Network Literacies is a news aspect of the media program at UNSW that allows us all to work together with news forms of online publishing.
Let’s begin by saying that the best way to get involved in this is—well—to get involved. If you don’t at first understand things like RSS, use them! This post will get you on your way. You’ll soon get the picture (quite literally).
We’ll be using social networking tools such as blogs and microblogs (e.g. Word Press, Twitter), image and video sharing (e.g. Flickr, YouTube—including UNSW TV), and data feeds (RSS).
However, it’s not about the technologies! It’s about bringing people together in new ways to enhance everyone’s education and research (it will also enhance the “research-teaching/learning nexus”).
It’s for students and staff—for students and staff to engage with each other, for students to engage more actively with other students, for staff to engage with other staff.
It’s also for UNSW to engage with the rest of the world, in both education and research.
It’s flexible. Today we’re just beginning to set up a framework to work with. How students and staff will develop this is something we’ll see over the next 12 months.
It’s still something of an ongoing experiment. We think it will be great and we hope overall a positive experience. At the same time, as with all contemporary media, it will always be a changing experience. Many things will work—some won’t. We’ll learn from the latter and move on.
It will usually, to varying degrees, supplement other aspects of education and research. It’s by no means a replacement for talking face to face, for classrooms, or for sitting in the park reading a book or thinking things through.
It’s not Facebook. For lots of reasons (Facebook is too closed, keeps changing its rules …)
It should make it easier for all of us to work with each other across different media (text, images, video, data—and the relations between all of these).
It should make it easier for all of us to work together across different content. We’re starting with media courses, but hoping that the Network Literacies Project will also help you read poetry, explore the history, make music, think philosophically, make better social policy … the possibilities really are endless.
Two quick summary points, before we get into it.
First—you’ll be using lots of “technologies”, and there are some tools we’ll be making compulsory for everyone involved. Again, however, it’s not about the technology, it’s about being able to use whatever comes up next to work with networks, and to build your own networks for your own uses. It’s about engaging with what’s happening now, and more effectively (via archives and databases), with what’s happened in the past. It’s also about adaptability and “future-proofing”.
Second—relax! Both staff and students are moving into this as a kind of happy experiment. We’ll be learning from each other and in the process developing what we hope will be a happy and helpful network culture that should enrich your experience at UNSW.
Thanks to the UNSW Learning and Teaching Centre, and to Sean Brawley in the Faculty’s Learning and Teaching administration, for providing funding for various pilot projects. Gay Hawkins, I (Andrew Murphie), Meg Mumford, Olivia Khoo, Ross Harley, Gillian Fuller, Brigid Costello, Alyssa Rothwell, Ed Scheer, Xavier Fijac, Anna Munster, Adnan Lalali, Peter Cossey and Mat Wall-Smith have all worked on these early projects.
Most importantly, Mat Wall-Smith has been the conceptual and technical engine behind this current Network Literacies project. He thought it up and has led the rest of us to bring it into being. Finally, thanks to all the students over the past few years who have engaged with earlier versions of the project.
OK – So, More Specifically …
The internet is big, crazy, and fast. It’s not just a series of sites anymore. It’s a series of dynamic relationships [Mat Spiel] How do we keep up with it? We use RSS. RSS encourages a different form of publishing – and different relations between people who publish.
The Network Literacies Project is about your UNSW identity (or perhaps, more broadly, you’re learning, teaching, and researching identity). By this we mean—as opposed to your private identity. Most people now use these, or similar technologies, in their private lives and their more general social lives. That’s great, but that’s not what this is about. So:
We think it is probably beneficial for you to keep your private worlds separate from your UNSW identity. This will usually be as simple as using a different username at UNSW.
It’s usually going to be a good idea to keep the same username across the tools and sites involved. This is so that, for example, if others find your blog posts interesting, they can easily find you on the Flickr image sharing site and look at the images you’ve been making. Or they know where to look for feeds for all your networks.
Things are going to be pretty engaging and often fairly free via the Network Literacies Project. However:
Keep it legal – respect copyright, for example.
Respect others (keep it polite .. no abuse – if things are heating up for you take walk, check out the local park, etc.)
So what is the Net Lit Project?
Where do you begin?
What do you have to do first?
There are a few steps you have to take but these are pretty simple. If you’ve done all this before that’s great. If not, you should find it pretty easy. In either case, however, you need to do the following things now.