Connected Learning Webinar Series Wrap Up

For the month of July HASTAC partnered up with the Connected Learning Alliance to produce a webinar series focused on building trust in connected learning environments. An archive page with all the webinars can be viewed at http://dmlcompetition.net/resources/

About this Series

We met in July to explore the concept that “students should have safe and trusted environments for learning,” which is one of five principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning experiences shared in the Aspen Task Force ‘Learner In The Center Of A Networked World” report. We know that trust, privacy, and safety are critical to learning in an open online world, so we framed the series around the following questons: What tools do learners need to navigate, collaborate, and learn online with confidence? What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments? How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust? What role do badges play in conversations about trust in connected learning environments?

Our goal was to inspire people to think about both challenges and solutions to building trust in connected learning environments, which is the theme of our upcoming HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, the Trust Challenge, which opens on September 3.

The topics of the webinars covered:

  • Why Trust Matters in Connect Learning Environments
  • Trust Challenges Across Connected Learning Environments
  • Social-Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship Best Practices
  • Higher Education as a Trusted Environment for Learning

 

With all of these conversations around trust taking place, especially the complex social considerations of trust, it is the infrastructures that underly the social learning environments that we hope people are inspired to think through. The underlying theme and goal of this series is to think of solutions to challenges to trust in connected learning environments, or “ways to think through the creation of digital systems and tools that enable trust in connected learning.” For example, how do we:

 

  • design systems and digital environments that engender trust for networks of youth, parents of youth (where appropriate), and learning institutions?
  • arm learners with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to become savvy web citizens and to know when a system is safe and designed to protect their information?
  • share data across platforms and organizations in productive ways that allow learners to pursue their interests and easily share and control their data across different learning networks?
  • promote a culture of civility and respect online, enabling deeper and more supportive trusted engagement among learners, and encouraging the development of learners as responsible creators and stewards of an open, inviting, and egalitarian web?

 

In the webinars, we spent time reflecting on the complex relationship between trust, teacher/instructor, and learners. This conversation is part the backdrop for us to start thinking through the complex task of building digital tools that are designed to put learners at the center. A big part of this, and something that came through with all of the webinar sessions, is rethinking the hierarchy of learning spaces to allow for more dialogic and transparent interactions and learning paths. To paraphrase what Audrey Watters said during the 4th webinar on Higher Education as a Trusted Learning Environment, how do we account for students being interpolated into technology, and how do we make sure that the technological tools and solutions we are creating empower everyone involved in learning?

Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments Webinar Series completed

Jade E. Davis, Program Coordinator at HASTAC, participated in the Social-Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship webinar produced in collaboration with ConnectedLearning.tv, and shares her thoughts about the conversation in this blog post.

The final webinar in the Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments series was on “Higher Education as a Trusted Environment for Learning”. In addition to myself, the participants included:

  • Jonathan Worth – Creator of the massive, open Photography & Narrative (#Phonar) course, and a renowned British portrait photographer
  • Audrey Watters – Technology and education journalist, and self-described “rabble-rouser & recovering academic”
  • Howard Rheingold – Author, virtual community expert, and self-described “online instigator & expert learner”
  • Anne Balsamo – Dean of the School of Media Studies and Professor of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement; co-founder of FemTechNet
  • Martha Burtis – Special Projects Coordinator for Teaching and Learning Technologies at the University of Mary Washington

The Conversation

This was a very dynamic conversation with many takeaways for people who plan to enter the Challenge. Here is a partial list of questions that came up during the conversation to consider when we imagine new trust based tools for connected learning.

How do we:

1. build trust in the processes of learning, from the tools to the shared spaces?

2. use tools to empower instead of reinforcing existing power relationships for both the learner and the instructor?

3. allow for many voices to be heard while removing noise?

4. make it easier for learners to understand what they can and can’t control?

5. build in the ability to delete or hide in open tools?

6. ensure that we’ve minimized the barriers to entry

7. take advantage of the wealth of information and connections made possible by digital media?

