Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Adhocracies, Online Video Services and more

In a chapter on the upcoming book "Coming of Age: An Introduction to The New World Wide Web, 2nd edition" Leon Cych writes about what I'd like to call the YouTube effect.

Cych notes that:
"The phenomenon of millions of users uploading video content has been anticipated and some commentators have called this and similar web based user activity Adhocracies where people flock together when the conditions are right to construct informal knowledge communities in what are called by James Gee "affinity spaces". These often coalesce outside the mainstream education community and are often fan or specialist interest based and may remain relatively unaffected by it – as is certainly the case at present."
He thus proposes that we try co-opting "this cultural activity for use in schools".

But "schools and institutions appear resistant". Cych resonates with the arguments of Henry Jenkins:
"Many schools remain openly hostile to these kinds of experiences, continuing to promote autonomous problem solvers and self-contained learners. Here, unauthorized collaboration is cheating...Media are read primarily as threats rather than as resources. More focus is placed on the dangers of manipulation rather than the possibilities of participation, on restricting access – turning off the television, saying no to Nintendo – rather than in expanding skills at deploying media for one's own ends, rewriting the core stories our culture has given us. One of the ways we can shape the future of media culture is by resisting such disempowering approaches to media literacy education. We need to rethink the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as cultural producers and participants and not simply as consumers, critical or otherwise."
I could not agree more. For schools taking baby-steps, they could perhaps start introducing modalities other than video. Sometimes, all it takes is encouraging learners to share hyperlinks. Take a quick look at a sample " new classroom" experience here.

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