Strong versus Weak Ties

In this Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism by Barry Wellman

Much thinking about digital cities is in terms of community groups. Yet, the world is composed of social networks and not of groups. This paper traces how communities have changed from densely-knit “Little Boxes” (densely-knit, linking people door-to-door) to “Glocalized” networks (sparselyknit but with clusters, linking households both locally and globally) to “Networked Individualism” (sparsely -knit, linking individuals with little regard to space). The transformation affects design considerations for computer systems that would support digital cities.

Are strong ties losing favour to weak ties for individuals (educators and learners)?
Let’s see.  My reflections
Strong versus weak ties
How many of us have strong connections (or ties) with our colleagues, our immediate supervisors or family members, relatives? 
Do we share our inner feelings and emotions (level 3 and 4, the deep ones) with them?
Do we trust them?
Do we comment and criticise them? 
Do we judge them in a fair way?

Have you got polarised answers?  Why?

Why do people prefer weak ties to strong ties?

– Could establish “trust” and friendship with someone at a private level (i.e. with those who are not close at work or family)

– Protect ones privacy and identity

– Hold ones integrity

– Less conflict

– More willing to share due to openness

– Become more confident in establishing relationships

– Wider connections – gain insights from diverse perspectives and learning from different domains

– A “test of uncharted waters” – could try different networks, connections

– Failure to connect or interact doesn’t harm that much, could try again

– Have dream “partners”, “co-learners”, “professors” or “instructors”…

Are there any implications with this strong versus weak ties?

Limitations with staying on with strong ties (work place, strong groups or communities)

– Learning with your peers, colleagues and supervisor or family members is limited to that of your family group, section, organisation, and sometimes within the same domain, the closed little box

– Group think – everybody tries to conform to the rules, and please others to create harmony.  Complacency follows. 

– Wrong decisions – finger pointing, poor communication, poor judgment, misinterpretation of patterns

– Waiting to be directed at work or at home, especially when one is under an autocratic “leadership” environment. Why border? Lack of initiative. Lack of innovation. Low self esteem, confidence and motivation to learn.

– Dare not share the beliefs with others.  Poor trust and respect on each others resulting from conflicts. Poor relationships follow

– Competition rather than collaboration.  Lose – Lose becomes the way

– Politics, control, gossiping, destructive comments and criticisms poison the ties.

Merits with strong ties

– Learning with your strong connections could more easily establish professional “friendship” and “respect”

– A team approach towards problem solving. Team building leading to even stronger ties.

– Common vision and missions.  Gearing of strategies towards vision and missions. 

– Adoption of a pragmatic approach in collaboration. 

– Win-Win, if the team develops positively towards “Best Practice”. Continuous improvement and innovation.

What are your experiences?

Have your dream come true?

Enjoy this Never had a dream come true.
What message did you get from this video?
For me, love.
I love to learn, and share.
Is this the basis of all connections?
In second life, we could all have our dreams come true. I mean true second life, where you could relive what you haven’t done before, love the ones you dream of loving.
This is not a fantasy age. It is an age you can have all your fantasies, with and without technologies. Does it sound interesting?
Has there been any researches done on the relationships between education, learning and fantasies (not just the SL, or immersive technologies)?
What are the implications of these fantasies for us and our next generation?
Are we living in a dream world or world of dreams?
Will the open up of fantasies facilitate education and learning?

e-Portfolio at a Glance

In this e-Portfolio by Dr Helen Barrett 

Helen mentioned that all portfolios need to include three forms of reflection, focusing on the past, present, and future. These questions are:

  • What? (the artifacts that I have collected from the past)
  • So What? (what these artifacts show about my learning at the present time)
  • Now What? (my future learning goals)

Researching Electronic Portfolios

I am interested in continuing my research on electronic portfolios in education with an emphasis on exploring and changing the predominant paradigm:

  • from an institutional focus to a more family and/or individual focus
  • from a metaphor of “portfolio as test of skills” to “portfolio as story of deep learning”
  • from institution-centered data management systems to more individual-centered Web 2.0-based, lifelong/life wide interactive personal learning environments

Use of electronic portfolios and Web 2.0-based tools

  • Create digital archives of personal and professional development (collection)
  • Maintain purposeful journals/blogs that document the learning journey (reflection)
  • Present selected works for a particular purpose and audience (selection/presentation)
  • Receive feedback on portfolios to support lifelong learning (collaboration/assessment)

ePortfolio, when used appropriately, could be quite a useful tool.  This is especially popular in the case of a mentoring program where the mentor supports the mentee in developing an ePortfolio.  It focuses on learning goals and requires the learner to adopt a systematic approach in the development of  learning strategies and action plans. 

