Thursday, May 27, 2010

Participation vs. Web 2.0

I keep learning new ideas from Henry Jenkins. In a recent note about DIY (Do it yourself) Media, Jenkins makes two important points that are critical to how we think about models of learning on the web.

First, he critiques the use of the term "DIY" noting that the emphasis is not on "oneself," but on a group of people, he writes,
"what may be radical about the DIY ethos is that learning relies on these mutual support networks, creativity is understood as a trait of communities, and expression occurs through collaboration. Given these circumstances, phrases like "Do It Ourselves" or "Do It Together" better capture collective enterprises within networked publics."
I think his emphasis is right. I have the same difficulty with "personalized learning environments" that seem to emphasize the idea that each of us is some type of autonomous learner rather than emphasizing platforms and processes that engage people in the pursuit of a common understanding and learning.

Later in this article he comments on ideas from Gee (2007) saying,
"Unlike schools, where everyone is expected to do (and be good at) the same things, these participatory cultures allow each person to set their own goals, learn at their own pace, come and go as they please, and yet they are also motivated by the responses of others, often spending more time engaged with the activities because of a sense of responsibility to their guild or fandom. They enable a balance between self-expression and collaborative learning which may be the sweet spot for DIY learning."
Again this emphasizes the idea of learning communities rather than individual learning.

The last point in this article is his idea about differences between the Web 2.0 model and "participatory" culture. He writes,
"Despite a rhetoric of collaboration and community, they often still conceive of their users as autonomous individuals whose primary relationship is to the company that provides them services and not to each other. There is a real danger in mapping the Web 2.0 business model onto educational practices, thus seeing students as "consumers" rather than "participants" within the educational process."
I have often used terms like "Education 2.0," etc. but Jenkins makes an important distinction that may be missed as we talk about these ideas. He notes a big difference in these models is the extent to which mentoring and scaffolding is emphasized versus service to the business enterprise. Jenkins is reminding us of an important distinction that is critical to the structure of learning communities.

No comments: