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Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age
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Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age


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Paper presented at the ICE3 conference, Loch Lomond, Scotland, 23 March 2007. For more information (including the full paper), see …

Paper presented at the ICE3 conference, Loch Lomond, Scotland, 23 March 2007. For more information (including the full paper), see

If produsage is an increasingly significant element of intellectual, economic, legal and political processes within society, then educational institutions must pay more attention to developing produser capabilities in their graduates – focussing on learners’ collaborative, creative, critical, and communicative capabilities (or C4C, for short). Indeed, they must lead by example and base more of their teaching and learning frameworks on produsage models. Social constructivist approaches to education already call for a greater role for learners in the educational process, but even pedagogies based on this framework often still retain a strong role for the teacher, and standard tertiary education practices continue to allow for innovation only within the confines of otherwise persistent and immutable institutional structures.

Beyond this, however, there is a potential for more wide-ranging changes which reposition learners as co-produsers not only of knowledge, but also of course and institutional structures. Applying a systematic understanding of current cyberspace trends towards produsage in Web2.0 environments to tertiary teaching practice in the ‘real world’, this paper outlines potential avenues for such pedagogical approaches, and investigates the extent to which they address the needs of what describes as ‘Generation C’.

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  • 1. Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age Dr Axel Bruns Media & Communication Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia –
  • 2. Key Questions
    • How does education:
      • prepare graduates to become expert users of the information available from user-led content creation environments?
      • prepare graduates to be expert participants in user-led content creation environments?
  • 3. Produsage
      • open source software development
      • online publishing
        • blogs
        • open news – e.g. Slashdot , Indymedia , OhmyNews
      • knowledge management
        • wikis – e.g. Wikipedia
        • social bookmarking – e.g. , digg
        • geotagging – e.g. Google Earth , Frappr
      • multi-user gaming
        • e.g. The Sims , Everquest , Second Life , Spore
      • media sharing and creative practice
        • e.g. Flickr , ccMixter , YouTube , Jumpcut ,
      • reviews and viral marketing
        • e.g. Epinions , IgoUgo
      • automatic aggregation
        • Google , Amazon , Technorati
    – User-led content creation is emerging in various domains:
  • 4. Produsage
    • Beyond production:
      • ‘ anyone can edit’ – users become producers of content
      • content is no longer a distinct product – it is a temporary artefact of an ongoing process, and is continuously evolving
      • usage and production are increasingly, inextricably intertwined
      • strict distinctions between producers, distributors, and consumers no longer apply
      • a new “ Generation C ” of content produsers?
    • this is produsage
  • 5. Common Characteristics
    • Shared across these environments:
      • Community-Based – the community as a whole, if sufficiently large and varied, can contribute more than a closed team of producers, however qualified
      • Fluid Roles – produsers participate as is appropriate to their personal skills, interests, and knowledges; this changes as the produsage project proceeds
      • Unfinished Artefacts – content artefacts in produsage projects are continually under development, and therefore always unfinished; their development follows evolutionary, iterative, palimpsestic paths
      • Common Property, Individual Merit – contributors permit (non-commercial) community use and adaptation of their intellectual property, and are rewarded by the status capital gained through this process
  • 6. Implications
    • Challenges to traditional paradigms:
      • new business models, new industry sectors
      • new sources of information, new repositories of knowledge
      • new forms, new understanding of content
      • new forms of collaborative work (scientific, intellectual, artistic)
      • new approaches to intellectual property
      • new measures of personal standing and success
    • Or rediscovery of even older models:
      • open academic collaboration and sharing of knowledge
      • reputation and social status as non-monetary currency
      • commons-based intellectual property models
  • 7. Graduates and/as Generation C?
    • Generation C ( ):
      • Content, Creativity, Casual Collapse, Control, Celebrity – Cash
    • Graduates need to be able to
      • understand this environment, and
      • be able to be part of it (if they so choose)
    • Examples:
      • software engineers: work as open source developers
      • journalists: collaborate with citizen journalism produsers
      • knowledge workers: operate effectively in wikified environments
      • artists: collaborate widely but protect reputation and IP
  • 8. The C4C
    • Four crucial graduate capacities:
      • Creative: engage in collaborative creative produsage work (and understand reasons for wanting to do so) – economic, social, individual
      • Collaborative: evaluate when, where, and with whom to collaborate (and when not to do so), and understand potential positive and negative consequences – especially for intellectual property and personal reputation
  • 9. The C4C
    • Four crucial graduate capacities:
      • Critical: evaluate quality of content and skills of collaborators, assess own capabilities, identify best sites of / venues for produsage – and be able to express and share such critique constructively
      • Communicative: understand the communicative models of produsage environments, and work effectively within them – also participate successfully in communication about the shared collaborative effort: metacollaboration
  • 10. Implementing the C4C
    • The C4C framework is a mission statement:
      • outlines the core capacities
      • describes the underlying motivations for pursuing them
      • situates this in an overall framework of produsage
    • How do we implement this framework in everyday learning and teaching practice?
      • Model produsage environments (safe sandbox)
      • Transition education itself from production to produsage – learners as co-creators of education
      • Engage with (educational) produsage communities outside of the academy – accommodate transient learners, partner with Wikiversity and other emerging projects?
  • 11.
    • Here’s where we are …
    • (Todd Richmond, in Rheingold, 2006 )
    • … but where are we going next?
    The Future?