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Author Archives: Teresa Ober

Response to A. Hyde et al. and L. Hyde: Collaboration, Sharing, Ownership

That there were two articles written by different first authors of the same last name this week, both of whom described issues related to property, ownership, and sharing, seemed to add a new layer of complexity to the issues at hand. How can one prove ownership of property if one cannot prove to be themselves and no one else?

In any case, the two articles demonstrated different aspects of collaboration and openness with respect to the distribution and use of digital property. A. Hyde et al. (2012) provide an overview of what constitutes sharing and collaboration of intellectual property. Drawing a distinction between sharing and collaboration, the authors suggest that to share content involves treating it as a social object that can be directly linked to author, whereas in collaboration, the direct linkage between author and the content produced is less clearly observed. In the case of Wikipedia, all edits are preserved but the final written article as it appears could consist of multiple edits. Though Wikipedia articles are in some ways culturally constructed, there are safeguards against the falsification of information, as noted by the Colbert Report incident. How might having a distributed network of authors affect the product of a collaboration, and is the accuracy of the information source any more or less questionable than a piece written a solitary author?

A. Hyde et al. (2012) continue by outlining criteria of questions for a successful collaboration. Included are questions or intentions, goals, self-governance, coordination mechanisms, knowledge transfer, identity, scale, network topology, accessibility, and equality. The question or network topology stuck out as an important issue, yet one that I had not considered before as an aspect of collaboration. In the case of Wikipedia, contributions appear to be individually connected, unless there is a conflict with two editors working at the same time. In any given collaboration, is it possible to sketch out a model of the roles and tasks of the individuals or entities involved? Is it always feasible to do so?

Whereas the A. Hyde et al. (2012) discuss the process of collaboration, L. Hyde focus proprietary aspects of collaboration, specifically the “commons.” In contrast to views that place the idea of a commons outside the realm of physical property, L. Hyde speculates that the commons is in fact property, and by definition, “a right to action.” Later, he elaborates by stating that “a commons is a kind of property in which more than one person has rights,” (p. 27) suggesting that a commons may be inclusive of larger units of contributors. The word “commons” itself apparently has been derived from proprietary feudal systems, where such a thing would ultimately be under the ownership of nobility and in order to be used by others, they would have to contribute certain goods or resources in exchange. In this case, a commons was typically a piece of land jointly used by multiple individuals for agrarian purposes. These types of systems strictly controlled the use of the commons as well as any product reaped from it. According to the author, a modern commons is a “kind of property in which more than one person has a right of action.” (p. 43) As “commoners,” how should they view their contributions? Can one reasonably expect to have sole ownership of property once its been submitted to a commons?

 

Provocation

This week, we again consider the issue of ownership of intellectual property. A Hyde et al. (2012) prompts us to consider the complexities of collaboration, and to think about ways to structure successful collaborations, while L. Hyde describes the evolution of the modern commons as a property with collective ownership. As teachers and academics, in what ways can we effectively structure collaboration and sharing of knowledge in a commons? What recommendations would you have for students and peers to form constructive models of knowledge generation and sharing?

 

References

Lewis Hyde (2010). Common As Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, p. 23-38.

Adam Hyde, et. al. (2012). What Is Collaboration Anyway? In Mandiberg (Ed.), The Social Media Reader, 53-67.

Opportunities to respond (gone, but not forgotten)

Timeline (Manovich & Douglass, 2010)

Timeline (Manovich & Douglass, 2010)

It occurred to me that I had initially agreed to provide a provocation to Manovich’s last week, and I do apologize for not constructing a post in response to the readings and visualizations that were assigned.  While it doesn’t seem fair to detract from the current week’s readings, I would like to pose a very simple question. If one assumes that common knowledge is reproducible, yet creativity  and other forms of nontangible and cultural knowledge are unique sources of information, does the sum of all nontangible knowledge ever approach a mass store of common knowledge? In an era when we can quantify cultural knowledge through advanced data science, are we harming the generativity of knowledge? or are we simply pushing the boundaries of knowledge and creativity by reproducing and re-representing information in unique forms?

“Education and Experience” or balancing social and individual knowledge

In “Experience and Education,” John Dewey describes a balance between the personal nature of learning and importance of acquiring knowledge in an organized manner. According to Dewey, this problem requires “a well thought-out philosophy of the social factors that operate in he constitution of individual experience” (p. 7). In many ways, his philosophy is much more theoretically pragmatic than it is applied readily into practice. This can make Dewey seem unapproachable to some, while very profound to others.

