This morning I was reflecting upon all the different kinds of work that connecting involves. I wondered if student engagement, like Latour regards networks, could be a reflection of the quality of all that connecting work. The Web 2.0 tools, that are being relied on to generate increased student involvement, could be under-performing the students expectations as a support system for all that connecting work. If that pattern is occurring, we could expect the tools of engagement to result in increased disengagement.
Here's what I'm thinking is the full spectrum of "connection work" that tools for engagement ought to support:
- Seeing connections: Recognizing "traces" of interrelationships is far from easy. Latour recommends eliminating distinctions like global/local, context/content and macro/micro to detect subtle connections.
- Making new connections: Getting help, support, or follow through is difficult when we're facing resistance or apathy. This work calls for political maneuvering and negotiation skills.
- Experiencing connections: Connections can be very enjoyable, gratifying and fascination when something we've put out there goes beyond our launch, getting translated, transformed and combined with others.
- Articulating connections: Connections get stronger by exploring both ends, conversing back and forth, comparing viewpoints, and exploring tough questions together. The value of the other end of the connection becomes more obvious and refined.
- Using existing connections: Well established connections allow for cooperation, collaborations, P2P projects, and crowdsourcing to get things done faster, more resourcefully and even more creatively.
- Blocking connections: When we set up boundaries, filters or black boxes, we keep out others from seeing what to connect to or from making connections. Our form of isolation may be done to protect property rights, avoid piracy, control a brand/reputation or many other motives.
- Abandoning connections: Connections are usually high maintenance if they prove to be useful. Cutting down on the maintenance workload results in the loss of neglected connections.