8. find ways to encourage creativity and co-exploration?

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the wonderful questions, concerns, and challenges that were brought up during the webinar.  As we think through the purpose of tools for learning, it is important to not forget that on either side of the tool we are hoping to make connected learning better, safer, and transparent for all those involved, from the designers and developers to the user. Trust is essential to all of this.

Now that the webinar series is completed we hope you will watch, comment, and join the conversation over the next month as we prepare to launch the application on September 3rd. You can follow us on twitter @dmlcomp and join the ongoing conversation with the hashtag #dmltrust.

 

Webinar: Tuesday, July 29 @ 2pm ET | Higher Education as a Trusted Environment for Learning

Trust in research, public scholarship, pedagogy, and distributed learning environments. How are higher education institutions already embracing principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning? View the webinar and join the conversation or follow along on Twitter using #dmltrust.

For the month of July, HASTAC teamed up with the Connected Learning Alliance (CLA) to produce a four-webinar series, stemming from the June 17 Aspen Task Force report, Learner at the Center of a Networked World. This series is part of the ongoing conversation around the Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments. The Trust Challenge funds successful collaborations or “laboratories” where challenges to trust in connected learning environments can be identified and addressed. Successful labs will create scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations of trust.

Join the Higher Education as a Trusted Environment for Learning webinar at 2pm ET, Tuesday July 29, 2014.

Speakers:

  • Jonathan Worth – Creator of the massive, open Photography & Narrative (#Phonar) course, and a renowned British portrait photographer
  • Audrey Watters – Technology and education journalist, and self-described “rabble-rouser & recovering academic”
  • Howard Rheingold – Author, virtual community expert, and self-described “online instigator & expert learner”
  • Sheryl Grant – Director of Social Networking, HASTAC

Recap: Thoughts on Social-Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship

Jade Davis, Program Coordinator at HASTAC, participated in the Social-Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship webinar produced in collaboration with ConnectedLearning.tv, and shares her thoughts about the conversation in this blog post. 

I teach university-level media and culture courses in connected learning environments, and was fortunate to be on the Social Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship webinar with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds:

  • Anne Collier - Youth/tech news blogger, and Editor ofNetFamilyNews.org
  • Janelle Bence - Educator at New Tech High @ Coppell in Dallas
  • Jessie Daniels - Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), and FemTechNet supporter
  • Anna Smith (moderator)- Educational researcher, teacher educator & teacher; founder of #literacies chat on Twitter

Initial Thoughts

This is an easy-to-talk-about but hard-to-move-towards contextual frameworks topic. We are in the process of defining digital citizenship. Our models of citizenship tend to require a certain amount of trust in the systems of control, grouping, or whatever other mechanism is defining the citizenship. But we often talk about the experience and rights of citizenship instead of how the system is encoding citizenship. I think this is the same for digital citizenship. We get caught on individual experience and have trouble breaking it down to the bits that are actually enabling the types of behavior that make us ask if something is “good” or “bad”, “safe,” or “dangerous.”

Another thought: an hour really isn’t enough time to talk about this. I hope the conversation continues in the various online spaces we find ourselves in.

The Talk

We started with trying to put some bounds on digital citizenship. The basic thing that seemed to come out is that digital citizenship is no longer about behavior and a social contract. In connected learning space particularly, it is not about punishment, control, and safety in the same way. Instead, when we talk about digital citizenship, it is about engagement, relationship management, and impact.  We all seemed to agree that at this moment, an understanding of social justice and social activism is required to make sure we make digital citizenship something positive. The addition to digital spaces where the impact of being in a shared physical space is absent, it requires a different type of social and emotional literacy.

