About Identity with Etienne Wenger

Perhaps the best in First Steps of Learning and Teaching are the synchronous sessions on Wednesdays. Last week Frances Bell visited the course and this week Etienne and Beverly Wenger Trayner. (Your name is so long that I take only half of it to my heading. I’ve known Etienne for a longer time 🙂 I like the concept community of practice, we used it in teacher education and understood that boundary broking was important. I like the practice driven orientation, practice is a challenging criteria.

This time I think only about identity, its roots and concepts needed to follow it. Etienne and Beverly presented this slide :

Identity must be contextualized as the image tells: negotating identity in a complex landscape. I should like to take these concepts to describe human identity. Professional body, training and research – all are needed. Now I see, again, why it was difficult to me to follow Bonnie Stewart’s facets of digital identity. I cannot separate any digital identity, it is only listing behavioral elements, not interesting as such.

I need the whole personality and its context, cannot think without them. What did I learn in the session? Something I wrote to myself:

  • embrace the serendipity of your own history (what does it mean?)
  • category error in institutional thinkers (now I am smiling)
  • meaning is the driver of learning (true but how to find the meaning?)

Thanks for the session!

Me online: digital or what?

This post is my farewell to the digital identity week in Change11 and integrates also my posts (see February 2012) about the article of Jenny Mackness and Carmen Tschofen. They tried to add some psychological concepts to open online studies and used the traits given by the Big 5 Personality Test. This week Ailsa linked to Facebook a Mirror of Online Behavior that uses those big 5 traits. And I tried to explore mine. Here comes a picture I took via printscreen, they save my privacy but I am allowed to show what I want.

This information is cropped from the right side: The Big 5 Personality Test assesses key personality traits to get an overview of your character. It is currently the system most used by academic psychologists for personality research. Explore your personality scores and online behaviors through the links in the bottom left.

The traits they use are found in empirical surveys and show the most permanent parts of behavior. It was nice to get feedback after answering their (the mirror makers) questions. First they thought I were a man and then I got information about how common my choices were. It was a survey more than a test, but I like images and that’s why I took this picture of me online. The only interesting part here is that I have little agreeableness, it is true if something  is. I do not follow popular sources or people, I do my own choices. This is one example of online mirror of my what: attitudes, behavioral components, personality traits. Last week we spoke about digital identities, is there any such things? As I said in my previous post, voice good be a better concept.

I am sure that I have an identity and a personality – both are stable and continuously changing. I know something about myself but never everything, I can find new phenomena every day. Bonnie Stewart gave us some facets for describing digital identity and we learned a lot when using those concepts. I have to say that I do not really understand the concept ‘performativity’ because I cannot translate it, it cannot be found in vocabularies. She defines it in her blog post

the concept covers a lot more than the idea of performance does, and disrupts the ideas of authenticity and falseness or surface that tend to go with “performance” in our cultural usages. to be performative within social media isn’t to be fake…rather the concept of performativity suggests that there is no such thing as inner reality or therefore outer fakeness. important for the work i’m doing to tease apart our practices within social networks.

She thinks that people cannot pretend, they are what they are? She has problems with authentic:

authentic. that word. if there was one word i could ban from conversation entirely, that would be it. not because i don’t value it – i do – but because it falls into that “i know it when i see it” category but damn, does it ruin a lot of conversations.

No wonder she feels to be in crisis: conversations need participants but what are they? I wrote about understandings and misunderstandings in moocs and here it is again. If I live in a different world how can I follow Bonnie’s thought or feelings. I was surprised that the discipline in her Mendeley site was Education, not Sociology. Sociologist may look human beings outside, far, but educators? If they do so they are behaviorists? A new concept came to my mind: networked behaviorism?

Once again I try to understand the place of behavior in human life. I wonder if there is a connection between the big 5 personality traits openness, conscientiousness, extravesion, agreeableness and stability and the performativity in Bonnies’s model. She says

..we bring ourselves into being, performatively, by constant repetitive, gestural citation of practices that are intelligible according to the norms of our culture.

