Adapting our Lives in a Web 2.0 World

All three readings this week seemed to focus on the ways that the world has adapted to social media and services.  In the workplace, our education system, and our personal lives, we have changed how we interact and communicate with each other. There are also new opportunities that social media and services can give us that we have no fully explored yet.  This leads to the question; how can we fully take advantage of these new opportunities when we do not fully understand how much or little limitations we have?  I will explore aspects of success and failure with both education and work-related adaptations to online services and social media.

Education

The classroom is no longer limited to school hours or physical boundaries.  Online classes and academic services used by schools are helping education reach and accommodate more students.  Ferro et al. argues that education has expanded to be more inclusive and participatory.  Students do not have to wait until class starts, as online resources can help them keep in close communication.  Online forums for classes have always been helpful for commonly asked questions by students to help everyone involved in the class more efficiently share knowledge and misunderstandings in coursework.

I cannot argue that using online services for school isn’t helpful, but I do feel like it has a long way to go.  With the budget limitations every education system has, it is difficult to quickly improve and create a more efficient online educational environment.  I am currently enrolled in two Universities and taking online courses with both.  The other University I am getting my Master’s degree in computer science.  Compared to my bachelors which was all in person, this experience has been much more of an independent journey.  Half of the fun of college was meeting people and talking to them about literally anything but school.   I do think that online courses can be improved in relation to this.  For example, what if we were provided with, encouraged, or expected to use an active communication service, like a chat service, to get to know each other and collaborate with better.  Forums and email give us passive communication, and this can lead to students and teachers only discussing what they need to get work completed.  It feels much less likely we will actually get to know small details about each other when we have our real lives offline.  Longo states that community can be as much “an act of exclusion as it is an inclusion” (p. 5).  It seems as though the online classroom has created a community that is more academic than social.

Work

When reading Pigg’s article about distributed work I was quite surprised in the direction that was taken. I thought it would focus on a company like mine with offshore workers, but instead it was much simpler.  The study on Dave and his fatherhood blog was completely inspiring.  I was very impressed by his ability to establish a niche community in a boundary-less environment of the internet.  I love that the internet gives a voice to people like this.  In the book industry, you may have the best idea, but getting published is still chalked up to luck.  Now we have this uncharted opportunity to be both a writer and an entrepreneur.  Being successful may still have to do with luck, but getting your work into a public domain is trivial.

Pigg also brings up room for improvement in the work environment especially when considering employees restrictions involving “cyberslacking” and internet monitoring.   Although it may be obvious that certain websites may be inappropriate for work, the nature of my job relies heavily on access to multiple services and social media sites.  One example is that we have Skype and most chat options blocked on our internal network.  Half of my team members live in Maryland whom I have to call daily, so we end up creatively huddling around phones and sharing web communication tool accounts just to do our jobs.  Additionally, integration with certain social media sites can be required depending on the projects we are working on.  To do this we have to ask special permission from IT to do jobs assigned to us.  Ferro et al. explores the expanding usage of social media and online services that people use to complete their jobs today.  It looks as though we will need to reevaluate our approach and the tradeoffs of restrictions vs. employee efficiency.

Both work and education have gone through a lot of trial and error in order to adapt and take advantage of online technologies.  Although there seem to be a lot of potential innovations, these aspects of our lives have budgetary limitations that cannot afford error.  At the rate technology is changing these parts of our lives may never fully embrace the newest capabilities available, but they are definitely opening up new opportunities.

Posted on September 30, 2017, in Society, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Hi Miriam, My experience in college was quite different than most, for I began college at 23 as a single mom (was going through a divorce) in Norfolk VA which consists of military (largest naval base on the East Coast), locals (mainly transplants) and students. My focus in college was solely on education, for I did not have time to socialize due to class schedule and working two jobs and raising my daughter. I did partake in some social events; however, they were focused around academic clubs (German Club, Sigma Tau Delta). Plus, the community outside the college was quite divided and more exclusive than inclusive. All created a much different learning environment. Of course, this was also before the internet and social media were part of every day life. As an instructor for online/Blended/IDL classes, I make sure I include discussion boards and interactive activities to collaborate on school work and do some socializing. I have thought about creating a class Facebook page for students to socialize. Do you agree that this would be a step in the right direction to meet the needs of a more traditional student?

    • Thank you for your response. I have a great deal of respect for you getting your college degree as a single mother while working. I can’t even imagine. I wonder how social media and the internet can help single mothers today to get more out of their education.

      I personally feel like a class Facebook page could be a great idea. It’s nice how it can easily provide a means for academic related communication or more personal communication. Of course, you brought up how people share snap chat names at the beginning of class in your post, which sounds like an equally great idea.

      • I think we had a MSTPC alumni Facebook group, but nothing has happened with it for years. There might also be one on LinkedIn. Another professor once polled students to see if they wanted a Facebook presence for their course, but many vetoed it. I think it depends on the students we get each term. Age, time, privacy are all concerns.

  2. Hi Miriam,

    I also completed my bachelor’s degree through a traditional four-year school. When I was there, some professors used BlackBoard to share notes or for the dropbox feature. When classes were canceled due to weather, my algebra professor tried to have an online class, but I don’t recall getting much out of it.

    In ENGL 700, Dr. Watts reviewed the community of inquiry theory that states both students and professors need to be “present” in an online class for students to achieve a deep learning. I was skeptical at first, but having some social interactions, even via message boards, makes a big difference. This summer, I took Advanced Editing, and there wasn’t any discussion board posting the last month of class, and I missed the interactions.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Jennifer R.

    • miriamannelevy

      Thanks for your response.

      From my experience, I definitely understand and agree with Dr. Watt’s statement. It requires a lot of self discipline to “show up” mentally for class.

      • Thanks for this info. I’ve heard Dr. Watts’ presentations on the COI framework but also have left the final month of our course to individual paper writing rather than blogging, so maybe I should set up a discussion forum for progress reports in addition to the optional Skype calls with me so you all can still connect.

        • miriamannelevy

          In Visual Rhetoric we all got assigned other students to make comments on each others draft submissions. This was great because it really helped it feel more interactive. In-person classes I could usually get a feeling for how well I was doing and how I could improve by conversing with other students, which I kind of miss.

  3. I attended college in two very different ways to completed my undergraduate degree. I went off to college at 18 and had the usual experience, but left after two years. I don’t think I would have wanted to attend school online at that time. As you point out, the social aspect which was important to me at that age would have been missing. When I went back to finish my degree 28 years later, I had a family and a full-time job. I did not have time for socializing, nor did I have any need of it, so an online program was perfect. I think online education is a great option to have, but I have a hard time imagining in-person education going away completely. Both of my daughters have enjoyed attending college the traditional way.

    I also have never tried working entirely remotely. I currently work with many people I have never met, but I still work in an office with a a core group of people. That would have been an even bigger change in my younger days, when my social life revolved around the people I worked with. As more people interact online for work and education, I wonder how far the “social” in social media can take us in fulfilling our need to interact on a personal level.

    • miriamannelevy

      Dan,

      Great points. Like Lani’s response explains, her priorities for education were not about socialization. Regardless of our ages, our priorities and learning preferences are all quite unique to us, which is great because today we can kind of pick the level of social opportunities we get from education. While I feel like my education is complemented with socialization, others will not.

  4. You make a great point that education no longer has the constraints of hours or physical walls. I love the fact that I can do homework and study wherever and whenever I have free time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.