Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Internet is a Fine Place for Women

"The electronic utopia will not be coming to a website near you," warns the author of this short article, Chuck Huff. This "electronic utopia" he speaks of is the idea (not an actual place or thing) that the Internet offers users a discrimination-free environment. He begins by describing the positive woman-to-woman interaction that is increasingly taking place in online communities. However, he admits that online discussion forums are dominated by males, who 'maliciously sexually harass' women who try to join in on the 'fun' (as compared to the 'dry and slightly boring corporate sites' that show no such discrimination). There are, as he mentions, though many different women and many different webs, so on the question of the webs hospitality, or lack thereof, to women, he says "the answer will depend on the particularities." I found it striking that he has heard from some women only positive feedback of the web; I wonder if these women have grown so accustomed to sexual harassment that is simply invisible to them when it comes to the web. I can undoubtedly admit that I would give a plethora of positive feedback if asked about my experiences with the Internet, but would be denying the truth if I said I had never experienced the harassment that Huff claims makes the Internet 'inhospitable' to women. I disagree on some planes with this idea though. While I don't condone, or like, advances made by men, they nonetheless are a part of life, cyber or otherwise, so to say that life is inhospitable to women as an absolute is a bit of a stretch.

Huff, Chuck. "The Internet in a Fine Place for Women." A Virtual Commonplace. Dec. 2007. Computers and Society. 5 Apr. 2007 - r3.html-.

"Gender Gap in Cyberspace"

In her short article, "Gender Gap in Cyberspace," originally published in Newsweek in 1994, Deborah Tannen explains "how [she] managed to be a [computer] pioneer without becoming an expert." She describes the purchase of her first computer, aided by a co-worker, in 1980, and the why and how she used, and has used computers since then. Juxtaposing her use to his (her co-worker, Ralph) she hammered out gender differences, that, of course, she has drawn with many shades of grey. She noticed within her own use of computers she left technical know-how to her male counterparts, like Ralph, enjoying for herself the communicative and usability aspects, like emails and word processing. Through her relationship with Ralph, she found that he, and other male users, devoted much of their free time to being tech-savvy, mostly by means of self education. Interesting, as well, was the ability of men to open up more in emails as compared to face-to-face situations. I think that Tannen's observations and conclusions are very up to par, however, I also think it is important that she avoids absolutes, which, especially with gender as the only variable, are hard to claim.

Tannen, Deborah. "Gender Gap in Cyberspace." A Virtual Commonplace. 16 May 1994. Newsweek. 5 Apr. 2007 -

CSCL: Computer Stpported Collaborative Learning

When I started doing preliminary research for my research paper, I came across a website devoted to CSCL. This concept seemed to be exactly what I was looking to write my paper on. The site contains information not only on technology in education, but also the theories of learning that are acted out through technological education. Naturally, from there, I looked for text on this subject and was pleased to find two books, a series actually, on the very subject. Each are a compilation of essays from a wide spectrum of professionals. In the first book, published in 1996, contains one article of particular interest to me. It is by the editor of the book, Timothy Koschmann, and offers a general introduction to instructional technologies (IT). It begins by defining paradigms, according to psychologist Thomas Khun, then outlines the history of the paradigmatic shift that has taken place within IT. Next Koschmann discusses CSCL as "an emerging paradigm in instructional technology." Within this section he describes learning theories that technological education functions within. By coupling this information with that from "Toys, Tools, and Teachers" about why and how games or 'toys' can help us learn, I will form a concept for my paper. The second book "CSCL 2: carrying forward the conversation," seems to be a more valuable source for my paper. It is broken down into three sections; the first of which contains four case studies, each with commentary and responses in the form of full essays by separate authors. This same pattern (of commentary and responses) carries on through the next two sections as well. The second section takes a look at learning in collaborative settings, and the third at technologies for collaboration and learning. I especially like this approach, because it gives the reader a basis for analysis. These two books, and the concept of CSCL, has prompted me to take a look at learning theories that involve collaboration, and important aspect of learning and technologies.

"Some would argue that what learners do in computer-supported instructional settings is not collaborative; further, as the field develops, the technology used to support collaboration may not always involve computers, at least not in the ways they have been used in the past. Thus CSCL is used as a designation in its own right to leave open to interpretation precisely what the ambiguous words stand for."

Timothy, Koschmann, ed. CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.

Timothy, Koschmann, Hall Rogers, and Naomi Miyake, eds. CSCL 2: Carrying Forward the Conversation. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.