#CritLit2010 Reflections on critical literacies Part I

I am still “digesting” Heli’s great reflection post,  especially on her discussion of the current emphasis and role of technology in learning, or the TEL (technology enhanced Learning) as one would claim. Are we focussing on the needs and expectation of learners, the learning process, the learning design or the technology or PLE/N?  What would be the literacies that are critical to improved learning in this online environment and digital networks?

As the tools we use are changing from one learning space to another, I think we are going to come up with “new”, emergent and novel terms, literacies, and metaphors, with one replacing the other as new tools superceded the old ones as we move on. This is apparent with the introduction of Twitters, Facebook, where we seem to communicate with a new “language” and have to adopt additional literacies in order to  adapt to such social learning environment.  We also appear to be morphing along in these virtual media and learning spaces with different trajectories, where some would be more focussed and feeling quite comfortable with the media spaces, whilst others might find these media spaces too distracting, overwhelming, or fascinating in their learning journeys.

Besides,  it seems such media space movement are just accelerating, with a state of “flux” where most of the educators and learners would be awe to ask: “What would be the next state of art of learning tools and media available for us?” and “What are those new or novel media/digital/information/communication/technology literacies” that are required in order to communicate and learn well within those emergent media spaces?

Do we really understand the impact and implications of these tools and media space on our learning?  How secure and reliable are they in our learning? How confident are the educators and learners communicating and learning in those media?   Are people really critical in their conversations within those spaces?  Or are people more empathetic when they start to connect more closely with each other?

As Jenny has pointed out, a familiarisation of the tools for use in the course and orientation introducing people would be really helpful for some of us who still are wayfinding in this course.  This will build up the connections that are necessary at the early stage of an online course.

For Jenny, Mike, and some of us who have been around for sometime since CCK08,  a light connection would be enough to spark our “passion” together. However, we might need to be aware of the digital and expertise divide that often exist in an online course.  This has been discussed in our research on CCK08.

So it would be imperative to show our welcoming support to others who may be new or are still lurking in this open learning environment. This could only be achieved if each of our course members show their courtesy to others, or by giving a helping hand in using some of the tools, whenever it is needed by the networkers. It’s more important to establish a conducive and warm online learning environment that people are comfortable to learn with, before we could even be “critical” in our sharing of critical thinking in the course.

Besides, critical has a “critical connotation” meaning that we would need to present our views or opinions basing on evidence, good reasoning, and be reflective and rational in our thinking.

Are there any differences between reflective thinking and critical thinking?

May be what distinguishes reflective thinking from critical thinking is that we could still consider the pragmatic while reflecting on our experience, where being critical would mean that our judgment should all be based on objective evidence, good reasoning, without personal biasing.   I am still trying to figure out the nuance between reflective thinking and critical thinking.

Jenny in her post Cognition mentions about the various literacies that Howard Rheingold has highlighted here and here on 21st century media literacies.  I am comfortable now in learning these literacies, and I have viewed the videos and found them very interesting.  How reliable are the sources of information?  Be a detective these days, as Howard mentions, when searching for information, and be focussed on our attention.  Ulop mentions in his post: Perhaps then the goal of a Net-assessor (human or machine) would be to determine trusted sources.  Are we able to discern such sources of information? May be we need to source such  information that are also provided by the experts and authority, as cited by Carmen, and those through “collective intelligence“.  Are we able to conduct multi-tasks and still be able to practise critical thinking as mentioned by Howard?

However, I really don’t know what the next wave of literacies would be. Take a look at Google Wave, and what its impacts are on the need of literacies. Are we still waving? Or are we still looking for the new technologies that could “integrate” all these tools into one, that makes learning much easier?

Would I be going with the flow, in media literacy?  Yes!


#CritLit2010 Reflection in response to a reflection

This is my response to Ruth’s reflection post.
I like your reflection, full of emotions, revealing the other side of “critical thinking” – the empathy that are equally important to thrive in this era of education and business. I resonate with your feeling: “However I don’t feel very empowered when I am engaged with someone who practices Glasser’s powers of reasoning. The only place I can go with gut feelings is into more feeling and that doesn’t sway another’s mind to empathy. I wonder if minds like to meet minds, emotions like to meet emotions and bodies, other bodies?”
When I learnt about logic, reasoning etc. in my Logic in Maths, in college and University, I didn’t see how it could be reasoned in real life, may be it was too “simplistic”.  Even now, I understand that individual’s logic would often have to give way to the collective wisdom (the team approach) – as we continue to focus more on the vision, mission and use of “objective evidence” which are held as the golden “rules” of institutions.
Leadership, or management are on the other hand, still filled with emotions rather than logic, mainly because that leadership is more about relations, intuition, and not just logical deductions. We all talk about being ambassadors of our institutions, and promoting and projecting a positive image to the community, to the global audience.  Why? Is it an emotional response to our call of “local” and “global” citizenship?  What sort of evidence would we need to prove ourselves to be a good citizen?  Is it critical thinking?  Or is it a result of emotional intelligence?
This trend of emphasising emotions over reason is especially the case when “scientific management” once promoted by Frederick Taylor was once sentenced to be inhumanistic, and are further reflected on the current economic crisis and the recent “meltdown” due mainly to illogical and irrational decision, with greed spreading throughout those businesses. So, what does it mean when we think with logic, evidence and good reasons individually?  Are our individual values in line with our aspirations, our community or our “world”?

From Flickr

#CritLit2010 If you are interested in Classroom Assessment Techniques, then this is for you

This Classroom Assessment Techniques provides a great summary of formative and summative assessments, and the associated techniques.

Assessment is one of the critical literacies of teachers and learners, both inside the classroom and in an online learning environment.


For a learner, once we started a course, it would be imperative to:

(a) understand why we are doing the course (i.e. our motivation of doing the course, our needs and expectations – what is in it for me?), and assess and check our readiness of learning;

(b) know how our learning would be assessed and evaluated, and when such assessment (formative and summative assessment) would be done.  This would help us in identifying our goals (what we are going to learn), developing our learning strategies (how we are going to learn) and what actions are required, by and with whom (instructors, co-learners, and other networkers);

  • know what sort of tools (Web 2.0) and techniques (PLE/N) or VLE are required, and how to learn those tools;
  • know and understand who we are going to be learning with (instructors, co-learners, networkers, communities and networks);

(c) understand how we are going to evaluate and review our learning, so as to improve and develop our capacity of learning.  This may be done through reflection and critical thinking.