Dewey describes the significance of organizing material and experience in a way that progressively builds upon itself. The structure of an authority that does not facilitate learning and experience in such a manner is thus in question. While reading, I considered the arrangement of more traditional classrooms that entailed a dyadic, teacher-student, and did not necessarily account for the dynamic nature of the construction of knowledge within the dynamic classroom between and direct and vicarious interactions of teachers-students, students-students, as well as these interactions between teachers and students with others outside of the classroom. This traditional classroom dynamic seems to have arisen out of the Common Schools Movement, for which Horace Mann is famous, that sought to equalize education for everyone. At the time Dewey was writing, an education that was considered equal was likely one in which a teacher, serving as an authority, had control over the learning experience the students within the classroom.

In some ways, Dewey’s ideas seem like a philosophical reversion to more organic forms of learning like that of an apprenticeship or mentorship. In a model of education that can be both progressive by maximizing the personal aspects of learning and experience while also providing a social structure of knowledge, Dewey describes three steps that are essential for creating knowledge through observation and judgment. The firs phase involves observation of certain conditions, the second phase involves a recollection of the past, and the third phase involves a judgment that puts together what has been observed and what is recalled and how these two experiences relate.

Provocation:

  1. What roles does a teacher have in terms of facilitating the phases of observation and judgment-formation described by Dewey in chapter 6, The Meaning of Purpose? How does the definition of purpose in this chapter relate to these phases of knowledge construction? Who should assume the primary role of shaping the purpose of learning?
  2. To what extent should the teacher be responsible for transmitting cultural knowledge? In chapter 7, Progressive Organization of Subject Matter, Dewey appears to grapple with this issue in the last paragraph on page 33. Though he suggests that adequate knowledge of how systems have arisen can be used to counter their problems, he appears to be impartial to the teaching of histories of social systems. He writes,

“On the one hand, there [will] be reactionaries that claim that the main, if not the sole, business of education is transmission of the cultural heritage. On the other hand, there will be those who hold that we should ignore the past and deal only with the present and future.”

What role does knowledge of history play in our systems of education? Which side do you support: transmit or ignore? Is it possible to reconcile the two?

Reference

Dewey, J. (1998). Experience and Education. Kappa Delta Pi.

How do people learn?

In “How People Learn,” Bransford et al. (1999) provide a compelling overview of the history and recent landmarks in the study of cognition and learning. In particular, the author notes the developments in the understanding of knowledge organization, infant cognition, knowledge transfer, and situated learning. Noting the relevance across multiple fields of social science, the authors commend the contributions from a wide range of disciplines including social psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience. Advanced research methodologies have also greatly impacted cognitive science research, and in terms of scientific credibility, seem a great improvement from the initial introspective self-report labs from which scientific psychological and cognitive inquiry first emerged.

In previous readings about the science of learning, I have often found it to be an area that is difficult to discretely define. Not only does the science of learning extend throughout the course of human lifespan development, but it also aims to describe a personal process in a generalizable manner, to be multidisciplinary, and to be readily applicable. Seemingly inconsistent in its conclusions, with both Behaviorism and schema theory representing viable aspects of learning, the theories of learning area constantly evolving from their mechanistic origins. Today we recognize that the learning of facts and concepts are both of great importance, as the active integration of the former into the later, supports the construction of a foundational knowledge base. Yet, defining the basics of “how” learning occurs in education, it is surprisingly complex.

The current dilemmas in cognitive science research are also in some ways the most intriguing. In particular, the challenge of equitably evaluating learning make it greatly important to define related concepts such as pre-existing knowledge, understanding, comprehension, analysis, and other critical thinking skills.

The first chapter of the book highlights the significance of building a linkage between home and school-based learning environments. Among the principles, the authors recommend creating environments that are learner-centered, knowledge-centered by providing a justification for what, why, and how content is taught, afford opportunities for formative assessments and feedback, and pay appropriate consideration to the context in which learning occurs. The chapter ends with recommendations for constructing effective learning environments.

The second chapter presents the paradigm of the expert-novice. In this chapter, we learn that a unique mental characteristic that separates experts from novices is their ability to meaningfully chunk and organize relevant domain-specific conceptual information. Adaptive experts can also learn to apply original solutions to problems within their domain of expertise, while novices may require more direct support and lengthier time to produce solutions to problems. The authors suggest that to make this transition from novice to expert, the novice learner must undergo hours of meaningful practice before knowledge becomes conditionalized and can be retrieved with fluency when necessary.

The seventh chapter deals with the importance of pedagogical content knowledge, which in addition to expert knowledge, can lead to more effective instructional practices. According to Bransford et al. (1999, p. 155), “Expert teachers know the structure of their disciplines, and this knowledge provides them with cognitive roadmaps that guide the assignments they give students, the assessments they use to gauge students’ progress, and the questions they ask in the give and take of classroom life.” That is to say, that the experienced teacher with good pedagogical content knowledge also possesses a model of how the prototypical student would learn the content. Included in this chapter, are examples of teaching across multiple disciplines, including history, mathematics, and science.

