#CCK11 Are you going with network flow or personal flow?

I have been pondering on this basic question since I was young:

Are you going with the flow (following the herd, or the system, or networks etc.) or growing with your own soul (personal flow)?  Or both.

Why am I concerned these days? Have I been locked up with the social and connective “networks”?  How often do I reflect on the meaning of immersion in different social media?  Do I use my own customized PLE or just rely on the mass social media?

George shared his views about the social and connective lock-ins where he states:

As Stephen noted in our discussion, we should have control of our own connections. We shouldn’t offload the knowledge that exists in our connections to a mediating software service that then mines those connections to generate economic value. An important part of PLE/Ns is giving individuals the skills and technology to control our connections. And in the process, own our own knowledge. Unfortunately, open connection-forming protocols that allow us to connect with others and share content are not as developed as the Facebook Connect/Twitter models.

We should have control of our own connections.  Would that align with the autonomous learner’s principle?  In the course of connections, especially through mediating service and tools, it is no surprise that there are economic values generated, when artifacts are produced through interactions or discourse, or research.  This also offers opportunities for the exploitation of those service provided through the news publishers, research publishers or educational providers etc. But isn’t that a by-product of the connections, that is inherent with the social media development?  Are we manipulating these connections to achieve our goals?

What are the issues?  Despite the open educational resources widely available on Google and wikipedia etc., we often found it difficult to access the more “accurate” and reliable resources for free.

For many of us, would connections be also influenced by the notion of: should I go with the flow?  What it means is that going with flow is often easier, as there are well established software or media platforms for people to dwell upon.  Facebook and Twitter provide that sort of connections that are tempting and engaging.   Rapid set-up of account with a soon to-become famous or glory may be the mindset of some ambitious networkers.  Isn’t it simple?  Just join the FB or twitter group and you would be connected to others!  But is that really enough to support one’s connection?   Far from reality!

Twitter does provide many avenues for connection, with whatever that interests those Twitterers.  However, does it mean that connection of those sources of information (via Twitterers) would generate “conversation”?  May be a casual chat only with the followers, especially if one is a “novice Twitterer”.  What is of more value likely would be the links one could follow to tracing to the information sources – like an important artifact, a breaking news, or an update of a conference on air.  How do you know the information that one is referred to contain accurate, up-to-date information?  As shared here on churnalism or news

The website, churnalism.com, created by charity the Media Standards Trust, allows readers to paste press releases into a “churn engine”. It then compares the text with a constantly updated database of more than 3m articles. The results, which give articles a “churn rating”, show the percentage of any given article that has been reproduced from publicity material.

It revealed how all media organisations are at times simply republishing, verbatim, material sent to them by marketing companies and campaign groups.

How do we know a diversity of opinions is the best way of learning?  This is also raised here

This reminds me of Bouchard’s views here Network Promises and their implications 960-1513-2-PB[1]:

Interactive networks have been represented as somewhat “ideal” environments where nodes are equally dispersed and connected in an environment devoid of the constraints of space or time. While it is certainly true that P2P interactivity offers immense new possibilities for learners, we must strive to understand the dialectical nature of the new environment. What appears to be an ideally democratic social space can in fact be subjected to hidden power distribution and arcane control.  The newly evolving world of easily accessible multi-media and social resources carries with it a corresponding challenge for learners.  If knowledge is to be freely constructed by the individual rather than by an external authority such as an instructor or a managed learning system, then the individual must develop the capacity to attribute value to various competing subjective realities,while cautiously remaining wary of inaccuracy and manipulation. Putting information and inference to the test of inherent validity requires specific skills without which the navigation of blogs and wikis might be a journey towards futility or worse, towards falsehood and superstition.

Besides, how would people un-lock those resources that are not yet open?  By blogging about it, or by summarising their views in their own words, based on the aggregation, remixing, repurposing, and feedforwarding it through different network media or educational networks, news, etc.  Such an approach poses a number of opportunities and challenges:

Opportunities include the connection with ideas and people, opening up new avenues of learning through the networks, webs, and internet.

However, there are plenty of challenges, like the power and influence issue, the complexity of way finding, and the information abundance overload, which may also lead to filter failures.

One of the key challenges include the crap detection – the critical literacy one must have in filtering information based on accuracy and reliability.

Here Howard provides a great summary of Crap detection.

How would these impact on the 21 st century learning?  Does it mean that education is going with the flow (LMS) or growing with the soul (our own connections via PLE/N)?  Or may be the soul said “yes” and so but the flow said no?

Do we need transformation before PLE/N could take roots? Can LMS & PLE/N be resolved in individual life long learning journey? Tension & power struggle!

May be we need to have the personal flow and learning power to succeed in the quest for life long learning.


BOUCHARD, Paul (2011). “Network Promises and Their Implications”. In: “The Impact of Social Networkson Teaching and Learning” [online monograph]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento(RUSC). Vol. 8, No 1, pp. 288-302. UOC. [Accessed: dd/mm/yy].ISSN 1698-580X


6 thoughts on “#CCK11 Are you going with network flow or personal flow?

  1. I think it’s important to remember that FB only started a few years ago, in order to address the needs of some Harvard students. It became popular, suggesting that other people like it. Why should you not use a tool if you like it, even if it is popular and someone makes money from it?

  2. Hi Ken,
    You may find people like it (FB), whilst others stay away from it, with all sorts of reason. One of the concerns could be security and personal privacy, and another is that often stated by many people – relating to how their conversation could be tracked down by others in open space, where they are looking for friendship.
    I don’t know the answer for all these – i.e. which is better?
    But are you going with the flow (the herd, the networks) or otherwise?
    Do you see many educators going with the flow? What are the implications?


  3. >But are you going with the flow (the herd, the networks) or otherwise?

    A bit of both, I think. Sometimes it might be good to go with the flow, sometimes not.

    >As Stephen noted in our discussion, we should have control of our own connections.

    I have control of my connections, to a large degree. I can shut the computer off, and read a book, for example.

    > And in the process, own our own knowledge.

    What do you think this means?

  4. I’m not persuaded that it’s a bad thing to earn a living from technological opportunities. For instance, I work for people in New Jersey and Texas even though I live in Ohio. And I don’t mind at all paying developers for really great software or support. So it’s not Facebook’s ability to make money that concerns me. It’s that I really don’t have a lot of control there. Users have the illusion that they are in control. Last year it took me several days’ serious work to navigate the dozens of steps it takes you to actually close your account and wipe your information from Facebook. In addition, someone I did not want to hear from was able to constantly bombard me with Facebook’s help with “friend” requests. I couldn’t seem to stop it, and Facebook re-sends those messages over and over.
    The fact is, as you point out, it is sooooo easy to actually begin that network flow and it can be really fun like Ken says. But we don’t own it. There’s a parallel, perhaps, to owning the means of production versus being a worker here that someone more Marxist than I could make. 🙂

  5. Lurkers of the world unite! Take control of the means of connection! You have nothing to lose but your profile page!
    -Stephen Downes, Twitter, Feb 25/11

    (I think he means it – Ken)

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