It hadn’t occurred to me how performing a role … can be extraordinarily intimidating: at least, it hadn’t occurred to me in years, since the last time I stepped so far out of my comfort zone to do something in public. The intimidation factor of performative acts may be something to consider when encountering people who are resistant to social networks and digital endeavours: online interactions tend to be more visibly or overtly performative than other aspects of our lives, and self-consciousness may contribute to some people’s hesitancy to engage.

There is something very interesting in this quote. Why this public life via blogs is suitable to somebody and quite impossible to many. I think we have  to look deeper in human minds even it is challenging. Behavior and performativity (?) are not enough. They are observable and easy to quantify but not explain anything.

I want to understand deeply but I like to play with ready-made devices as Klout. Today it tells that I am a networker, my scores have gone up for some reason.

Klout cannot tell my influence but I have connections to these people .. and many others. I know who I am but why not to check  these scores (if only I remember).

I noticed that Jaap tried to combine concepts of inner life to digital identities in his blog. And Wolfgang Greller gave an elegant description about Bonnie’s six facets, much better than I did. I found the Facebook group Change11 and got some new friends there. The identity week was worth living but not easy to say what I learned. Time will tell, as always.




My real digital identity for Change11

Bonnie Stewart has activated many participants this week in Change11, me too. I’ve read my earlier writings and followed discussions in FB group and around some blogs. Bonnie was skillful in creating the atmosphere that she wants our comments in order to develop her own thinking. In the live session in Wednesday she tempted 50 people to participate and share many questions and enjoyable humor. Last night I could not sleep I had so many thoughts about my digital identity , so I’ve to write once more. My former posts have been too abstract, dead concepts. Now I planned an image to help me:

Identity is not stable, there must be motion in the visualization. When the digital identity is a part of the main stream (my identity), it is obvious that there are no clear borders between these two. I’ve digital life every day, I may look at my phone (mail, FB, Twitter) before my morning cafe – or not. I open my computer after walking, it is more important.

My digital identity handles only professional issues: learning, development, virtual communities, not so much about teaching any more. Private things stay private. My daughter is in FB and she accepted me as a mother there, it was funny. I can follow her life and my dear grandson if she gives photos or videos. That’s private.

My performances (Bonnie used this word) or my actions, doings are asynchronous & participative, I could combine these three facets of my digital self. The quantitative side could be the bubbles of the day, they come and go. I don’t mind about them or the brand issue.

I have made a list of good questions, these were challenging enough.

who are you online? do you want to share or sell? what do u want to share? Networked publics, what are the affordances? a friend as an affordance?

Alan Levine’s questions in his video:

Is there a clear demarcation between who you are online and elsewhere? No, not much.

What parts of you are people missing out on if they do not interact with the online you? Oh my global connections, they don’t understand how interesting life I am living at home via my computer and the broadcast internet.

Why (or why not) should you manage your own personal cyber infrastructure? What does this mean to you?

Who are we in this space where the online world is not something distinctly separate?

It is easy to say that I am always this same simple me. Matthias Melcher accepts participation and asynchronous actions to describe his digital life. He ponders the stream nature of everything in the internet, come and go and soon be forgotten. Is it possible to choose a slower participation? Yes it is I suppose, I do not have to run I can walk and look around peacefully. Jupidu got me to reflect how simple I am, she has many identities: speaks German English Italy etc and has different tempo  in different cultures. And she can dive in deep water tells her photo.

Here comes one quantified bubble of this week, my Klout score. I had forgotten it totally but Klout had noticed that I am influential in eLearning and Finland.

I am a dabbler, it sounds funny.The score is not high, should I be shamed? It has come up because Bonnie answered to me and those other activists in the picture. Klout send mails and tries to temp me to activate myself, why?

Google Analytics tells me about the visits to my blogs, it is nice to know that some opens this site and some even read this one minute or so. I am not alone. These quantified bubbles jumping from the stream have meaning – but it not the aim to get high scores. The interaction with co-learners is the aim.

I want to express myself, contextualize and find myself. Goffman used a concept the Presentation of Self, he had experiences about distress, selves are not allowed in all circumstances. It is said that in the internet hierarchies are flattened and everybody has opportunities. Find your niches, said Bonnie, and I learned that niche is not a closed box as I thought from some earlier presentation (of danah boyd).