Provocation:

  1. In “How People Learn,” we are given the sense that all learning is context-dependent. Do you agree or disagree and why? Is it possible that learning can occur across contexts such that information that you learn in one context can be readily applied to another? How could the context-dependency of learning affect how we interact online vs. in offline environments? Is this knowledge transferrable?
  2. In chapter 2, the authors suggest that instruction that is “a mile wide and an inch deep” is generally not a constructive form of learning and results in a superficial level of knowledge. In your own experience as a student and/or a teacher, how do you view this breadth vs. depth trade-off? Is there ever a risk in covering one topic “too in-depth”? In an ideal world, how should instructional time be allocated for sufficient coverage?
  3. The authors suggest that expertise in a domain does not necessarily result in good teaching ability. In fact, the automatization of expert knowledge can make it difficult to verbalize the information and to effectively communicate it to novices. What do you think this means about the nature of teaching? How does one revert to an earlier stage of expertise in order to communicate knowledge to a novice learner? Is this merely a process of deconstructing implicit knowledge into an explicit, readily verbalized form?
  4. In chapter 7, the authors cover some effective teaching strategies in multiple content-areas. If you were to provide instruction to novice students in your area, what strategies would you consider using? Would the strategies be similar or substantially different than those used in the content-areas described?

References

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.) (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Response to Pedagogy

While removing the work of Paulo Friere from a cultural and historical context is an oversight that the author himself would likely condemn, I think many of the ideas expressed in the first two chapters of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” still resonant within the current setting, and so will not attempt to venture into the historical significance of his work. Friere (1970) writes describing the concept of co-intentional education “Teachers and students (leadership and people), co-intent on reality, are both Subjects, not only in the task of unveiling that reality, and thereby coming to know it critically, but in the task of re-creating that knowledge.” This method of education stands in contrast with the more transmission or “banking” model of education, where the student is treated as an empty receptacle where information is transmitted directly to the student who passively receives it. In such a model, emphasis rests on the recitation of learned facts rather than the personal development of individual thought structures to support a more meaningful process of learning.

Given that the title of these certificate courses includes the word “interactive,” it likely represents some central aspect of an ideology of pedagogy in which we have vested some interest. What is the significance of interactivity in teaching and learning? What elements of education can either hinder or facilitate such interaction and the co-construction of knowledge between “student” and “teacher”?

While the namesake may not be translated into a concise English equivalent, how would you attempt to define to concept of conscientização?

How can technology be used to resolve the “teacher student contradiction (Friere, p. 72-73)? Consider the ten attitudes and practices that are provided as examples.

Borrowing from the tradition of de Beauvoir, Friere advocates for changing the situations of those who are oppressed rather than the consciousness of that which oppresses them. Do you agree that this is an admirable goal? Why or why not? If we change the nature of a social consciousness, by equivocating the teacher and the student, is it possible that we have changed nature of knowledge acquisition itself?

 

Reference

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed (Rev. ed.). New York: Continuum,1970.

Wizards, Bureaucrats, Warriors, and Hackers or: How the Internet Came to Be

The history of Internet is sort of complex, to say the least. With various origins, conflicting historical aims, different accounts about its main contributors, and an eventual emergence that spans distinct, and sometimes opposing, social, cultural, and political contexts, one gets the sense that any discussion of the rise of the Internet as we know it today can only be considered broadly as a product of the proceeding decades. Even so, Rosenzweig (1998) manages to carefully document the variegated accounts of the creation of the Internet from multiple perspectives. One might expect nothing less, given that the Internet, as its name might suggest, grew from the integration of multiple computer networks, each of which had been developed to suit specific objectives its creators. In Rosenzweig’s meta-review, we first encounter ARPANET, which seems to be the primary forerunner of the modern-day Internet. He presents it as emerging during a time of conflict and contradictions. “The rise of the Net needs to be rooted in the 1960s,” writes Rosenzweig “in both the ‘closed world’ of the Cold War and the open and decentralized world of the antiwar movement and the counterculture.” (p. 1531).

