Internet Intent Versus Actual

Social media in general has taken a leap and transcended borders that no other medium could possibly have achieved in the past.  I accept as Evgeny made it abundantly clear in his video that the internet has provided a platform for bloggers via Twitter, Facebook, etc.  To exchange ideas, make friends and promote awareness of some issues, Harness world opinion as has happened in the Arab Spring, to organise campaigns as it reduces the difficulty of collective action to certain extent and to try to influence the decision making of certain companies in the west as it has happened with HSBC in America when they decided to renegade on the promise they made to students in respect of their overdraft. Recently, parties were organised using Facebook and Twitter to celebrate the passing of Margaret Thatcher.

No one can deny the internet has made it cheap to produce content and easy to reach a wider audience. We still have to keep in mind that awareness is only manifested when the issue in question is of interest to the person targeted and to harness world opinion without the traditional mediums such as TV, Radio and Newspapers would be limited in its impact.

Invisible Children succeeded in their campaign to raise awareness of the atrocities committed by Koni in the past. If the campaign was simply about bringing him to justice, then it was a just cause but the claim was to make him stop, in this case the campaign was at least six years too late. Subsequently the campaign triggered a floodgate of theories and questions.

Is there a hidden agenda? Is it simply propaganda? Is it a scam?

Western governments were fully aware of Koni and his atrocities.

Girls and boys are raped in conflict areas in Africa.

Why not campaign to bring to justice those who dropped bombs on babies in Gaza

Would the campaign have succeeded without the blessing of western governments?



Evgeny’s views are polarized and pragmatic because he is acutely more aware of the intricacies of social media in general and online social activism in particular visa-vis the forces at play when it comes to undemocratic countries. (Most of the undemocratic countries are supported and their survival is dependent on western governments). To embark on discussing this topic without a deep understanding of the world geopolitical map, cultural and social differences and one glove fits all is crude. The claims that online social activism has led or will lead to promoting and exporting democracy, and transforming countries are misleading.

There has to be a clear distinction between online social activism in democratic and undemocratic countries (As a person activist in a dictatorial country requires more than just conviction, passion, commitment and belief in the cause, is the risk to endure torture and imprisonment if one gets caught. For a group of activists, it would take a different dimension as abstractedly highlighted in the article “Revolution will not be tweeted”.


The claim that Arab spring was successful because of online social activism is at best misleading. Let’s take Egypt, the population is made up of  80 million, 160 000 household with broadband, average salary is £10 per a day for a 12 hour shift and unemployment rate around 10% without  social welfare system, and no NHS. In the case of Libya and Iran most of the online activism was carried out in the west among expatriates with no impact on the countries mentioned.

Clicktivism is a positive way to raise awareness if it is used sensibly and responsibly. Anthony Nolan Trust is foundation that deserves support.

With support from the charity Andrew McFadyen is running on Sunday April 21st for friends, loved ones and even perfect strangers. We love your support to fundraise for the Anthony Nolan Trust. Please donate if you can.


Task #5: Digital identities


Sam’s Thoughts

(received by mjg 26/2)

I found interesting Danah Boyd’s argument that kids are doing on the internet today exactly what they used to do in the mall years ago – hanging out, flirting, messing around – it’s only the location that’s changed, and that what they do now is persistent, which is good in that it lets kids do those things together but at different times, but bad in that what they do online is there on their record forever.

Her comments about the difficulties for teachers are definitely true – a teacher friend has to be very careful about what she does and says online in case any of her students find it. Also very interesting what she says about the fact that we now find it harder to trust anyone we can’t trace online, because if they’re not online it seems like they have something to hide.

I’m naturally quite shy and introverted, but online I project a much more confident and extrovert persona. I behave online pretty much exactly as I do with my close friends, but possibly just turned up to 11, as I’m not so constrained by my shyness. I actually have a group of friends who I first met online, in a chatroom, in 2002/3. They knew the online version of me first, and then we all met up and became good friends so they got to know the offline version. I think if asked they’d say that there’s not a lot of difference between the two.

Of course, it depends where on the internet – just as Levine talks about using different pats of our personalities depending on who we’e with, the same’s true on the internet.

On facebook I’m only talking to friends (90% of my facebook friends are people I know IRL), but on Twitter anyone can see me, so I tend to e more serious and restrained, even though on Facebook I’m there under my own name and on Twitter I have an alias.

Mo’s thoughts

(received by mjg 26/2)

We are at cross roads and this is just the beginning the digital identity is not limited to social media, and does not define ones personality. Those who willingly uploaded their profiles at least have the option of editing it according to what they wish to project to others. famous people use it for the purpose of enhancing their standing and use PR consultants to manage their accounts but normal people are exposed without foreseeing the impact on their lives in the future.

