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The ethical and practical implications of systems architecture on identity in networked learning: A constructionist perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Interactive Learning Environments
Issue number3
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)203-215
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/03/12
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Through relational dialogue, learners shape their identities by sharing informa-
tion about the world and how they see themselves in it. As learners interact, they
receive feedback from both the environment and other learners which, in turn,
helps them assess and adjust their self-presentations. Although learners retain
choice and personal agency, even the most neutral-seeming technological
environment may encourage some ways of interacting whilst discouraging others.
Taking a constructionist perspective, the authors first compare peer-to-peer
interaction in online and face-to-face environments. Online self-presentation is
adjusted using identity management tools. These tools may provide efficient ways
to locate and interact with other learners as well as protection mechanisms for
personal information. In particular, the authors discuss the effects of anonymity
and pseudonymity on trust and social capital. To illustrate these concepts, the
authors discuss two social networking systems, iHelp and The Landing, and how
their underlying architectures may affect discourse and identity management.
Throughout, there remains a tension between the individual self versus the self as
part of a social group. The authors recommend careful consideration of the effects
of systems architecture on both the individual and the community – thereby
balancing the needs of the individual with her learning communities. From an
ethical standpoint, only then can both individual and community flourish online.