Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shirky in Translation

I'm pretty sure Clay Shirky would never say this (from Miguel's notes on Sheryl's presentation):

According to Clay Shirky, there are 4 stages to mastering the connected world:

  • Sharing
  • Cooperating
  • Collaborating
  • Collective action.

In his book, he does describe a "ladder of activities that are enabled or improved by social tools" in which "The rungs on the ladder, in order of difficulty, are sharing, cooperation, and collective action." (Here Comes Everybody, p.49). But that's very different from thinking of these as a sequence of things to be mastered. Each one is potentially more powerful, but also more difficult and complex.

Beyond that, you can't "master" collective action; these things aren't skills. What's good about Shirky is that he problematizes this stuff; I guess it is inevitable that people giving boosterish keynotes referencing his work will subsequently run it though an un-problematizer.

Just something that caught my attention while waiting for Helen to get her mic working on Skype...


Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said...

Hi Tom,

A point of clarification here. Sometimes with "he said--she said"--things can get lost in the translation. Especially when you are just seeing slides and not hearing the comments.

When I share Shirky's - sharing, cooperation, collaborating, and collective action piece I typically suggest that Shirky never intended for anyone to use these steps as a planning tool for scaling lessons and helping students own their own learning and build their own networks.

I did use the word mastered on the slide, and I can see taken out of context how it can look like I was suggesting these somehow can be standardized, but I wasn't.

Instead I suggest that these constructs need to be used as a scaffolding and spiraling framework, if used at all. Online we can be sharing-connecting & collaborating at the same time and at different levels.

When I talk about Shirky's steps I change it a bit and replace cooperating with connecting.

Basically, my current thinking is you can take any of the current 21st Century skills lists-- for example Wagner's 7 Survival Skills or Linda Darling Hammond's Changing Expectations for Learning and you still get individuals publishing and sharing at best.

The ideas I am playing with now take the highest level of the new Bloom's "create" and move it out from there to community. Living in a participatory culture (Henry Jenkins) suggests to me we need to move from a classroom framework to a community framework and when we do that the focus moves from the individual creating and publishing to the community collaborating and taking action.

It isn't enough for me --or my students-- to be engaged and sharing with each other in the isolation of the classroom. Instead I need to understand how to publish my work and ideas to an authentic audience (teachers first and then model, once they own it, for students).

But it doesn't stop there because once I share my thinking online, others will begin to connect. And from those connections I will find others with passionate interests similar to mine. I will begin to build a network of learners. And we may decide to collaborate around a shared interest or passion as a means to learn and grow. And who knows-- from there we may find a project that will address the common good and bring even more caring individuals into a situated learning community which is starting to develop around our shared interest.

I guess what I am trying to do is find a way teachers and students can think about/explore their passions and take them beyond the walls of a classroom to the community. A place where kids can learn what they need, when they need to learn it- rather than learning according to some artificial curriculum plan. And from those connections begin to understand how to build and leverage the potential of their PLNs and CoPs in ways that will take them through life.

Admittedly these ideas are emergent, but I hope that makes my thinking that Miguel shared a bit clearer.

Tom Hoffman said...

What you are building here, Sheryl, is a shaky tower of bullshit. But, I suppose, that's what your audience wants.

There are much older and more solid arguments for what you have in mind.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said...

So mentor me. I did say it was emergent and my thinking now.