Thoughts on Web 3.0 (E-Learning 3.0)

Here are some thoughts about the previous post I’ve made. I’ve been thinking about the decentralized web and its repercussions. Having tried networked learning for some years now, I’ve noticed how despite the multiplicity of resources available for each course, learners always tend to seek the arguments that ground their own research objectives. There is a certain bias in their decisions to pursue this tool or the other: it looks more that they are looking for ways to support the views that they have already formed or to drive their research with means they are familiar with.

Up to now I’ve considered this to be a true value of networked learning. But when you zoom out of the strict limits of an academic learning process I see that this alone cannot be enough. There is a certain kind of responsibility in one’s actions: despite our desire to prove our point there must be something more. And that has to do with understanding the other, who the other is and why his/her reality is different. So, eventually choosing which way to go, doesn’t simply refer to how we’d like it to go but as offering another perspective on a much larger scaled conversation with others. Our views in this framework are not just personal preferences but become political in the sense that they relate to what is there even if that is different from us.

So to talk about a distributed of Web means that our learning should not be limited to sources or resources that we relate to somehow, but a new type of being with others where we are not afraid of conflicting perspectives and where we can establish a mutual agreement on staying connected despite our different views. I know diversity is one of the founding stones of connectivism, but here the notion of otherness becomes crucial in our understanding of the world. This is not diversity for the sake of argument; in the scale of the web diversity is key to democracy. It takes another kind of ethos than the one we have now and it would take a lot of effort to create the conditions necessary for this to work.

9 thoughts on “Thoughts on Web 3.0 (E-Learning 3.0)

  1. What a fascinating post.
    I have been also been thinking about similar issues over the past year and have tried to unpick what both/and thinking might involve (in our most recent research paper) as well as trying to understand what ‘betweenness’ means in relation to understanding the whole and ‘Being’. And coincidentally, a topic that I am gathering information about at the moment and trying to understand is the whole idea of the ‘Other’. This seems to have exercised the minds of many educators and philosophers.
    Your post has helped move my thinking on a bit. Thank you.

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    • Thank you for your post Jenny. I have to tell you that you are one of my re/sources in my PhD thesis and I am very glad we met in this course. I am also very interested in the concept of betweenness at least in regard to knowledge creation. I had bumped into Neri Oxman’s reinterpretation of the Krebs cycle a little while back and I think that you may find it interesting. So here is the link to my post https://ioannouolga.blog/2016/05/20/journal-of-design-and-science_mit-lab/ and you can find the full article available in it. I am not such a big fun of abstract diagrams but Oxman’s approach is a little more complex that what it looks like.

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  2. Hi Ioannou Just to let you know that I am away from home at the moment so haven’t been able to follow up on your link, but I wanted to thank you for it, as it looks very interesting and I’m looking forward to learning more.
    I am also still thinking about the concept of betweenness, so would be very happy to hear more about your thoughts on this.
    I hope to be able to spend more time on the course at the weekend and catch up a bit.
    Thanks for replying to my comment.
    Jenny

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  3. Hi Olga,
    Another attempt at posting a comment 🙂
    I agree that the internet these days seems to be turning into a multitude of mini-echo chambers, in which everyone just ends up speaking mostly to people they already agree with (or at least, getting information only from them) – and despising everyone else. The infamous Facebook news filtering, or Instagram’s AI deleting “nasty comments” are symptoms of this trend.

    However, it also seems to me that everyone has a tendency to self-select “in real life” too: I know I don’t particularly attempt to hang out with neo-Nazis for instance (maybe I should, if only to understand them better!). And that extends to the places where we receive our education, including universities: left-wing people will tend to congregate in left-wing unis, right-wing people in other establishments, etc.

    So, my question is: why do you see networked learning as not being enough, if we tend to avoid people with the “wrong ideas” both online and offline? Do you consider it easier for people to absorb new ideas during a face-to-face interaction?

