VI International Seminar on Open Social Learning (II): Facebook project, an embodiment of edupunk at a public university

VI International Seminar of the UNESCO Chair in e-Learning

The Facebook Project. Edupunk and the redesign of power/knowledge relations in a public university setting. Alejandro Piscitelli, Former CEO of Educ.ar, education portal of Argentina. Professor at the School of Communication. University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Notes from the the Open Social Learning, organized by UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning and held in Barcelona, Spain, on November 30th and December 1st 2009.

We would like to build something like “the fun theory” within the class. We don’t want to use just textbooks for teaching communication. We want to use new media, especially video. But what is the difference between showing text and showing videos? We need to let learners “do” by themselves.

Learning literacy cannot be just a private, isolated activity.

Different generations: baby boom (50’s), X generation (60’s), Einstein generation (80’s). The latter are faster, smarter, more sociable; they will get into the job market in a few years. They are digital natives. They have an identity their parents don’t understand. Everything what we knew is changing.

Digital ink, iphones, e-books, etc. Augmented reality, new ways of processing information, new interfaces for experimentation, multi-touch devices, etc.

At the beginning some students were reluctant to use Facebook for taking a course. Now Facebook has 350000000 people, is one of the biggest “countries” in the world. Facebook has demolished established limits, making web 2.0 mainstream. It’s a way to “structure” Internet. It converts users into publishers.

Connectivity + contents + group production = Edupunk

There are six dimensions of analysis: participation, media convergence, virtual communities, architecture, identity construction, economy and sustainability.

Q&A

What about identities built upon different dimensions? How can you mix professional and personal dimensions?

You can separate identities, but this was not the point of our project, as it was not our concern. We are interested in providing learners with a different platform to do different things.

How did you build the bridge between learners and the new methodology, especially at the beginning?

In fact we had more problems with teachers. Older teachers didn’t want to get involved into the project. They prefer to talk to the mass, which is not allowed in Facebook. So we had to invite external teachers to fill the gap. On the other hand, students are “fluid”, they go with the flow.

In my opinion, four things must happen for a successful experience:

it must be engaging

they must be able to show they are the best

they must be allowed to be with their friends

–         they must feel part of something bigger.

What were the limits you saw in Facebook?

Facebook is not a learning tool. We noticed that young teachers become tired of Facebook, they need something newer, so we plan to move to videogames or similar platforms.

What about illiterate learners? How can you include them in such experience?

In fact most of them were illiterates to some extent. But Facebook is a simple technology. Anyway, we want to test new tools.

Will teachers get used to this new methodology? Or they will relay on others to?

Students get so much committed that they demand constant supervision, so teachers cannot “hide” from them.

What are we using technology for? Just for fun or to see what happens?

Not really. Suppose students don’t want to use a tool. It didn’t happen but it could be possible. Using Facebook is not a goal in itself. Our main goal was to think with images, information visualization and so. We want students to develop visual metaphors and put them in a short video. We want them to do that but we don’t want to teach them how to do it, they need to discover it by themselves. We want to create an environment that nurtures them.

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