These historical contradictions play out over multiple narratives. The accounts of writers such as Hafner and Lyons document of a simple computer problem, while authors Norberg and O’Neil reexamine the accomplishments and success of the enterprising individuals who supported the creation of the Internet by means of groundbreaking inventions. Hafner and Lyons document the origin of the Internet stemming from an initial contract between a computer consulting company and a government agency – the basis of which formed a marriage that resulted in 1966 to a solution to a relative simple problem. This particular problem involved connecting three computer terminals in order to share computer equipment. Further innovations in computing, such as “packet switching” and the use of distributed network, provided an efficient means of transmitting information, and led to greater interest and discoveries of more widespread applications of the technology for the purpose of communication and information sharing. According to Rosenzweig, this retelling of the origins of the Internet seemed peaceful and far removed from the later accounts of its rise. In contrast, Norberg and O’Neil unveil the crucial relationship between military objectives and operations and technological advancements in computer networks. While converging with Hafner and Lyons with respect the early origins of ARPANET, Norberg and O’Neil go further by describing how military operations sustained an interest and a need to develop a consolidated network system, the name from which our modern “Internet” eventually arouse. Whereas the authors of the first account document the universal and pragmatic interest that led to the creation of the first computer network system, the later authors document a parallel world, noting the secrecy and decontextualized nature of covert military objectives and operations that led the financial support of early research in computer networks.

Another account, by that of Edwards, contrasts in other ways from the two previous retellings. A student of Haraway, Edwards, as described by Rosenzweig, seems most conscious of the impact of rise of the Internet on society, and vice verse, and comments that computers led to a “technological construction of social worlds.” According to Edwards, computer systems were developed specifically to suit the political and military objectives of the Cold War, but in turn, also opened up discussion and discourse surrounding the era.

In further contrast to these views, Rosenzweig documents Hauben and Hauben’s populist account of the rise of computer systems. According to Hauben and Hauben, Usenet emerged as an alternative to ARPANET and had a distinct a purpose of disseminating communication amongst anyone competent enough to learn how to navigate the network. Within just a few years since its creation, the use of Usenet seemed to grow almost exponentially. Even before Usenet became widely accessible to many, efforts such as the Community Memory project attempted to decentralize the use of computers systems. These efforts represented the early countercultural movement to shift control of the Internet such that it, and the information that it bore, could become part of a democratic enterprise.

As innovations in computer systems developed at an increasingly fast rate, institutions of research and higher education also changed. Rosenzweig notes the rapid increases in the number of universities with computer science departments, many of which did not initially have access to ARPANET. To meet this increased demand, other networks such as CSNET were formed, to provide connections specifically for the sharing of scholarly resources. In later decades, particularly in the 1980s, Rosenzweig comments on the move towards privatization of the Internet, noting that “the liberationism of the many early computer and network enthusiasts had been transformed into libertarianism. ‘Technolibertarianism’ became one of the central ideologies of the Internet.” (p. 1550). He concludes noting that much of it was privately owned at the time the paper was authored, yet many web users share this “cyber space” with major corporations, and like much these corporations, prominently display aspects of themselves on web pages. A nonphysical space where corporate advertising and personal communication intersect, our relationship to the Internet seems to be as multifaceted and complex as the historical events that shaped it.

 

Provocation

  1. Consider how computer networks were viewed during each successive decade, from the 1960s until the 1990s, the millennial decade, and today. What are the major social, cultural and political contexts that define each era and how have these contributed to and been shaped by the rise of the Internet?
  2. Consider history as told from multiple perspectives. Which accounts of the various authors listed made the greatest impression on you? What aspects of the various historical accounts espoused the most intrigue, skepticism, frustration, etc. for you and why? What conclusions may be drawn from a synthesis across these different perspectives?
  3. Consider the context in which Rosenzweig writes. In this article, which was published in 1998, he writes “While free marketeers today celebrate the Internet as the home of ‘people’s capitalism,’ it also seems headed down the road to oligopoly.” (p. 1551). Is this perspective consistent with modern times? How has the notion of “people’s capital” on the Internet changed? Are we currently living within or headed towards an age when control of the Internet is in the hands of the few?
  4. Consider email. Rosenzweig, quoting Ian Hardy, takes note of “… the medium’s ‘disdain for false formality, its distrust of traditional hierarchy, its time-selfishness, speed, and certainly its ironic juxtaposition of impersonality and emotional directness’ represented a ‘new culture of interaction’ that might not have been so readily possible without […] the ‘informalization’ of culture that the 1960s brought.’” (p. 1552). Given that email, and other forms of instant communication, have likely been an integral yet universally accepted feature of our generation, what is your reaction to this quote? What new forms of communication have emerged over the past decade? How might these new forms of communication technologies both defined and been defined by the era?
  5. Consider the capitalization of the word. It now seems widely acceptable to refer to the “internet” as something that is not a proper noun and therefore does not need to be spelled “Internet.” Discuss the potential implications behind this apparent shift in the conventions of written language.

Citation

Rosenzweig, R. (1998). Wizards, bureaucrats, warriors, and hackers: Writing the history of the Internet. American Historical Review, 1530-1552.