Even those who are simply interested in activities other than social media have also been allocated a digital identity with Google’s decision to pool users data from all it services, these are signs of things to come that no one will be immune and our privacy will be a thing of the past no matter what they claim.

Below Twitter-tastic example of two popular british persoalities

Stephen Fry and Professor Brian Cox





Asking the Whole Class

Shelly Terrell uses the example of telling students to ask their class neighbour a question. That individual might not know the answer, but if the student asked the whole class someone is sure to know the answer. Using the internet, the world (or at least our own personal learning networks) is the rest of the class. I know plenty of people who use the internet in this way, using Twitter or Facebook to ask a question, and there will always be someone following them who can answer, or at least point them in the right direction. Sometimes I’ve been able to answer the question. Sometimes you get one answer, sometimes you get lots. Sometimes the answers lead to more questions!

Twitter and Facebook are also great ways of developing a PLN – by finding friends of friends or followers of followers who have useful interests. Increasing your PLN increases the chances of getting useful answers (from the rest of the class) when you have a question. But how do you get started? How do you build the foundations of a PLN, if you’re just starting out on the internet? I’ve been socially active on the internet for years, so have an extensive and ever growing (but rarely pruned) learning network, but some of my classmates are completely new to the internet and social networking, so how do they get started? Maybe that’s a question to ask the whole class.

Rheingold’s article and this one on Connectivism both made me think about what’s sometimes known as ‘google-foo’ – the art of knowing how to find exactly what you’re looking for in the vastness of the internet – not know-how or know-who but know-where – knowing where to look. The internet is the rest of the class – it’s the rest of the world. By knowing how to search it, you can find the right person in the class to ask, rather than asking a bunch of people who can’t help. If the question you want to ask in class is about an operating system, it makes more sense just to ask the geeks than to ask the whole class. Our google-foo lets us narrow down our search.

One tenet of Connectivism is that the capacity to learn new things is more important than everything you’ve learned so far. So whatever I learn tomorrow has more value than what I learned yesterday? While I agree that the capacity to take in more knowledge is important, I don’t agree that everything I learn in the future will be more important than what I already know.

Mo thinks that all these researchers keep discussing and debating about the way technology i.e. Internet is affecting our lives as if it is a passing phenomenon. He says the discussion to be had is how to adjust and adapt to this new reality. As the traditional role of teachers and means of communications will be changing gradually in this changing world so we have to adjust and adapt to embracing the technology in general and to work on extracting the positive aspects and resources available, maybe we should then be discussing, researching and communicating and teaching ways of extracting the positive and beneficial information.

Networked Learning

A short time ago I needed to learn to hand embroider (who needs to learn hand embroidery? Me, apparently). So I consulted the internet. A quick google search gave me a good selection of sites and blogs to get me started. Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials are easy to follow and give a very extensive range of stitches, so quickly became my primary source, but I also used Needle’n’Thread for it’s well explained tutorials and web videos, Pinterest for inspiration, and a few other pages. Some pages weren’t useful at all, as they simply gave images of finished stitches with no instruction at all on how to create them.

I made a sampler following several tutorials, before moving on to embroider my finished pieces. I went from knowing nothing to being confident in several stitches in a fairly short time, all thanks to the internet. I didn’t personally know anyone who could embroider, so I asked the whole class and found several people who could show me how.

Embroidery sampler. I followed a few tutorials to test out different stitches

Embroidery sampler. I followed a few tutorials to test out different stitchesIMAG0474

Finished embroidery
Finished embroidery

Gaming V Learning

Howard-Jones tackled the issue of whether there is a clear manifestation in the brain when a person is either researching the internet or playing games and has proven that it is so but whether the impact is negative or positive, it would most certainly necessitate more research to be carried out to prove either way. Additionally he has clearly illustrated the way the brain act under different conditions in terms whether there is reward or not.

Let suppose the same experiments were carried out on chess or a scrabble player either during a competition or simply playing for fun. Are we to expect that their cognitive function and dopamine to be very different from those who are playing online games or researching the net?

‘Telling me and I will forget. Showing me and I will remember. Involving me and I will understand’ It seems the ancient Chinese understood the difference between content-driven media and problem-solving/choice driven media even back then. In this respect online games have an advantage in teaching over the traditional role of a teacher. This idea is being put into practice at the Quest to teach school in New York and seems to be doing well:, also school in Florida is taking the idea of educational gaming very literally, by using a bespoke computer game to teach American history:

Bespoke computer game to teach American history:

By far Gee’s ideas are interesting and constructive. The differences between the content driven media and media driven by choice are well defined:

Kids are often skilled and drilled apart from any meaningful context this supported by Jerome Brumer that a learner even at early age is capable of learning any material as long as the instruction is organised appropriately.

