network literacies

Distributed governance was part of the conversation at RESET18 in Helsinki last month, where I discussed networks, communities of practice, knowledge-sharing, and sense-making, in the context of the Finnish civil service. I concluded that a network society needs networked models for organizing and for learning. Governments and their departments need to transition to the network form. Each network form will be different, so there are few best practices to follow. New practices have to emerge from those testing the new methods.

New practices, and literacies, are needed to maintain our democracies and to help each citizen thrive in this newly connected world. Frameworks like personal knowledge mastery provide the key concepts and vocabulary to become network literate.

“The complexity of the media landscape today places high demands on our own digital and media literacies and the role of adult education, and indeed the entire education sector, is crucial if we are going to raise awareness of both the dangers and the opportunities of the digital world that is forming around us.

However, the task of enabling citizens to make sense of and navigate today’s ever-changing media landscape (i.e. media and information literacy) depends on a major coordinated investment in training and research involving many sectors of society. For this to happen we need coordination and incentives from governmental level, something that may be difficult in countries.” —Alistair Creelman

While in Helsinki I was interviewed on a number of questions that had been provided by civil servants, to inform part of a public sector training program. These interviews were put together as a five-part video and are available free online at eLearning Finland [eOppiva].

1. Civil servants using networks
2. Seek > Sense > Share model
3. Differences in working and learning in networks
4. Efficient networking
5. Civil servants in external networks

Several graphics are included in the presentation and I have put these together as a PDF — PKM for Civil Servants.

Network era fluency could be described as individuals and communities understanding and being part of global networks that influence various aspects of our lives. For individuals, the core skill is critical thinking, or questioning all assumptions, including one’s own. People can learn though their various communities and develop social literacy. Information literacy is improved by connecting to a diversity of networks. But control of networks by any single source destroys the ability for people and communities to develop real network era fluency, which is not good for society in the long run and may kill innovation and our collective ability to adapt.

Mass network era fluency can ensure that networks remain open, transparent, and diverse — therefore reflecting many communities. This kind of fluency, by the majority of people, is necessary to deal with the many complex issues facing humanity. We cannot deal with complex issues and  networked forces unless we can knowledgeably talk about them. This requires fluency.

This video is one more step in developing those urgently needed digital and media literacies. Contact me if you are interested in establishing network sense-making programs in your country or region. The time for fluency is now.

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