George’s presentation this week is very timely, as I have been trying to sort out in my own mind the role of identity in a network. I have trawled the Moodle forums for references to identity and there has only been limited discussion of this. There has been some discussion of how you can create your identity or multiple identities online – see Pat Parslow’s post . But I don’t think this is in question. I haven’t yet looked through the blogs. I don’t think I know a quick and easy way to do this.
How do you establish your identity in an online network? Etienne Wenger (Sept 28th 2008, forum post) in discussing identity, learning and meaningfulness writes:
“The question of identity is central to learning both because learning changes our ability to participate in the world, and therefore our identity. And conversely a central principle to social learning theory is that knowledge has to be “lived” in a space of meaningfulness by the person, and therefore knowledge cannot be separated in practice from the identity that can live this knowledge as an experience of engaging in the world and making meaning.
George has said in his presentation that the ‘need for individual recognition’ cannot be ignored and that the basis of collective intelligence is a recognition of the self. George also has a slide where he says that the ‘self’ (a word which he sometimes appears to be using interchangeably with ‘identity’) is shaped and expressed by socialisation, and says elsewhere in his presentation that people seek to retain their identity in network and group situations.
So is identity fixed, i.e. something we can bring to the network or group, or is it always changing, being shaped by the group or network and in turn shaping the group or network? The latter makes more sense to me, i.e. that it is not fixed and if so it is not something that can be retained.
It seems to me that a lot of what we are observing in this course is people trying to establish an identity. Some appear to be finding this easier than others. Would it be fair to say that the better connected you are the easier it is to establish an identity? Would it also be fair to say that the group offers more opportunities for this than the network and that the group is instrumental is assisting people to find their identity?
This should be an interesting week.