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attending to the shadow of living and learning on the web

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@mdvfunes

Mariana Funes is published author, chartered psychologist and meditation teacher. In 2015 she completed a 3 year retreat as an 8-precept contemplative in the world. Her current research interest is digital contemplation. She is contributing to the creation of a digital monastery at the stillweb.org where her focus is online insight dialogue. Her writing on this blog now seeks to 'increase the visibility of psychology and raise public awareness of its contribution to society' as stated in the aims of her professional body The British Psychological Society.

Do situational factors trump ethics in open education?

diglit

Open education tends to put much emphasis on digital literacy (or literacies) development as a way to benefit from internet use. Some authors boldly state that: “Digital literacy skills are essential for today’s citizens. These skills are expected for everyday personal use, learning and effective performance at work.” JISC defines digital literacies as, “the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society” and The Oxford English dictionary defines a capability as the ‘power or ability to do something’. Digital Literacy research locates ‘success’ within individual self improvement, as seen by the use of terms like skill and capabilities. The estimated size of the US self-improvement market was $9.62 billion in 2014 (source: MarketDataEnterprises); and yet, some suggest, with little evidence of success when success is defined as effective functioning in a given situation rather than people accessing the self-improvement market.

Whilst open education practitioners have spent, and continue to spend, time defining and re-defining the kind of skill or capability the individual may need to learn to be effective in digital engagement, little attention is paid to psychological findings that clearly show capabilities, and other internal dispositions of the individual such as personality traits, are a very weak predictor of behaviour. Many studies since the publication of ‘Studies in the nature of deceit’ in 1928 show that a better predictor of how we act in the world is the situation we are in and its characteristics.

People do learn, but what we know or believe in is not the only factor that determines how we behave in a situation.

This post offers a counterpoint to the mainstream idea of self-improvement as a road to effective action by reviewing a classic psychology study on the role of situational factors in the way we act. It concludes that given the results of these studies and many that both followed it and preceded it, open education would do well to look beyond self improvement as a road for addressing shortcomings and learn to ask more often: What are the characteristics of an online situation likely to lead to effective action?

Continue reading “Do situational factors trump ethics in open education?”

An open ethics review panel for independent researchers: Where do I sign up?

[ This post was published on another site on April 30, 2015]

A response to David who asks: “How could we move on, how could we build…”

I have had that feeling of deja vu for a while, it started after the honeymoon period of being in the open was over.

Initially I liked the ‘free for all, no rules’ ethos as I compared it to doing research in an institution. Then, the many years of academic training kicked in and I started to see the underbelly of it all.

This sense of deja vu came over me as I read dodgy methodologies and outputs being used as evidence for ‘how learning is for all’ and ‘how the university will be (has been?) replaced by the MOOC or its latest incarnation’. I am less optimistic than you and feel quite helpless at the ignorance I see touted as ‘good’ research out there….yet…

Continue reading “An open ethics review panel for independent researchers: Where do I sign up?”

Predicting badly or why we need an external observer

[post originally published in 2015 elsewhere]

I responded to Jaap’s interesting post

Thanks for this, Jaap. Groupthink is more than a danger in this type of group.

I was put to mind of Heli Nurmi’s excellent engagement with her experiences with this kind of group (It is worth reading the comments) and of course the interesting article that Jenny and Frances wrote which gathered data of the impact on people of ‘the tension between openness and cohesion’ that Daniel talks about.

Continue reading “Predicting badly or why we need an external observer”

‘I see mostly preaching and I am worried’

[This post was published elsewhere in 2015]

This is a response to Heli’s deep and honest reflections about open online learning.

I titled the post with a quote from Heli in the comments to her post as it resonated with some of the concerns I have been experiencing recently. I was deeply touched by the post and how in listening to a book review of a book about one topic new frames of learning opened for her.

Continue reading “‘I see mostly preaching and I am worried’”

Creating an ethical commons

[originally published on another site in July 2015]

My response to Viv’s plea for an ethical commons and a 6th R of Open – Responsibly!

I am having to add another book to my already large pile! I love the distinction matter and manner of education. We spend so much time on the matter of education and so little in the manner of education.

Continue reading “Creating an ethical commons”

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