Social Cognition: Is It Essential to Digital Literacy?

This week I have not been able to connect live with the #ETMOOC sessions so far, but I was able to access the archived session of Doug Belshaw ( T3S1 – Introduction to Digital Literacies w/ Doug Belshaw (Feb 18, 3pm) – see also Doug Belshaw’s resources).  This is a new subject area to me so I wanted make sure I caught up.

I was fascinated by a very long negative comment in the Etherpad.  It went on for quite a while about all of Doug’s deficiencies as a presenter; with criticisms of his verbal style, his citations, and his lack of referencing to predecessors.  It was up high in the Etherpad document so it was the first thing I saw.  I read it and had a sinking feeling about this archived presentation.  Then I watched the presentation.  Doug stated that he was from the North of England.  That is pretty obvious from his accent.  I admit it took me a few minutes and some increased volume to attune my ear to the rhythms of his speech.  So I thought, fair enough anonymous (as far as I could tell) commenter, maybe you don’t hear well and I can see how that may have been legitimately frustrating for you.  Another criticism was the lack of citations and references to “predecessors”.  Hmmm, look down at all of the links, and listen to Doug’s comments about not getting into details and formal academic references in this particular venue.  So I disagreed with the anonymous commenter’s opinions as well as with his (her) tone.

The topic was digital literacies and the group was invited to consider definitions, to collectively construct their definitions, and to challenge themselves and each other towards deeper, critical thinking.  Doug’s thesis was that there are 8 essential elements: cultural, cognitive, constructive, communicative, confident, creative, critical, and civic.  I loved the periodic table reference as well as some of the discussion around whether these were elements which changed essentially when combined and also whether further concepts were covered if they were thought of in pairs and threes.  This is great fodder for my continued exploration, so thanks everyone who contributed to my learning even though I am accessing it after the fact.

@dajbelshaw tweeted: “digital literacies are plural, subjective and highly context dependent” which connected me immediately to a workshop I gave this morning about social cognition.  Effective social cognition is the ability to share space effectively by adapting efficiently. What may be appropriate or expected in one context may be very out of place in another.  Is there a connection between digital literacies and social literacies? Would social literacies fall under the cultural element or perhaps a combination of that element with the communicative and cognitive? 

To return to my original fascination with the anonymous commenter; I think my main objection and disagreement was the social cognitive gap with his post.  If it was private it may have been acceptable, if it was attributed and further discussion could have been added, it would have been acceptable, if it had not been in the context of #ETMOOC where the conspirators and the rest of us have worked hard to create a respectful space to share ideas, maybe it would have been acceptable.  So is someone who misses on all of those social cognitive fronts considered literate? Not in my books.


Slices & Forkfuls of Pie


I’ve been thinking about my responsibility for learning a lot this week.  Certainly the more experienced online folk here in #etmooc have been influential and helpful, and have shared their tips, tricks and other very practical suggestions.  This sense of community has been invaluable as I start to ponder why I am doing this.

Part of my answer to the responsibility question is inspired by Dave Cormier’s session on Rhizomatic Learning .  He talks about some of the factors that differentiate an online community from an online course, one of them being outcomes. Benjamin Wilcoff’s vlog about learners taking responsibility for their own “slice” of learning resulted in people in the community reflecting about how to actually do this and got me thinking about pie.

How do I figure out which slice of the pie to select?  In fact, how do I even choose which pie?  If I stop to think about all of the different, potentially yummy pies out there I begin to get…yep, overwhelmed.  So I will allow myself to feed my brain and my heart by taking bites from the various forkfuls offered by the people beginning to populate my PLN.  I’ve been doing that.  There is some very good pie out there, and some I’m not so enamoured of, but my appetite is increasing.

One of the “lessons” I took from the Rhizomatic Session was that learning won’t really happen if I don’t figure out some goals and go after them.  I have struggled with the concept, but after exploring that a bit I now understand that I did have to show up with some goals, but I was also perfectly free to expand and change them.

My initial goal when I started this process of #etmooc was to eat as much “pie” as I could.  Now I realize that in order to truly learn and grow (and not just increase my dress size) I would have to start baking and offering some pies of my own and getting some exercise as I move around and offer forkfuls to others. I have commented on some blogs and interacted here and there, but it’s time to step up my game.

One small contribution is that I have started offering some forkfuls to my colleagues at work.  Some of them will be enthusiastic, some will be cautious, and some may even categorically state that they are on diets.  I hope to find myself some people who already love pie, and perhaps stimulate the appetites of others. My goal right now is to become a better baker.

Photo Credit: <a href=””>jamieanne</a&gt; via <a href=””>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;