Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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The Web as Acts of Kindness
By Barbara Bray    September 21, 2009 -- 08:28 AM

Jonathan Zittrain suggests the Internet is made up of millions of disinterested acts of kindness, curiosity and trust.

People like to solve problems. Wikipedia is just 45 minutes away from destruction. The readers care about it to create a counter-vandalism unit. I am finding this same thing happen with My eCoach. People are checking links, submitting websites and images, and coming up with new ideas all the time for My eCoach because they care about the community. They are also supporting each other on their teams.

We started My eCoach with the idea we would help eCoaches support their communities. A little different than wikis and blogs. What I am seeing is that more members are contributing, learning from each other, and wanting to support what others are doing. Zittrain's speech gives us hope for the Internet but how can we use this to stop cyberbullying, stalking, and concerns about predatory acts. Rekindling acts of kindness where each of us fight for each other and stop viral acts that harm anyone. Right now, we created My eCoach with the idea of an eCoach supporting, protecting, and facilitating the work of their members; pointing to other members' work and connecting people with similar interests.

The power of many of the social networking tools is how they connect people. The viral manner of the Internet is that if something harmful is posted about you on the Internet, your friends and colleagues will be there to support you. This means that there has to be a feeling of trust that you won't be similarly attacked. I found that to build trust on Facebook or Twitter is not that easy. You probably have people following you that you don't know. You can block them, but if you have alot of people, how do you know what the connections are, what they are saying, unless it comes back to you?

We also are identified by the people we are associated with. If you are part of a larger community and some of the people (you don't know) have completely different interests (be they political or religious), will you be branded one way or another? Are you a lurker and uncomfortable about standing up for your rights? Will you defend someone else and use your name or post anonymously?

Categories: "Kindness" "Acts Of Kindness" "Internet" "Support" "My Ecoach"

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By small Cheryl Vitali      September 21, 2009 -- 06:17 PM

Some profound ideas you shared I just felt I needed to log into this conversation a little.  You are so right about the random acts of kindness and how much people can connect in doing things in an online community. 

It is also very easy to be misunderstood or accidentally offend someone online as it does not have the same authenticity of direct conversation. Add in cultural differences and it takes care in being aware of how you come across in varied medium. 

The Internet has changed so much since the early pioneering days when few teachers actually used the Web and now it is an expected part of curriculum.  Even so netiquette, etiquette is still something that needs teaching all the time and with the academic rigors we are currently having how much that is addressed may be minimal to be quite honest.  The conversations we have had have changed over the years.

Also our society is becoming somewhat egocentric at times with polar opinions about many issues.  It is rather sad to be quite honest. 

My eCoach is a great community where people can venture to share ideas and develop resources.  Right now all I put online for my district over the past how many years, I'm not sure it even exists in cyberspace anymore.   That is the nature of the game these days.  I was not able to find a resource I created that I had a need for and I know I did not remove it.  That said, if I can find the time to put it on My eCoach, I know it will be there.  At least I know I have a great deal of it saved on some CDs and so on.  Such is life. 

Thanks Barbara!

Cheryl Vitali
Resource Specialist
Silas Bartsch School

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