Schools can be too challenging if kids are not allowed to practice enough to attain mastery and rarely let kids design or redesign the curriculum in contrast to what was advocated by Lev Vygotsky on internalisation i.e. Knowing how the mastery of skills occurs through the activity of the child within society and appropriation when the child takes a tool and makes his own. Sam added that urgent optimism – if one is on the verge of an epic win it encourages the one to get on with it right away. Could we encourage the same ‘urgent optimism’ in children outside the gaming world? If they knew that they were on the edge of understanding something new, would that encourage them to press forward with the topic to achieve their educational ‘epic win’?

Sam and Mike think games like the immersive ones Jane McGonigle helped design do encourage people to think about massive real world problems and ways of combating them. Sam actually played Superstruct ( when it ran back in 2008, though she didn’t get quite as involved with it as she would if they ran it again now. It did encourage her to research what she might be able to do in the face of a global apocalypse. So a game did at least make her think about how she would deal with a problem. Sam playing an educational game:


I on the other hand believe McGonigal’s claims are wild: by playing online games, the world problems such as poverty, climate change and saving the world from Armageddon would be resolved. The most I can accept that individual players can commit to a cause and collectively could put pressure on their governments to deal with certain issue as has happened in Egypt

Games are not new notion there has always been games such as survival camps, playing soldiers etc. the only difference that more people have access to online games in the comfort of their homes on a computer screen in a virtual world away from solving global warming or the financial crisis (Sam added). The original enterprise was to escape one’s reality and it is still valid today.

If she was advocating that some games such as educational Quest Atlantis would lead to people learning significantly more, recalling more concepts and also leading to higher engagement, collaboration and enjoyment than I might think her presentation is creditable. Her presentation is simply a marketing ploy to publicise online games

Games give people the belief in themselves to go out and solve massive problems, but only the problems in the games. What if this enthusiasm and self-belief could be harnessed in the educational system?

Digital Collaboration


What a Hash…… Tag #########

Thoughts about the learning space we used #Twitter#

In our initial discussions, Sam came up the idea that we had our digital communications on Twitter. We all agreed not entirely realising what we were getting ourselves into.

Sam had a little experience of Twitter and had set up/started a tweet for us all and waited very patiently for myself and Mo to get ourselves into gear. (#mmstsk2) She was also using an app (Tweetdeck) which makes Twitter much easier to use. She also could send tweets via text, so she can tweet even when she
doesn’t have internet access

Myself and Mo were complete novices at Twitter and had own individual difficulties with this particular learning/communication space.

Mo initially had difficulties opening an account as demonstrated by his email as follows:

Hi all,

I have tried to twitter but I get an error “The security certificate presented by this website has expired or is not yet valid”. So I have decided to email you my ideas.

After much perseverance he managed to sort the problem, and managed to tweet some points and ideas.

I managed to open an account reasonably okay but my initial tweets were a total failure as I didn’t realise that I could only tweet so many words and that I had to include in my message the particular ‘Hash Tag’ #mmstsk2 so after much swearing at the computer screen I gave in and asked Sam for advice the next day at Uni.

My thoughts on Twitter: I struggled with the fact that you could only type 140 characters in a tweet, so if I wanted to write a lengthy message I had to tweet multiple times to get that idea across. Many times I tweeted messages and left off the ‘Hash Tag’ #mmstsk2 and then had to revisit the tweet, delete it and rewrite it including the Tag.

This maybe down to me being an utter novice to this media space but I found it to be a tad frustrating to say the least!

Ironically we did most of our communications by that old fashioned E-mail method! This was, admittedly, not really discussing the particular articles but conversing our ills with Twitter (Michael and Mo that is) or expressing problems Michael had finding time to do any ‘Tweeting’.

I personally (Michael) don’t think this was the best learning space media for this particular task because all the message paines are separate i.e. it’s quite difficult to follow a conversation between multiple persons. I think it’s really designed for one person to keep followers informed of their own thoughts and happenings. I also mentioned earlier that there is a very small limit of 140 characters per tweet and also missing ‘hash tags’ from ‘tweets’ causing me problems personally.

I now feel that I have knowledge and experience of ‘Twitter’ which is a good thing in itself, learning and experience is always a positive thing to take from life! I’m not certain that I will use it again in the future but can take comfort in the knowledge that if need be I’ll have a good idea of how to use it.

Next time I think I would use a more straight forward simple messager service such as Yahoo messanger, Facebook, skype or similar. All of which I have a little more experience and feel they would be more suitable for a task like this.

A summary of key points arising from our digestion discussion:

To view our “Twitter” conversation click on the image below.

