This week in ONL171, we talked about how each one of us is acting in the digital, social world. We learned about residents versus visitors and we could illustrate our own profiles in a chart.
The diagram raises many thoughts. Everything from how fast the development towards a digital reality today is, to how we should conduct ourselves to the market forces which govern us into a life filled with clicks and likes.
In a column in Hufvudstadsbladet on 22 February 2017, Fritjof Sahlström, professor of pedagogy at Åbo Akademi University, wrote about how children might live in parallel worlds in classrooms around the world today. Sahlström writes about Antti Paakkari who in his doctoral thesis sorts out how the children as consumers of social media are helping a huge machinery to keep running. He talks about the no-pay child labor of today and calls it “The capitalism in the classroom”. Sahlström compares children’s effort with the work children did in factories and in the forests more than 100 years ago, before the classrooms (elementary school) rescued them from child labor. In the same classrooms around the Western world is now a parallel activity to teaching and school work, an activity that can be classified as child labor, because the use of phones form a significant part that keep the industry concerning social media alive. If you want to read more you can check out Antti Paakkaris research (https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/en/persons/antti-paakkari(6f8b92b9-4475-4800-8412-ef37a55ceab7).html) .
Staggering thoughts, but I will leave them for now and make reflections on how my personal social life online looks compared to the diagrams relating my two daughters.
For a moment I was reflecting on which social media I really use and then according to White´s format (2011) I put them down in the figure below. I had a suspicion that my children’s schedules probably would look very different, so I asked two of them to draw their digital profiles in the same figure.
When I talk to my daughters, 16 and 24 years, I realize for example that the younger one never uses FB, while the older one uses FB, but strictly professional in connection with studies and her job. E-mail is also completely professional for both. WhatsApp is used by both of them, but much more in a professional way than I do. The older one blogs privately but also occasionally updates the blog in her work. Both are using Instagram privately and Snapchat we all use in a private way. My daughters use the study platforms (Wilma and Web Oodi) as visitors, although they sometimes are expected to write things there.
All of this is perhaps no surprise to anyone, but it allowed me to reflect on the gap between my students (who often are at an age somewhere between my daughters) and me. Although we apparently use the same apps, our intentions differ. Suddenly the question rises about where we really have our meeting places? The University’s email and the Itslearning-platform are the same for both my students and me, but for us teachers in many cases familiar and useful. For the students, they will always be represented by an asymmetry of power (power imbalances with the teacher as supervisor and the student as a underdog). Such formations rarely attracts innovation and creativity. Students use the University’s platform in the first place because they have been told to do so and then get through the course, they do not use it to be motivated and encouraged in their learning processes. In fact, in the area of “resident mode/institutional context” we have nothing else than the e-mail in common.
For our students FB and WhatsApp are often tools in the professional area, while many of us teachers use the same channels but privately. Not so many chances to meet here, is there? Sometimes we instead are preventing these meetings by moral discussions in the teams of teachers, where we still think that it might be morally reprehensible to be friends on FB with students. What a paradox!
What is then the natural common arena where it would be possible for teachers and students to meet professionally in creative contexts? Are we waiting for WhatsApp to develop, or is it something very new that we do not yet know? The closed and therefore exclusive, strictly hierarchical platforms of the universities might not be so useful after all. Especially, if the development goes against transparency regarding research and innovation in the academic world.
White, David & Le Cornu, Alison. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/304
Sahlström, Fritjof. (2017) Barnarbetets återkomst. Hufvudstadsbladet 22.2.2017.