Microcultures, Local Communities, and Virtual Networks

Microcultures, Local Communities, and Virtual Networks

José Luis Lalueza, Isabel Crespo, Marc Bria
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-970-0.ch009
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Through a case study, we will exemplify how ICT can be used in a collaborative way to constitute the foundations of intercultural projects in local and global communities. First, we present a local learning community based on the Fifth Dimension model where, adopting a collaborative model, each of its activities departed from the traditional teaching-learning form based on transmission. Collaboration mediated by ICT in local computer-supported learning communities, understood to be borderer zones that are not the exclusive property of any one specific cultural group, has the potential to generate genuine neo-cultures in which participants can share meanings and appropriate artefacts. Second, the same approach is adopted to analyse the dialogue established between educational researchers and technologists. Setting out with different goals, both groups engaged in a borderer activity involving the development of educational artefacts that could be accessed via the Internet. Common participation in those activities gave rise to a set of shared beliefs, knowledge, behaviours and customs, i.e. a network of meanings that crystallised into a common microculture.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Microculture: Here in the sense of ideoculture, i.e. a system of knowledge, beliefs, behaviours and customs shared by the members of an interacting group to which the members can refer and which serves as the foundations for new interactions. Members recognise that they share experiences and that these can be alluded to with the expectation that they will be understood by the other members, thus using them to construct a reality for the participants.

Content Management System (CMS): When organizations realized that a webmaster could be a “bottleneck” for their presence in the net, new applications were developed thought to make easier to publish digital creations (texts, images, video, audio, documents...) in web pages. Those systems, that define user’s roles, assist during the publication workflows, and introduce a lot of automatisms to administrate content, allow authors to publish their content directly without the need of any intermediary.

Collaborative Learning: Methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task in which each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. Groups of students work together in searching for understanding, meaning or solutions or in creating an artefact of their learning, such as a product.

Borderer activity: Spaces where exchange and dialogue is possible between cultures. In such activities, each participant arrives with his or her particular goals and motives, but different actors and institutions can negotiate and try to construct common goals.

Copyleft: The Free Software Fundation and some other associations, created this concept to label a set of licenses that defend different kinds of freedom in cultural creations. Those licenses are the legal base that allows the construction of a common repository of knowledge free to reach and adapt by everybody interested in. Wikipedia (2007) says: “Copyleft is a form of licensing and may be used to modify copyrights for works such as computer software, documents, music, and art. In general, copyright law allows an author to prohibit others from reproducing, adapting, or distributing copies of the author’s work. In contrast, an author may, through a copyleft licensing scheme, give every person who receives a copy of a work permission to reproduce, adapt or distribute the work as long as any resulting copies or adaptations are also bound by the same copyleft licensing scheme.”

Inter-subjectivity: Shared meanings constructed by people in their interactions with each other and used as an everyday resource to interpret the meaning of elements of social and cultural life. Inter-subjectivity allows people to share a definition of the situation, and is the basis for a meaningful collaboration.

Wiki: A classical wiki is a subtype of CMS without any publication workflow (creations are directly published, without any revision), without any role (every user of the system get the same rights) and with a strong version system (that guarantee that any data will be lost). Those kind of systems that allow a kind of collaboration where every user is equal to others (so modifications could be done in a fast and easy way), become popular with “wikipedia” that is also a good example of a wiki.y

Artefacts: Tools and symbols that, mediating the actions between subject and object, transform both. An artefact is an aspect of the material world that has changed during the history of their incorporation into human action aimed at targets. They are the basic constituent of a culture, and are the constituents of its “possible” worlds and realities.

Activity: Psychological analysis unit in the frame of the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory . It is an indivisible set of situated practices where we could identify subject actions oriented to goals and mediated by artefacts. All activities are articulated in a cultural framework of meanings. The perspectives introduce rules, community bonds and division of labour as elements that must also be identified in activity analysis. Activity theory helps explain how social artefacts and social organization mediate social action.

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