This brought us to the 5 Social and Emotional Learning Core Competencies.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision making

I’m wondering how these core competencies can be built into tools, and, as always, if there needs to be an adjustment for digital learning spaces or if this stays the same.  I’m also curious about the stream of thought that sees the digital as a space without a social contract. I’m wondering if a social contract could be created for digital learning space or if…

The social contract needs to be created in the learning spaces assuming they are going to be using a closed or control system. This seems to be the thing that was lingering in most of the conversation in my opinion. How digital tools and spaces are used is highly contextual. That means that each iteration of learning on the system requires it’s own ingroup social contract, guidelines, manifesto, or constitution. It also needs to be fluid enough to adjust to the things that happen in the middle of the module or learning experience. This led to mini-version of my infamous rants on the value of lurking that was summed up perfectly in a tweet posted to the Google+ hangout page “ lurking is “legitimate peripheral participation (H/T to Lave & Wenger)”.

There was pushback, because engagement is key in many ways, but I still think when we think of engagement in these spaces, we need to acknowledge that it isn’t safe for everyone engage. Some people have more risk than others, which requires more time to create the trust relationship with both the tool and the group that will be sharing in the learning experience.

And trust is still central. When we get to the point of talking about the social and emotionally literacies we have to take the following into consideration:

The changes that come with:

  • closed versus open systems.
  • murkiness of participants and participant roles.
  • awareness of privacy, safety, and best practices of a given tool.
  • digital based practices.

All of these things shift how we think about trust in digital connected learning environments.

There are a few half-saids and many unsaids from the webinar I’d like to bring up. I mentioned my past weekends issue with the language “master/slave” language in programming, and how that might alienate some learners. I’ve also received some feedback that these webinars have had an American slant. The Communication Studies scholar in me has to say “of course it does!!”. When we look at the internet, where it came from, and the languages that are used to turn things into pretty pages, they are, for the most part, American based tools, started by a very specific group of people, something people are talking about a bit more now that Twitter released it’s diversity numbers. Tools, much like systems of citizenship, have built in biases, assumptions, and abilities based on the people who build them. Additionally, as informed users of these tools, we should be questioning why this is the case, and what that means for how trust is encoded into our current tools versus tools that will be made in the future and for the Trust challenge.

That brings me to my partial list of the things that were unsaid during the conversation that are still barriers to this new citizenship that requires a trust in both the community and the tools:

  • Language
  • Nationality
  • Geographic Location
  • Socio-Economic Status
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Age
  • Access
  • Resources
  • Ability

And I know my own biases mean I am probably missing many. But that is why the conversation has to keep going. I don’t think there will be a tool built that can solve all of these, but scalability means that we should be working towards being able to be modified, forked, or adjusted to allow as many people as possible accessible and safe learning through digital tools.

Resources and Readings:

Community of Practice:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_practice
Knowledge Streams: http://inq13.gc.cuny.edu/knowledge-streams/
Social and Emotional Learning, 5 Core Competencies:http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/core-competencies
Cheshire, Coye (2011). “Online Trust, Trustworthiness, or Assurance?” Daedalus. Vol. 140, Issue 4: 49-58.http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/DAED_a_001

The Trust Challenge will be awarding $1.2 million to institutions and organizations that come up with tools that address the challenges to trust in connected learning environments that are scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations of trust.

Webinar: Tuesday, July 22 @ 2pm ET | Social-Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship Best Practices

Join us Tuesday, July 22 @ 2pm ET to talk about Social-Emotional Literacies and building trust in connected learning environments. How can we encourage multi-directional trust (from platforms to people) and empower learners of all ages to use learning resources confidently, effectively & safely? 

trustCL_webinar3_image

How to Participate:

About the speakers:

  • Anne Collier – Youth/tech news blogger, and Editor of NetFamilyNews.org
  • Janelle Bence – Educator at New Tech High @ Coppell in Dallas
  • Jessie Daniels – Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), and FemTechNet supporter
  • Anna Smith – Educational researcher, teacher educator & teacher; founder of #literacies chat on Twitter
  • Jade E. Davis – Program Coordinator, HASTAC and Digital Media and Learning Competition

Background reading: 

Today’s webinar is part of the Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning series, a collaboration between HASTAC and ConnectedLearning.tv. The Trust Challenge is the fifth open, international Digital Media and Learning Competition.