I don’t like a concept “Digital Identity” or “Self” any more. I should like to say my Voice or my Presence. And I should or could manage my presence better than I have done. I should write a short presentation, key words in my profile sites here and there…

Identity or digital identity

I have used Marguerite Koole’s research earlier in this blog (June 1st 2010) in order to understand identity issues. After reading her research again and listening the recording of CIDER (2.3.2011) I am still wondering what to take and what to leave. Of course I had read a lot stuff about identity during my life (studies in Psychology and Education, at work in teacher education, experiences in private life etc). Identity integrates everything ans it reflects everything around us. Perhaps Koole has gathered the knowledge that old sciences psychology and sociology can give us to understand identity issues. She used for instance these concepts (a simple Power Point image again):

In the middle is cognitive resonance, through which one meets the environment, is interested in something or against something or whatever. Personal agency is in my mind different from cultural, political, structural or technological areas. Personal agency cannot be separated from those issues, we grow and socialize ourselves to the surrounding society and built our identity. Identity is a complex concept. It is not easy to define or even describe it. Narrative identity tries to solve some of these problems. Subjectivity is complex too. Some scientists name it as the sound of identity.

Self, unconscious parts of it  – anything to do with internet? Now I remember that some young researchers in Europe (Belgium or Netherlands?) had found the quantified self. And the unconscious part of self was also quantified! I’ve to check who they where (it was after LAK11).

This week in Change11 studies identity and subjectivity. Bonnie Stewart has wisely chosen the objects for our attention: we cannot solve all scientific questions around identity, it is better to explore our experiences in digital world. It is possible to share and compare experiences.  Some of the six aspects Bonnie gave, asynchronous self for instance is a new concept. It was not needed in old times. So we can try to find what new language we need in order to speak about our digital identities. Is this obvious to you all? and I had to make a journey to find this purpose 🙂


Six key aspects of my digital identity

Bonnie Stewart has prepared to participate in Change11 as a facilitator this week. I love the theme Identity and want to learn more about it and about myself. This is a good opportunity. I have read my earlier writings and some pages which have given something to me. Chris Messina had a lecture three years ago : Identity is the platform. I used the same idea in one of my blog posts during PLENK saying that I am the platform. Often the content of identity is only tools, devices, apps or what ever they are. I want to get rid of the technical orientation as a dominating factor.

I am happy that Bonnie Stewart has a broad orientation. She wants to stay near practice, OK. I start this week by studying her six key aspects of digital identities. I planned a diagram with Power Point and do not like it any more, I have to plan a better image some day. But this is feedback to Bonnie anyway and helped me today.

The most resonating parts of Bonnie’s aspects were 1. the performative public self. I share it via my blogs and Facebook and give information in Twitter and follow others of course.

2. The participatory self is very near to the first aspect, I think. I forgot to draw more lines into the image. Bonnie’s aspects are sides of one phenomenon, performance, practice. Consumer and producer go hand to hand, you follow and you produce your own material. Some people stay as lurkers but I suppose that they are latent producers 🙂

3, The asynchronous self is very near to me,my mind,  I want to be free and make my own choices every day. No timetables, no promises, I hate phone rings too and never answer to them.

Those two parts on the right are not so easy to describe. I like learning analytics and easy ways to follow my blog visitors etc. Twitter gives information all the time. But I feel that this does not matter to me, I do not have any aims to become famous and get followers. They come when they come, groups in Facebook are good and Twitter is flexible. Perhaps I could be more conscious about the quantified me? I’ve never liked the idea of branding myself, I’ve thought it is only for business etc. But to be honest: is it obligatory to brand oneself? have I already built a brand of experienced educator, interested in human learning and virtual communities now when I am not working as a teacher educator any more. I am retired from work life after 40 years career. I am two years older than Howard Rheingold 🙂 So am I a brand?

The Augmented reality – poly-social self, I have named it as an avatar in the Second Life. She was me, not her outlook but her personality. It seems that this part of my online identity is leaving in history, I’ve not visited in SL anymore. My avatar must feel very lonely.

