Fig.1 Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray
At what point does the protagonist in the film ‘Groundhog Day’ – TV weatherman Phil Connors played by Bill Murray – unite the Punxsutawney community? How does he do it? And what does this tell you about communities of practice? (Wenger 1998)
Fig. 2. Chick Peas – a metaphor for the potential congealing effect of ‘reificaiton’
Issues related to creating accessible e-learning
Pour some dry chickpeas into a tall container such as a measuring jug add water and leave to soak overnight. The result is that the chickpeas swell so tightly together that they are immovable unless you prize them out with a knife – sometimes the communities of practice are embedded and immovable and the only answer could be a bulldozer – literally to tear down the buildings and start again.
‘Congealing experiences into thingness’. Seale (2006:179) or derived from Wenger (1998)
This is what happens when ‘reification causes inertia’ Wenger in Seale (2006:189).
‘Reification’ is the treatment of something abstract as a material or concrete thing. Britannica, 2012.
To ‘reify’ it to thingify’. Chandler (2000) , ‘it’s a linguistic categorization, its the conceptualization of spheres of influence, such as ‘social’,’educational’ or ‘technological’.’ (ibid)
‘Reification creates points of focus around which the negotiation of meaning becomes organized’. Seale (2006)
It has taken over a century for a car to be tested that can take a blind person from a to b – the huge data processing requirements used to scan the road ahead could surely be harnessed to ‘scan the road ahead’ to make learning materials that have already been digitised more accessible.
Participating and reification – by doing you give abstract concepts form.
1) Institutional and individual factors need to be considered simultaneously.
2) Inclusivity (and equity), rather than disability and impairments, should be the perspective i.e. the fix is with society rather than the individual.
3) Evidence based.
4) Multifaceted approach.
5) Cultural and systemic change at both policy and practice levels.
6) Social mobility and lifelong learning were ambitions of Peter Mandelson (2009).
7) Nothing should be put or left in isolation – workshops with children from the British Dyslexia Association included self-esteem, literacy, numeracy, study skills and best use of technology.
8) Encouraging diversity, equity of access and student access.
9) Methods should be adapted to suit the circumstances under which they are being applied.
10) Technical and non-technical people need to work together to tackle the problems.
11) A shared repertoire of community practices …
12) Design for participation not use …. so you let the late arrivals to the party in even if they don’t drink or smoke (how would you integrated mermaids?)
13) Brokering by those who have multiple memberships of groups – though the greater the number of groups to which they belong the more likely this is all to be tangential.
14) Might I read constellation and even think collegiate?
15) If we think of a solar system rather than a constellation what if most are lifeless and inaccessible?
16) Brokers with legitimacy may cross the boundaries between communities of practice. Wenger (1998)
17) Boundary practices Seale (2003)
Fig. 3. John Niell, CBE, CEO and Group Chairman of UGC
Increasingly I find that corporate and institutional examples of where a huge change has occured are the product of the extraordinary vision and leadership of one person, who advocates putting the individual at the centre of things. Paying lip service to this isn’t enough, John Neil CBE, CEO and now Chairman of the Unipart Group of Companies (UGC) called it ‘The Unipart Way’.
Britannica (2012) Definition of reification. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/496484/reification)
Chandler, D (2000) Definition of Reify. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tdet05.html)
Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn2.open.ac.uk/ mod/ subpage/ view.php?id=153062 (last accessed 23 Dec 2012).
Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.