Twitter post

Twitter Post Conversation you twit

With the Mimi video myself, Mo and Sam all seem to be in agreement. Mimi seemed to sound all nice and intelligent as i’m sure she is but she never came up with any sollutions. She seemed to drone on some what! Still Michael still enjoyed watching the video, slight crush going on there….. never mind!

The Flight From Conversation

Sam and Michael felt that we had experienced similar situations in real life that had been mentioned in the The Flight From Conversation article. There definite truths with in the article but it seamed to me to be a very negative article trying to point out only the negatives of modern communications. It definitely reeked of doom and gloom ”16 year old boy hoping to one day learn to have a real conversation” how seriously can this be taken? the article ‘slightly’ aired on the bias of old fashioned communications.

Toward peeragogy

We were all in ageement that the Toward peeragogy was interesting because this is exactly the sort of thing we are doing and actively being promoted to do and being reasonably successful at doing on our PGCE course. We are having our lectures, given assignments and trying to learn from each others knowledge and experiences. Nice!

Listed below are some interesting articles/videos related to peerogagy /





Is the internet changing the way we think?

Our personal toolkits:

The content of all of our toolkits was fairly similar, consisting of a mix of digital and non-digital learning tools, including both the internet and more traditional research sources. However, Mike and Sam include a lot of interpersonal learning in their toolkits, relying on friends and colleagues for a lot of information, while Mo is more self-reliant.

The most marked difference between the toolkits is in the styles used. Mike and Sam, the D&T students, with strong design backgrounds, both used very structured diagrams to lay out their information in a formal and easy to follow way, while Mo used a completely freeform, artistic style. While Mike’s diagram was a traditional spider chart, with discrete sections, Sam’s was more of a web, with many tools overlapping and looping back.


We discussed at length the newspaper article ‘The Internet is changing the way we think’. Thanks to the internet, and the digital age in general, new generations certainly think very differently from previous ones, and the impact the internet is having on our minds is a hot topic at the moment, as proven by the BBC’s coverage of the issue this week.

Our group’s discussion focussed largely  on the idea that people today tend to use the internet excessively for research purposes, but may not use it properly. Man has been making and using tools for thousands of years, and tools make work easier, but used incorrectly a tool can actually make more work, or be a danger. The internet is a useful and powerful tool, giving users access to unprecedented amount of information, but there is too much incorrect information on the internet to accept everything at face value. Multiple sources should always be checked, and only if several sources corroborate information should it be trusted. The user also needs to apply common sense. If information seems incorrect then it might be – we shouldn’t blindly follow technology when our own common sense and experience warn us not to. The number of people who blithely follow the directions their satnavs give them, driving off cliffs and into rivers, is shocking. Just as these drivers should have used a little common sense, so internet users need to do the same when collecting information.

Unfortunately, while adults usually know that not all information on the internet can be trusted, children today, who have grown up using the internet as their primary source of information, often do not take the time to question the information they gather and simply take it at face value. As educators, part of our job will be to teach students to question the information they find and not to rely on a single source of data, and so make the internet a much more useful tool.

Rather than being the be all and end all of research, the internet can be used effectively in conjunction with other sources, such as a person with expert knowledge – perhaps a teacher or professional with experience in the subject of interest – or a book on the subject. A single general question could be researched on the internet, which rather than providing an answer will in fact generate several more specific questions, which can then be taken to the expert, who might give rather general answers. These answers can then be pondered (utilising independent thinking) and then researched further on the internet, generating more questions, which are again taken to the expert. And so the circle continues, until the researcher decides that they have enough information and ends the loop.

We also discussed the fact that, while modern technology often replaces traditional knowledge and skills, it can also be used to teach these skills. Since matches and lighters became cheaply available most people in the developed world are never taught to make fire the way our ancestors did (and the way many indigenous tribes still do). However, thanks to modern technology like television, films and the internet, most of us have seen someone start a fire using traditional methods. If I found myself in the wilderness with no means of starting a fire, I have at least seen it done on screen, so would be able to try to recreate the skill.



The emergence of the internet has brought about a paradigm shift in the way we gather and use information, forcing us to change the way we think about information, but this isn’t the first such shift: with the invention of writing, for the first time useful information could be written down, rather than conveyed verbally, massively enhancing mankind’s ability to learn and develop new ideas. Thousands of years later the invention of the printing press gave far more people access to books (and therefore information) for the first time. Books often give only one person’s perspective, so it’s wise to consult several sources, and exactly the same is true of the internet. Access to so much information can only be a good thing. The old adage says that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a lack of knowledge is far more dangerous, and surely the ability to easily and quickly seek out knowledge, from countless sources, is a vital and empowering tool.



Correctly used, the internet enriches and enhances knowledge just as printed books did in the middle ages.

The question to ask, though, as future educators, is how best to make sure that our students understand how to use the internet to its full potential.