This is the beginning of my reflections about digital identities this week. I have not much to tell about #Change11 because I do not follow any courses any more, only sometimes visit them. Or perhaps this: I was happy when Pierre Levy commented to my blog post about his week. I was happy because he saw me just like I had meant. These are the moments that give energy to continue.

Looking for my web identity in 2011

I should change the name of this blog because I am not writing about connectivism any more. There is a course CCK11 going on but I do not need  third course about same topics, I already know the content. It was interesting to notice yesterday that Wikipedia Talk considered same questions about connectivism which I have said many times in this blog. It is not a learning theory or a theory about anything but it is international movement for like minded people to find each other. I have got a lot through participating CCK courses and I am ready to continue by myself with a network of my own. Thanks to Ailsa about her blog post about connectivism vs Actor Network Theory.

I am interested in psychological empowerment in virtual environments. I am an inquiry oriented person and want to understand psychological phenomena. Most speaking and discussion in web happen in behavior level without any insight to deep learning. I am wondering the concept self organization in virtual communities, how it becomes possible, what are the conditions for success.

I am reading the dissertation of Aleks Krotoski “Social Influence in Second Life: Social Network and Social Psychological Processes in the Diffusion of Belief and Behaviour on the Web”  and checking the basic concepts, trust, incredibility and so on. The first study assessed the relationship between network strength and attributions of trust, credibility, social comparison and prototypicality. Results suggested that network theories that describe influence on the basis of network strength do so because it implicates interpersonal and normative features of influence, evident in this community by the amount of offline information.. Avatars in SL are only a small part of web interactions.

Do I learn something new? Time will tell. I think we were near understanding at the end of CCK09 in our extra Elluminate session but for some reason I have not continued forward. I found a research community Elesig so I have to participate there. And I will follow many blogs of my friends, Jenny is working on emergent and autonomous learning. Perhaps I must do a list about my favorite blogs in spring 2011. See you!

Diversity in open online courses

I can’t stop thinking about online communities or courses, I need to analyze happenings in order to understand what my opinions are. I have many threads to this post. Yesterday Chris tweeted this picture . I noticed it is in Flickr and we have a group there, I had joined it earlier and forgot it. Now I can link the picture here. Ian Woods has done it and explains it more in his blog.

I have been pondering the hierarchies in online participation. I have tried to understand diversity of expertise. Ian speaks about the expertise to participate in PLENK and describes the situation of newbies. I have pondered possible influences of background expertise, what do we bring to the course, what we have especially to give. I have a simple picture about it:

expertonlineMember profiles in PLENK tell that most participants have high skills in ICT and some are professional experts in it. Most participants have educational professions or -how I call it – human science expertise. My third case “no expertise” is hypothetical, everybody in PLENK has some expertise background. I just wanted to illustrate that you could participate without any expertise and learn new digital skills. I know some guys who follow internet .. web .. blogoshere and they are respected because they can drop others the newest hints. They sometimes call themselves as parasites – I have named this “copy-paste” expertise. Is this behavior the purpose (excellent) or false (do not know one’s borders).

The most common story in PLENK seems to be that teachers, educators or lecturers learn new technologies to use. We  train communication skills, writing, thinking, using web tools and creative thinking. Simultaneously we have technological nerds who give us hints and help to prove new tricks. This is normal networking, concrete questions can be answered. I learn something new tools in every course.

Ian Wood describes well the situation from newbies’ point of view. It is tough to manage one’s time and follow the flow of many discussions and themes. You have to learn to use PLE, it cannot be clear from the beginning.  Organizing mentoring sounds good, or is it better to continue spontaneous mentoring, I am not sure.

Now I should combine my pondering with the scientific knowledge Kraut gave. I participate in open online courses because my self-concept tells me I am that particular type of person. I want to be part of something bigger, I want to live in global world. I am interested in human learning and development – what happens in web world? I have to experience it myself, it cannot be read from books. I emphasize community, what it stands for. If the direction is right in my eyes, I can commit to it instantaneously. I am inspired through my identity, I have identity-based commitment to open courses. I have found like-minded people in CCK courses.

How about you?

Learning theories: my personal history

I was admiring Barbara Fillip’s choices in her blog: we live in a global world and we try to catch it with our brain, our genes and all the connections we have formed during our life. This time I try to present the history of my learning theories: what I have learnt and why. Let’s try, is this possible at all. I name the decades in order to get some order 🙂 to my thinking.