    Dorian

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  4. This is such an interesting quandary. On the one hand we recognise the problems with echo chambers, on the other hand there are some groups we really don’t want to associate with. I am thinking aloud here, but it seems to me that at the heart of the issue is the way we think, i.e. are we capable of thinking in ‘both/and’ ways instead of always ‘either/or’ ways.

    Whilst we may never sympathise with neo Nazis, perhaps we can aim to try and understand (not condone) where they are coming from. We need to keep open minds if we are to keep informed. Echo chambers tend to promote confirmation bias and militate against embracing alternative perspectives and can also result in a ‘blinkered’ view of the world.

    I think ‘a new type of being with others’ is such a powerful idea, but first we have to understand what we mean by ‘Other’. This is a topic I am trying to unpick at the moment. An understanding of the interrelationship of all ‘things’ (however we interpret that), must, I think, be a beginning and the distributed web seems to offer an insight into this.

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  5. I’ll try to answer to your question Dorian, thanks for asking. I don’t think distributed network learning is not enough, on the contrary, I think of networks as one of the main tools for coping with complexity while accepting it as it is, not oversimplifying it. For me networks are not just physical or just virtual, our understanding of the world is much more open/complex than that and the resources and the people that make up for our networks are practically unlimited. I also don’t think that learning is necessarily facilitated by f2f encounters, but depends mostly on the intellectual propensity of individuals to know more. This can lead to more intimate f2f meetings but it can also flourish via online exchange as well.
    So how does distributed learning work? I think that networks require the recognition of as many nodes as possible despite what these nodes represent. Therefore, I would say that it is not a matter of what we like, as much as it is recognising the importance and the impact of each node into the network and the power relations it has with the rest of the nodes. I think that our biases prevent us from understanding not just what the other person/group is but ultimately the effect it can have onto our own lives. In your example, it is not a matter of knowing what Golden Dawn stands for as it is a matter of coping with its presence into the public domain. To create a network/graph by completely excluding it that would be partial and arbitrary.
    In this context, the Other is everything that is not me. Sometimes the distance is small, sometimes it takes a lot to get there and sometimes you don’t even want to get there. But this is different from not recognising that something is there.I like the term betweenness Jenny, it has a positive note, it is a term that itself bridges diversity, it seeks to find the common ground.

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  6. Thanks for your reply, Olga!
    Sorry, I now think I may have misunderstood your point in the blog post above – I thought you were saying that “networked learning was not enough”, while you were actually stating that “using networked learning to find more arguments to ground one’s own research objective is not enough”… correct?

    In this case I totally agree with you 🙂

    And also with the fact that, as you point out, we must learn to be in those networks, tightly linked with other people with very different opinions, and to not block them out. Diversity fully assumed and embraced, as long as all parties agree to defend this diversity and not try to persecute or harass anyone with marginal views… (and then we get into the general quandary generally faced by liberal democracic systems of how/when to define and prosecute hate speech, harassment, or other forms of symbolic violence – but that’s another topic)

    I think Jenny’s concept of “betweenness” is indeed a very promising avenue as regards those issues.

    It makes me think of “dialectic processes”… I recently followed an online course on action research, and one of the themes we explored was that of processes by which one can interact and discuss issues with people who harbor radically different opinions, and yet do so in a non-competitive (non-adversarial) way, but without negating these differences. The aim being to make win-win decisions that take into account both parties’ visions while avoiding defensive behaviours.

    A nice introduction to these techniques can be found there: http://www.aral.com.au/resources/dialectic.html

    “Dialectical processes display some of the properties of adversarial processes.  There is directness, and a willingness to express disagreement.  However, the disagreement is not used as a bludgeon to win submission from the other person.  It is used as a way of pooling information in the pursuit of better decision-making.”

    It seems to me that this is precisely the kind of techniques or conversation/interaction skills that should be acquired by more and more people, urgently, in our area of distributed networks. Maybe as part of the “conditions” you mention at the end of your post?

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  7. Pingback: My experiences of the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC to date – Jenny Connected

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