Discussions started by Cindy Underhill

Thanks to all of you who participated in this discussion with us. I've enjoyed learning about your projects and your perspectives on the issues we've touched on. I've learned alot and much to take back to our student team for them to look at in the development of the new module we are working on for the Digital Tattoo site.

Here is a link to our Slideshare space:

Feel free to use any of the materials we've developed.

All the best for the holidays!


Hi everyone,

Welcome to week 3 of our discussion. For this week, it might be interesting to explore some of the issues facing higher ed related to social media and related identity, privacy, safety concerns.

Here are a few of the themes that seem to be part of many discussions in our Canadian institution (UBC), what about yours?

  • open (the internet and social media) vs. closed (the LMS). Should we be restricting access to our learning spaces? Registered learners only.
  • responsibility vs. user beware. How do we incorporate teaching using social media tools and approaches when most are delivered via servers based in the US? see FIPPA and the US Patriot Act. What is our responsibility to students?
  • roles vs. integration. How should students learn about digital identity issues? Should this be integrated with our courses? Is it the responsibility of librarians, student development experts?
  • social spaces vs. learning spaces. What is the value in blending these? Do students even want this?

Very interesting discussion series between George Siemens and Dave Cormier, sharing links, discussing resources and sharing their ideas while addressing questions related to social media and associated issues: Archives: http://www.editlib.org/view/33137

I didn’t grow up with the internet so all of my poor choices were made in relative anonymity – not so with my daughter and son who are learning about their own digital identities – sometimes the hard way - and they live online – where I am only a part time resident.

This idea that our online participation falls somewhere on a visitor-resident continuum is an interesting one in that it is more about behavior and motivation than age and technical saavy (in contrast to Prensky's earlier description of digital natives vs. immigrants). David White (Oxford) describes the principle in this 20 minute video. If you have the time - it is an interesting look at some familiar ideas.

The central premise is that visitors (who may be young, old or somewhere in between) tend to be very instrumental in their approach to using social networking or "web 2.0" tools and approaches. they are concerned with solving a particular problem and tend to move in and out of these applications leaving very little trace of a digital identity. Residents on the other hand, already have an identity, are comfortable in their social spaces and may have a well established identity online. Privacy is something that visitors are perhaps more concerned with than residents - however - notions of privacy and its importance may be shifting (and that may be a generational thing).

Recently, we asked a group of (68) grade 9 students about their "sharing" behavior online. Exactly half reported to "share everything about themselves online" and half reported to "be very careful about what they share". Interesting, most knew about privacy settings in online applications and were (in fact) exercising their control in terms of how they share what with and how they do it.

Do you have any observations about the students you work with? Are they primarily visitors or residents in their online spaces?

In his excellent article Footprints in the Digital Age, Will Richardson makes this point about social networking and content creation on the web: "This may be the first large technological shift in history that's being driven by children." That's an interesting thought - and a bit scary for us as well as (I suspect) for them. This supports some recent survey data that we collected from 68 grade 9 students in that virtually none of them reported to have been taught how to use the web from teachers or parents. Most reported they were self taught, some reported they were taught by siblings or friends.

What does that mean to us as mentors, parents, educators? Richardson suggests we must walk the talk and "own these technologies and be able to take advantage of these networked learning spaces" ourselves.

It sounds like many of us (participating in this forum) are integrating these approaches into our practices - what's the next step?

This statement is deceptively simple, yet it may be at the heart of the sore spot with the concept of open sharing (think patents, copyright, intellectual property, etc.). Yet, at the same time there is a long tradition of collaboration in research (consider the world wide collaboration in the field of human genetics). As Norm Friesen points out in his Chapter on Critical Theory:
"behind the natural or obvious truths are clashing social and human interests."

So, here a few questions to ponder prior to the discussion over the next few days:
  • why do you think some people might be uncomfortable with this statement?
  • what value(s) are implied?
  • what might be some implications re:digital identity?
And, as you have already demonstrated, you'll likely have many more interesting questions of your own - feel free to start a new thread if this topic isn't meaningful for you.