The role of abundance

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This week involved exploring ‘a pedagogy of abundance’ Weller (2011)

Weller describes the following features of a pedagogy of abundance

  1. Content is free.
  2. Content is abundant
  3. Content is varied in its format (text, image, video etc)
  4. Sharing is easy
  5. Social based
  6. Connections are ‘light’’ – we make connections and build a network. These are easy to maintain as they don’t need one to one attention.
  7. Organisation is cheap – Clay Shirky (2008, 31) argues that the ‘cost’ of organising people has collapsed, which makes informal groupings more likely to occur and often more successful.
  8. Based on a generative system – affordances of the internet, specifically, unpredictability and freedom allow innovative developments
  9. User generated content emerges, ease of generation allows users to remix and develop content.

A key question to be answered in this exercise is:

“how do we best equip learners to make use of ‘abundance’?”

The following represents my reflections on this question

Search skills

The unregulated, unedited and unmonitored nature of the internet means anyone can publish anything. Developing search skills and understanding how to critically review sources is essential. The Michigan State University has published a list of resources to help evaluate online resources including websites http://fod.msu.edu/oir/assessing-online-resources

Knowledge of CC licensing

Ensure learners understand that not all content is free. Learners need to differentiate between free content and content that is subject to copyright, understanding Creative Commons licensing and how to apply it.

Knowledge of quality criteria

The ability to differentiate between high and poor quality resources is essential –knowledge of quality criteria such as that devised for Learner Generated Content by Perez- Matteo et al (2011) where a framework is laid out to assess content, format and process.

Online presence, confidence and being safe.

Learners need to be supported to develop their own online ‘voice’ and develop a presence in an online social space. If the pedagogy of abundance exists in the social space with light connections and is based on sharing and generating content then learners need to feel comfortable to share and put their work on display.  This also links to staying safe online and learners developing online boundaries.

Reuse and Remixing skills

Often resources are produced in a specific context and it may be difficult to remix and reuse in other contexts. Additionally, the lack of digital skills may prevent some learners engaging. Together these make it seem simpler to start from scratch or not to bother at all.

Motivation

One last comment from me on motivation. All of the above makes the assumption that learners are sufficiently self-motivated to want to engage. There is probably more work to be done in explaining the ‘what’s in it for me?’ to the learner as currently a ‘pedagogy of abundance’ may seem overwhelming and just too much effort for too little a return.
References

Michigan State University. Assessing Online Resources (website) http://fod.msu.edu/oir/assessing-online-resources

Pérez-Mateo, M., Maina, M.F., Guitert, M., Romero, M., 2011. Learner Generated Content: Quality Criteria in online Collaborative Learning. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning 14.

Weller,M. (2011) ‘A pedagogy of abundance’, Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, vol.249,pp. 223-36. Available online at http://oro.open.ac.uk/28774/ (last accessed 15 April 2016)

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