Web 2.0: Reflective and Critical Practices

The postgraduate and early career researchers who have attended the social media sessions I’ve been running with LeRoy Hill over the last year bring with them rich and wide-ranging learning experiences and perspectives.

Some might have been under the impression that we are on some sort of crusade with web 2.0, but we are not. It’s always been about raising awareness of its potential. We recognise that the values of these tools are highly situated in each researcher’s individual practice and disciplinary research culture, and many attendees are rightly apprehensive over the appropriateness and usefulness of social media in their studies and work. We welcome current users who share their social media practices with other attendees, often supporting our enthusiasm with fresh and unique perspectives. But we are equally happy for them to share bad experiences, misconceptions and concerns. This is why we try to encourage an interactive environment and opportunities for discussion.

I can’t speak for LeRoy (though I think he’d agree), but I’m happy for attendees to go away choosing not to adopt any or all of the social media we discuss, as long as the sessions have given them the opportunity to reflect on their own use, or potential use, of these tools, and encouraged them to think critically about their applicability to their own practices and the wider contexts of web 2.0.

This approach also informs and underpins the modes of enquiry and analytical model I am developing for my current PhD work with doctoral students. But what do we mean by critical and reflective practices? Both draw on rich historical and contested models and definitions, which I will not attempt to review here. Rather, I’d like to suggest how these (in my view, often interrelated) practices should be embedded in the processes postgraduate researchers adopt in using social media.

Reflective Practices

  • Identifying appropriate web 2.0 resources and services, and evaluating the affordances of specific tools and platforms for academic practice
  • Developing self- and collaborative organisational and time-management skills in relation to social media use, including the use of technology-supported strategies
  • Identifying appropriate technical know-how and training needs, and using training opportunities (formal and informal), online resources and other sources of support
  • Recognising the transferability of web 2.0 skills and digital literacies in lifelong learning, professional development and employability contexts
  • Engaging in opportunities for sharing practice and technological skills with peers
  • Developing potential for individual, participatory and collaborative action planning and learning design

Critical Practices

  • Negotiating new socio-technical academic community and network development and boundary-crossing activities within disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts
  • Recognising shifts in academic protocols; new modes and means of production, peer review and knowledge resources
  • Adapting to new practices in academic integrity and responsibility; referencing and attribution of digital sources and artefacts
  • Identifying inconsistent pedagogies and socio-cultural and political ideologies that underpin social media practice
  • Challenging rhetorical representation of social media historically founded in the business metaphor of web 2.0
  • Negotiating increasingly blurred boundaries defining institutional, proprietary, freeware and open-source tools and platforms
  • Understanding emerging multimedia and multimodal literacies
  • Managing online identities and reputation

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8 Responses to “Web 2.0: Reflective and Critical Practices”

  1. Tweets that mention Web 2.0: Reflective and Critical Practices | PhD Blog (dot) Net -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Thesis Whisperer, Andy Coverdale. Andy Coverdale said: New blog post – Web 2.0: Reflective and Critical Practices http://phdblog.net/web-2-0-reflective-and-critical-practices/ […]

  2. virginia Yonkers Says:

    I especially like your critical practices list. It rightfully assumes that culture is ever changing and dynamic, yet we need to be aware of that as both learners and instructors.

  3. LeRoyh Says:

    Andy, I cannot agree with you more. You have captured our interest and sentiments of the sessions. I think as you mentioned knowing that as academic researchers we are to critically reflect on the practices that could enrich our research experience. Not knowing the implications of using social media in academic discourse is not an excuse not to engage, but an opportunity to critically inform our practice. Well done mate.

  4. Elaine Aldred Says:

    Thanks Andy and LeRoy for two very intereresting seminars. It made me aware of how useful social networking can be for research. Following your tweets on my newly acquired Twitter account has provided some very useful leads. You have at least one convert.

  5. Andy Coverdale Says:

    Hi Elaine. Thanks for your contribution in the sessions and your kind words here. I hope you continue to find the things we discussed useful in your studies.

  6. Anne Marie Cunningham Says:

    Hi Andy,
    This is a great post. I especially like that you highlight the business metaphors which are too eagerly taken over. One which irritates me is the notion of ‘branding’. I’m not sure how you could cover all of this in two sessions though!
    Anne Marie

  7. Andy Coverdale Says:

    Hi Anne Marie. I know what you mean. It sometimes seems self-branding promotes a strategic use of the web that goes beyond digital identity development – which I discussed in an earlier post – to embrace a wider neo-liberal agenda of network individualism and micro-celebrity.

  8. ePortfolio Development: A Sort of Art and Design Perspective | PhD Blog (dot) Net Says:

    […] of web 2.0 tools within the context of developing a distributed ePortfolio. As I noted in a recent post, successful adoption of social media – for whatever purposes – requires developing key critical […]

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