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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Limited by face-to-face

Yesterday I found myself thinking how one-dimensional life is if you only do things and relate to people in face-to-face situations. All my relationships, including those with my kids are so much richer because the online enriches the face-to-face which enriches the online which enriches the face-to-face ... etc.

It feels quite alien to me to be part of a meeting/project where the face-to-face time is where the "real stuff" happens and where "online" means sending out the agenda by email. These experiences seems so poor, not only because you waste time following the agenda of the most dominant or higher status people in the face-to-face time rather than the most productive or interesting, but also because your experience of the people at a face-to-face event is only limited to the external things you see of them (clothes, gender, power relations ...)

Leigh Blackall writes about this on his blog "Teach and Learn Online" and I'm putting the entire post here because there's not one word that I don't identify with:

"...That's what sux about working for an organisation. Your colleagues don't take the time to look you up out find out more about who you are, what you've done, and as a result can all too easily dis what you say. To them, your just some face you has just introduced themselves in one of those almost pointless round table introductions before the meeting, and that's it. When I said things like "social networking software" you could literally see minds shutting down around you. when I talked about using available services on the Internet, and not rebuilding the Internet the way we want it - people fold their arms, sit back, and ask who is this punk?

Having an online community and a voice within it always lures me into a false sense of security. I look at it as My preferred classroom. But its one in which I have chosen my classmates (more or less). When online, that security isn't false at all. We swap links, encourage each others work, nurture each others ideas. But in the day job, in an organisation that thinks face to face meetings are productive, where everyone has been schooled and socialised, there is no online - only you, what you look like, and what you sound like. And I've come to realise that what I look and sound like can really work against me in these situations.

Given the floor, I can do alright. I have some time to dispel the prejudgements on my age, gender, clothing choice, race. I have some time to establish what I'm on about, I have some time to make a point. In a meeting, where respect is back to zero, and where it is common to cut people off and interrupt them, where organisational politics plays a part - the luxury of having the floor, backed up with hyperlinks and like minded comments just isn't there.

This is in my mind, where the school and the classroom - where you can't choose your learning community, where bullying is an element as common as the weather, were politics prevails, and where power is the currency - is totally at odds with networked learning."



Blogger josien kapma said...

Entirely true, and I am beginning to experience similarly. But, Beverly, Leigh, -what with the trend of ´filling in´ our personalities on-line, too? On-line, there is -increasingly- also externalities, that give way to quick judgements and power issues. Things like ´how good looks your site/blog´, how many hits, ... things that do not really say much about YOU.

So isn´t the cosier feel of online world partly an effect of the on-line world still being immature, pristine, and an elitist area? (parts of it, that is?) Isn´t is mainly because online learners of today are there by choice, they are the early adopters and open-minded people that you would otherwise have liked as well. And as long as you don´t have to work together power issues are not important.
If, in the future, people are enrolled in e-learning because there is no other option, will bullying, in new ways, start just as well?

3/23/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger josien kapma said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/23/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Josien ... really pertinent observation. Let's see!

I do think that the online ADDS to the whole final experience of being together - it certainly doesn't substract. So, with more ways of relating it's not just left to the ones who already decide how and in which direction relationships should happen.

3/23/2006 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Leigh Blackall said...

Its great to see my post echoing around the place, with such interesting comments.

What I detest most of all in the face to face, is here you all are with your agenda printed and your pens poised. I start speaking about something, but I can't hyper link the things I'm saying. I can't add pictures, video and audio, and most importantly I san't take my time. I get about 2 minutes to say what I need to say, and have to trust that the poised pens get it all.

Needless to say, it almost always fails, while the same thing posted on a blog for example is reaching people who actually have experience and valuable insight.


3/29/2006 03:53:00 AM  

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