However, in reality, there are too often emergence knowledge  and learning due to the complexity nature of learning. Rapid changes in technology and advances in theories and pedagogies may require an adaptive approach towards personal learning.   An appreciation of ePortfolio may provide strong motivation towards the achievement of challenging goals.

So, is ePortfolio helpful in your personal learning?  Or is it a hindrance to you?

Please refer to for further resources and discussion.

Are we in the business of teaching or learning?

Are we in the business of teaching?  Or rather..

Are we in the business of learning?

This Anne Barab on Education Leadership in the 21st century has an importance message:

Teachers teaching teachers how to teach everyday – the peer teaching approach, with teachers collaborating with each others in order to improve their teaching skills.

Is it quite similar to what CCK08 participants had experienced throughout the forum discussion, or the blog conversations?  How about the conversations that are happening with the Friends of ex-CCK08 Professors and participants in Facebook?

Is such peer teaching approach an ideology or reality?  Is it easy or difficult to apply in your workplace?  What are the short and long term implications to individual educators and the institution?

Can a network of educators exercise the education leadership role?

Connections with people

Thanks Jenny for sharing this important message on Connecting through people’s people. Face to face interaction conveys far more emotions and could allow for deeper sharing of feelings, knowledge and experience, and learning. As noted, it is the conversation that is most important.  And it is a two-way process at least for two parties.  However, technology mediated conversation could enable multi-connections and thus could enable multi-conversations to take place, though the fidelity may not be as high as that of face-to-face.  It could overcome the tyranny of time and space, so that nearly everyone could take part in the conversation over the web with Web2.0 tools, in particular.

The best form of conversation most likely happens face-to-face, and it is already a reality via MSN, video conferencing and even life chat supported by on-line videos.

The only draw back with real face-to-face conversation, I suppose, would be the lack of space for reflection, and the problem of time and space under certain circumstances.  It could even be costly, as you might have to travel long distances to meet the people on the other side of the globe.

I am still pondering on the deeper art and implications of these connections.  How traditional conversation differ from our current conversation over blogs, wiki/Ning/FB/SL networks in its fidelity, its significance in education and learning in the communities, and the impact of such technology mediated conversation on the communities and educational institutions.

Many thanks to Jenny for such an inspiring post.

What we could learn from Connectivism? Connections with the community

Great to learn that your community (by Keith Lyons) is so committed. I hope every one is well. And with the support of so many other enthusiastic volunteers in the community, I am sure that your community would be able to overcome the threats of fires.

This also brought me back to my memory on community service. 

When I was in my early twenties, I participated as a volunteer in the Community and Youth Office, part of the social welfare department in the government.  I was elected as the Vice Chair of a Volunteering Association called Dawn’s Association after a series of events were organised and run for the poor families in a community (with a few thousand people).  Our Association was made up of youth volunteers between the age of 17 to mid 20’s. We organised game stalls, cartoon shows, visit to soft drink company, picnic during a summer vacation for the young kids of poor families.  On one occasion, whilst I was leading the kids to a picnic, I witnessed one of the most memorable incident on our way in a coach.  I noticed a small kid (may be 7-8 years old) was really enjoying his ice-cream cone.  After a while, I was surprised to find that he has finished eating it without any wrapper left behind.  Oh dear!  The kid has eaten the ice-cream cone with the paper wrapper. On the same occasion,  I noted another kid dropped his red-bean popsicle on the deck of the coach, but he immediately picked it up and continued eating it without any hesitation. 

What was the lesson I had learnt? Kids of a poor background needs education, or at least they need to learn about what is edible, and the health, hygiene and safety aspects!  Besides, they need strong support and care of peers and adults  throughout their early stages of development in the community.  

Everyone needs such support through social networking, and learning could be greatly enhanced through those valuable connections.  And that’s education!  And we could then be able to better understand each others’ needs through the networking processes at this digital age.  

In our community, we need to support the poor and disadvantaged too, just like the kid’s example, so they could live with pride, confidence, and decency. 

Are we all born with compassion towards our fellow citizens?  How could we show such compassion towards our community?  Is it through our continuous involvement in our community?  

So, I  echo with Keith on the needs of building our community, to make it  a better place for everyone to live in.  Social networking and education are just like the two sides of the coin.  They work side-by-side. 

Are these also the result of valuable connections – to the community?  Does what you give and contribute to the community make a difference?  Is it the learning we share through Connectivism?

We are already witnessing all these community building through our blogs, networks – and the New ConnectivismEducationLearning network as well!

Hoping that we will continue our contribution to the community through our wonderful acts of love, care and support.