#Gloco14 reviewed


This week we’ll take a breather from the fast paced Gloco program and have a look back at the experience you’ve been through and where it could lead you to.

There’s no doubt that this has been a steep learning curve, with many twists and turns. Could it be any other way in this media environment? We don’t think so, but appreciate that it is unlike any other course you’ve been through, and that some of you feel overwhelmed by the level of activity involved.

Gloco is based on an experiential learning model. That is, as you make media and communication in the social and public space, and reflect on what you are discovering, you learn how to make the most out of the experience. Our Dean, Martyn Hook has a good take on how reflective practice is built through these learning experiences:

“You can talk and talk and talk and try to be academic, but the real value in the reflective practice process is just doing what it is you do and thinking about what it is you do and how it is you do it. It’s not about trying to transform the way that you do things; it’s about trying to transform the way you think about what it is you do. And through that thought process, the work becomes transformative anyway.”
Hook, M., The Pink Book. By Practice, By Invitation, Design Practice Research in Architecture and Design at RMIT, 1986–2011, Schaik and Johnson, onepointzerosixone 2001

We started by throwing you in the deep end of social media – G+ #Gloco14 community as our studio, with a little bit of Twitter on the side, and some exploration of the emergent media platforms. As a way to work through this immersion you generated your own online and professional profile. It quickly became aware to us all that this was going to be a fluid ride – liquid identities, slippery platforms and new open-ended communication channels.

Were we tourists who could return home after this experience, or vagabonds condemned to moving around these spaces? The jury is still out for most of us. But move around we did. Scrolling back through the community space, thinking about the media mapping exercise – through to the ‘edge media’ that John Postil talked about –, and re-thinking our approach to media and communication, are traces of where we the started. Many of you have since used this experience as a jumping-off point to re-consider your own practice and career.

It also would have become obvious that working in the public is very different to working behind classroom doors. We now have to think about how others perceive us, what we can do to direct the way people get to know us in this space, and how we can be authentic without losing our sense of privacy. This signals one of the big issues of contemporary life as a communication practitioner. We are no longer anonymous, residing in the assessment submission, media credits or by-lines; we are out there for all to see (if they’re interested).

Then another world opened up – the network and where we situate ourselves within it. Not only was it a matter of joining in and developing your own network literacies (bridging links and structural holes, to name a few of the concepts Ekaterina outlined), but we also asked you to make your own – to lead a network, give it shape and purpose and to activate it.

With the CKN came the Hangouts. If you look at the promotional video about hangouts you would think they were a tame platform compared to the fast and furious Twitter. But as we have seen, they take a lot of taming to get working effectively.


Why is it important to create a network? And what does it have to do with doing a Masters in Media and Communication?

While the attention in a course like this tends to be on the technology that we use to communicate, there is a a more fundamental purpose in this course, namely coming to understand the shifts in practice. Where once we operated in what Hagel and Seely-Brown call the ‘push’ economy of mass media, marketing and retail, we are now moving to the ‘pull’ economy, where individuals can pull information, products and services to themselves. In other words, that landscape has changed, and as practitioners in the field we need to be able to observe the changes and to imagine new ways of doing things.

One of the changes is that communication now circulates through the type of networks we’ve been working on. These CKNs are narrow-cast channels, built around ideas or issues. They are small publics, which form and disband. And they work on Hagel and Seely-Brown’s concept of ‘scalable learning’. Scalable learning has a simple precept: that there is so much information that we cannot know it all, but we can get to know people who know certain things. As individuals we need to work out how to pull this information to ourselves and how access it in a way we can understand. As communication practitioners we also need to know how to deliver it. If we think of a CKN as a media channel, then we also need to know how they work and how to circulate information through them.

Of course we could study this by using the well-developed network theories, but we have taken a different route – learning through experience. This gives us the opportunity to notice the nuances within a network, not just its mechanics. By adding critical reflection, we can see how these literacies can become part of our practice. In effect we become ‘sense-makers’ who bring clarity to otherwise overwhelming situations and model how to navigate these spaces. As Dennis Sanchez pointed to in the link Ekaterina posted yesterday, network literacies are becoming essential to contemporary practitioners.

A key aspect of scalable learning is that knowledge is co-created. With this comes the idea of offering critique as part of the transaction. We include ourselves in this. Gloco14 is an active CKN of people learning how to make sense of things that haven’t existed in this form before. Even during the period of this course we have seen new platforms and practices emerge. Take Ello for example. It came to the surface in the last few weeks and now has a massive subscription surge going on. So we welcome your knowledge of what is occurring and critique of the course and the co-creative knowledge network we know affectionately as #gloco.