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.

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