Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Net Smart for both personal empowerment AND shaping digital culture

With over 50 participants, #change11 MOOC started 2012 well with an excellent session with Howard Rheingold.
His work on Net Smart is well described and his new book "Net Smart - How to Thrive Online" pulls all this work together. We were treated to an overview and some insights which convinced me that seeking only digital literacy is insufficient - we should be having our students (and teachers) be Net Smart. This would enable not just personal empowerment, an important Rheingold point, but it would enable the quality of digital cultural commons to improve. Asking questions about whether Google and Facebook are having negative effects is pointless - he maintains - rather steer the cultural commons forward in positive ways by being a shaper of the future and an inhibitor and neutraliser of poor or dangerous practices.
He uses the terms "literacies" instead of skills since he includes the social context as important.
The Net Smart Literacies are:
  • Attention - know where your attention is going, keep focused, by mindful (be metacognitive) of what you are attending to (talked about "attention probes" - devices to keep your attention on task - see my next post).
  • Critical Consumption (Crap Detection being his term - he describes crap as information tainted by ignorance, inept communication or deliberate deception) - with strategies such as "think like a detective", search to learn, look for authors and search them, triangulate.
  • Participation - empowerment which comes from know-how, curation for contribution ("a person who contributes thinks of themselves differently from those who only consume"), attract like-minded participants, build up your network, create a participation culture.
  • Collaboration - smart mobs, collective action, crowd-sourcing, cooperative and collaborative learning (see his 2005 TED talk on the New Power of Collaboration).
  • Network Know-how -know how to do.
Great pointers from Rheingold:
  • Don't just consume - create
  • Architectures of participation use self interest to construct public goods
  • Curation is lightweight collective intelligence
  • Learn norms & boundaries of local cultures before participating
  • Crap-detect thyself before broadcasting questionable info
  • Organisms cooperate as much as they compete
  • Actions climb the curve of engagement
  • Wide variety of ways to participate
  • Enable self-election 
  • People contribute to enhance reputation, learn, meet others add to public good
  • Casual conversation builds trust
Ross Mayfield's diagram on the Power Law of Participation was used to illustrate the benefits of participation:

A goal should be to build your own (and your learners' own) personal trust network.

"If digital cultures are making us shallow, explore the deep end" quote from Rheingold using a photo of a swimmer peeking over the edge of the pool at the shallow end.

1 comment:

mrsjgarcia said...

These are very important skills for everyone these days. They have to be taught properly in schools from an age in which students begin searching for information online. Most kids and some adults don't realise how important this is.

Here is a link to Howard's "Crap Detection 101: How to tell accurate information from inaccurate information, misinformation, and disinformation."