1964- I began to study psychology and had my first courses about learning. We had a book written by Skinner, we could get the answer page by page, the book was reinforcing us. So I learned basic concepts about learning: conditioned and unconditioned reflexes, reinforcement, punishment, transfer. We made experiments about accidental learning, transfer, memory. This was a time of the positivistic paradigma of science: I learned to be accurate (or I should to ..) I learned the basics of working brain (Luria) and the concepts (neurons synopsis dendrites..) I understood the flexibility and complexity of the brains and the cortex.

1970- was the time of wonderful student movement in the world: I learned to participate and change the world better together and globally. I was empowerment in practice. In our university we criticized teaching and studied marxism, we wanted equal opportunities to everyone. It was the first time when children from working classes came to universities. Materialistic dialectics has been a part of my thinking since then: all is moving and changes happen through contradictions: thesis – antithesis – synthesis (Hegel). The richness of societal interactions was the key of development.

1980 Developmental psychology became my expertise and I understood human interaction as a source of all development. I also saw my two children to grow, what a excellent program in every individual .. I enjoyed. Constructivism arouse in learning psychology and criticism toward Finnish school life was large. We knew the results and lectured about them but did not see the possibility to change anything.

1988 was a revolution in my mind when I saw that theory and practice can meet each other. I worked in teacher education for adults coming from work, all kinds of vocations. The educators had courage to renew teacher education in an excellent way: newest scientific knowledge and best practice. Networked learning became true.

1990 I worked as a researcher and tried to catch the richness of reality but it was not easy. Concept maps came to the institution were I worked, Novak visited there some months.1994 back to teacher education and I was obliged to be the head of teacher education. Administrative work, I learned how slow is development in institutions and hard is to be a leader.

2000 I was happy to work as a teacher educator again. Perhaps I was more realistic than earlier, did not wait for miracles but was not cynical either. Online teaching interested me, we got a learning platform in 2002 and I began to use it. I could use our great pedagogical principles in online facilitating. In 2005 I participated in OnLine Educa Berlin. In 2006 was my first international course Inquiry oriented teaching online, I got feedback from facilitators about my own teaching, and began to use English language.

2007 I began blogging in Finnish as an online teacher. A community for social media was grounded in Finland and I participated in it. In 2008 I heard about the first CCK course – and here I am 🙂 I was wondering what connectivism is. I have found the importance of connections so many times but I had not been a part of global blogosphere. Am I now? Have to write another post about my learning in CCK  studies,  some day.

My web identity and critical literacies

There was an article about Web of Identity in Networked Learning conference, written by Marguirite Koole : Selfhood and Belonging in Online Learning Networks – and I wrote in Finnish a description about myself, in my new totally free senior life.  I need this augmented reality to keep many connections in Web.

Today I began my studies in Critical Literacies, facilitated by Rita Kop and Steven Downes. I am eager to assess my thinking and update my sources. I have heard Steven to lecture about the topic and I could not follow him, only parts, perhaps now more.  I am very experienced myself and read a lot during my long life, so I do not believe anybody. I suppose Steven and Rita like it (I mean not-to-believe). My main question will be that is there any new learning, new knowledge building, new media literacies (yes, but what?) or is it only technology which developes?

I use the Model of Online Identity built by M. Koole – it helps me to understand myself in the beginning of CL10 studies. Identity developes in reflexive interaction with environment. It can be categorized with following dimensions:

  • Political : the degree to which indivuidual or group can demand, control, sanction or enforce behaviors of others
  • Cultural: the morals, values, customs, tastes, norms of  my environment/ group
  • Structural : horizontal or vertical social structures that restrict social contact and social distance
  • Technical: abilitys to express, create, extend and share

Here you can see a simple picture about these dimensions: Personal Agency is a dimension too but I think it combines all. I have a dynamic identity in reflexive connections with all relevant aspects of my life.

Personal Agencykr

In the middle of this model of online identity should be cognitive resonance. I’ll write more in my next blog post.

The model is Koole’s, this image is mine.