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? 

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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.

Recap: Thoughts on Trust Challenges Across Connected Learning Environments


Jade Davis, Program Coordinator at HASTAC, participated in the Trust Challenges Across Connected Learning Environments 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 join colleagues from a variety of backgrounds to discuss Trust Challenges Across Connected Learning Environments: How trust is modeled in collaborative connected learning environments, and how we tackle serious issues–such as digital literacy and equity–so that people can take full advantage of learning opportunities.

  • Anne Collier - Director of ConnectSafely.org, and Founder/Writer at NetFamilyNews.org
  • Cathy Lewis-Long - Founding Executive Director of The Sprout Fund in Pittsburgh
  • Carla Casilli - Director of Design + Practice at the Badge Alliance
  • Barry Joseph - Associate Director for Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History
  • Doug Belshaw - Project lead for the Web Literacy Standard at the Mozilla Foundation

Initial Thoughts

Going into the webinar I knew that this topic would be difficult, but I was unable to place the difficulty until we were actually in conversation. When we start talking about conceptual words that have a great socio-cultural significance, like “trust”, we tend to lean towards our current cultural understanding of what that means and looks like now, and has looked, for a majority of our existence. We use this vision to paint the future, which totally makes sense, but sometimes we need to do something different. Seeing “trust” in connected learning environments is a hard conversation because we know what “trust” means for us in our day-to-day lives, and in small communal spaces, like classrooms (at all levels) or after school programs or library activities, summer programs etc, when it comes to connected learning. Moving the term to a virtual space, even if we all engage in these types of spaces (think social media, VLE, blogs, etc), is hard. Additionally, for many people trust doesn’t come to mind when they think of these spaces, which is one of the Trust Challenge is hoping to address. I think the Trust Challenge is happening at a really great time, and I am 100% sincere where I say I can’t wait to see the types of tools people are able to create. Last semester my class was almost exclusively seniors. They will probably be the last class I have that is full of students who were born 1-2 years before amazon started delivering books to my door. And the online activities we do now are so much more than those early books that seemed like a miracle. We live out our lives in these spaces as much as we do out in the world. To seperate trust into only the face to face encounters creates an uncessary binary between the analog and digital social learning experience that makes it harder to speak about trust in connected learning.

Discussion

Partway through conversation “tacit acceptance” was brought up. I think this is universal to both the old types of trust we have, and the new types of trust relationships digital environments create. While connected learning and the use of digital tools is not new in learning environments, the way we talk about them, especially trust in these environments seems to be stuck at an “analog versus binary” perspective. We need to speak more about how these two interactive worlds break in and out of each other. Though I have misgivings about the term, rather than a binary, it might be helpful to think of them as a dialectic, and start talking about what happens at synthesis. When we talk about things like “Learner at the Center of a Networked World“, we tend to want to focus on either the learner and the learner’s experience or the networked world aspect. We have to do more bridge work to understand systems, platforms, and tools, and the affordances, risks, and experiences these systems, platforms, and tools offer to the learner, even as these things are often obfuscated. In fact, that is part of twhat the Trust Challenge is trying to remedy.

Trust, privacy, and safety are critical to learning in an open online world. How can learners exercise control over who sees and uses their data? What tools do they 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?

Defining Components

Spoiler alert, we didn’t manage to define “trust.” Instead, we did come up with some things we think are necessary current trust challenges in connected learning environments. Here’s a bulleted list:

  • Transparency
  • Credibility
  • Collaboration
  • Authenticity
  • Scaffolding
  • Malleability

In paragraph form, we need to be able to understand not just who is involved, but how the learner in the center is effected, especially in terms of things like privacy and safety. We need to build systems to allow for things to be seen as credible or worth something. This is linked to transparency in as much as it is a call to make sure that as we engage learners in these connected learning environments by allowing learners to tie experiences to their overall educational goals. Learners should also understand how these experiences fit in their larger socio-cultural life. To do that though, we need to allow collaboration with the learner and other people doing similar work. We need to be able to allow the freedom for learners to take what we’ve given them and run with it, even if at times that means they do something completely different and unexpected. More often than not, based on the experiences we discussed during the conversation, the place where students end up is much more meaningful than where we hope them to get, and generally, if we’ve chosen the right tool and planned well, where the learner ends up will be in parallel with where we wanted them to get to. So, another trust challenge, trusting learners to be collaborators. We need to be authentic with this though. It can’t be forced. We need to be ourselves and, again, let the learners know that they are valued and part of the process, and that we mean this and find it meaningful. We need to think of tools as scaffolding for a learning experiences instead of something that binds the experiences. Finally, these tools needs to be malleable. We need to be able to meet learners where they are and not where we want them to be, and work with learners to get them to where they need to be.

I think this list and the reasons that were given during the conversation do a good job of starting to think through trust in connected learning environments as well as some of the affordances of tools that might be created for the Trust Challenge. While our conversation was about learning and learners, we can easily apply all of these things to the digital tools we use today. We need to not just think about learner to learner, but at a basic level, how tools allow for interoperability, privacy, civility, and ownership to affect the learner in both obvious and not so obvious ways. We need to find ways to make these more transparent, collaborative, authentic, and malleable, too. Rather than thinking of learners as end users of ready to go, finalized tools, maybe if we start thinking tools as scaffolding to experiences we might start to take our old cultural understandings of trust and figure out if and how they map on to the new digital trust challenges.

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 8 @ 11am | Why Trust Matters in Connected Learning Environments

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Interested in thinking how technology, policies, and practices could build more trusted learning environments? Join us to discuss Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments on Tuesday, July 8 at 11am PT (2pm ET), the first of a four-event webinar series about trust, privacy, safety, and learning in an open online world.

What technologies, tools, and policies 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?

Guest speakers will dive deep into these questions and the principle that “students should have safe and trusted environments for learning,” one of five principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning experiences described in the Aspen Task Force on Learning & the Internet report: ‘Learner In The Center Of A Networked World.’

More webinar topics this month: 

Our webinar series is part of the fifth HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition’s Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments, a call to action based on findings and recommendations issued by the Aspen Institute Task Force report.

The fifth open international Trust Challenge will award $1.2 million to institutions and organizations that tackle challenges to trust in real-life learning contexts. The Trust Challenge includes a call for proposals that will fund successful collaborations or “laboratories” that create scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations of trust.

More information about how to apply can be found athttp://dmlcompetition.net/building-trust/

Connect with the Trust Challenge:

Web: www.dmlcompetition.net
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/dmlComp and #dmltrust
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DMLcomp
Listserv: To receive notifications about the Trust Challenge, including reminders when the application opens, send a message to  dmlcompnews-request@duke.edu with “subscribe” in the subject line.