A week before, I was asked about what I expected to achieve, to learn, in this current course -EDTEC 467. To be honest, I didn’t know what to answer. I was just wandering how it would be, I mean the organization of the course, the work I would have to carry out… Now I think that have an answer, although I guess that I would have to wait for the following weeks to see if this is the final answer.

Content

Internet is widely recognized as the largest information repository, where documentation about almost anything can be found. This became to be so due to a number of factors. Internet quickly began to be the best way to share information, and a new concept arose: the information superhighways.

Later arrived the broadband, and technology allowed media content, with audio or video streaming and podcast.

More than content

But Internet is not only a repository. Actually, it is much more than that. As J. S. Brown says in “Learning, Working & Playing in the Digital Age“, Internet is not only a broadcast media, “but also way a two-way reciprocity like in mid-cast“. That’s the clue! Let us see why.

Taking ideas from other article (Minds on Fire, by J. S. Brown and R. P. Adler), traditional learning was learning about. This learning happened both individually or in a group of students. However, work was mainly individualized, and for the group case, it usually adopted a hierarchical topology with an one-way broadcast communication (from teacher to students). Of course, students also talk, but there is a principal information source and it mainly flows in one direction.

Three important changes

This enhanced conception of the web -Web 2.0- adds to content sharing, two-way communication. This leads learning to change its traditional model in several points:

  • Work can mainly be collaborative instead of individualized, as far as Web 2.0 tools make it possible.
    For instance, Google Docs compare to the traditional text editor. The former allow even simultaneous edition of the same document across the Internet.
    This is an example related to text edition. From a wider perspective, any web application in the Cloud would be a good example whatever it be about (music, accounts, programming…)
  • The group topology changes from a hierarchical organization to a dynamic network, like neuronal interconnections.
    As it happens in a network, not all nodes are equal. In this sense, there is a very interesting concept in Minds on Fire: the legitimate peripheral participation. This is an idea taken from historical apprenticeship programs, where an apprentice carry out simple tasks under a qualified supervision. As the student learns, complexity grows and supervision decreases, up to have learned to learn.
    Here, I found interesting to point out that every student has something that only her or him can bring to others.
  • Teacher’s role changes also. Most probably, she or he continues being the most important node in the new network, but as far as supervision decreases, thus it happens with her/his importance. The teacher acts as a model or reference for the apprentices. This means that she or he not only teaches about, not only explains, not only gives information… More crucial than that, the teacher teaches how to be part of this network.
    Furthermore, in this group, the teacher becomes an student, and students become teachers. As is said in Minds on Fire, “one of the best ways to learn something is, after all, to teach it to others”. A good teacher would learn reading his/her students works, their answers, with the way they understand and even with their questions. All these is the best material a teacher has to improve his/her work.
    Brown and Adler express this in an accurate way: “Mastering a field of knowledge involves not only “learning about” the subject matter but also “learning to be” a full participant in the field”. Thus, “the emphasis is on building a community of students and scholars as much as on providing access to educational content”.
    This is the key of success in Learning 2.0: to build and manage a learning community like that. As examples of these successful learning communities let us mention Open Software, developed on the basis of distributed programming; and Wikipedia, that has been compared with the Encyclopedia, paradigm of the Illustration in the XVIII century.

 

Some questions arises in the K12-education context. As Brown points out, this new learning approach is “characterized by a demand-pull rather than the traditional supply-push mode of building up an inventory of knowledge in students’ heads”. Student’s interest is the engine that moves to learning. Is always a student interested and pulling for learning? In problematic situation, what others tools or ways do we have for moving students’ interest? I would like to discuss about this slowly…

Anyway, I have an answer to the first question: I would like to know how to build and manage a learning community. At the moment, I think that I am beginning to participate in one. And I find it exciting!

Learning 2.0 – Community Edition
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10 thoughts on “Learning 2.0 – Community Edition

  • September 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm
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    I think you touched on something very important in this blog entry! As much as we hope that engaging lessons will draw a student into learning or catering to their interests may do the same, students don’t always operate on this intrinsic level of motivation.

    Just last week I was talking to a student staff member of mine about using Diigo. I was pretty excited as this is a tool I had never heard of before, and I could only imagine what it would have been like to have Diigo as a tool in my undergraduate career. After I explained the pure awesomeness of Diigo, she pointed out that her technological find of the summer was discovering that you can use the “Ctrl +F” function in many of the new electronic versions of textbooks. Essentially, she was talking about skipping through the reading to find the key words and phrases needed to answer questions, bypassing much of the potential knowledge-gaining along the way. I was heartbroken!

    Technology can be a great tool, but it isn’t necessarily going to make students /want/ to learn. I’m afraid educators will still have to rely on the old extrinsic motivators of grades and rewards to push them to learn.

    I think you’re right about the teacher’s role shifting and becoming a learner in the community as much as she or he is a teacher, but I also think that the role shifts from informing students to transforming them. The teacher’s role may no longer be to predominantly share stores of information, but there is a lot of careful design behind creating transformational opportunities for the students. While there is now this aspect of the teacher learning from the students which may in some way seem to minimize her supervisory role, I believe that there is a great deal of forethought and structure in designing an educational experience (lesson, activity, etc) that allows for these participatory learning experiences to take place.

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    • September 16, 2013 at 8:09 am
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      Please, don’t think bad of me, but I could not help laughing a bit while reading the discovery of “Ctrl+F”. What a workload not using it!
      As I have told you in another comment, I like a lot your idea about the transforming role of education and of the teacher. I dare say that the more important an education is, the more transforming it results.

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  • September 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm
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    I have been using Google Docs through curriculum writing with fellow teachers, and it amazes me how everyone can play a role in the final project. I find it to be really exciting and am thinking on sharing my knowledge with my peers. I think we need to get others on board slowly and feel Google Docs are a great start. How do you use Google Docs?

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    • September 16, 2013 at 8:19 am
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      We have used it more or less for the same, with other teachers: curriculum writing, meetings minutes, and things like that. Actually I haven’t used it in classroom. There is another tool which I have used with students and that can have the same function: wikis. It was just for elaborating notes in classroom, putting things in common, using a projector, and selecting the examples and the way to explain things. Later they can consult these notes at home.

      Reply
  • September 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm
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    I’m glad that you are energized by the idea of the learning communities! While that is part of the effort for this course, I think it’s also part of a broader contemporary movement in thinking about learning and education that is infusing at least the literature in North American educational research. I too laughed a bit when I read the Ctrl F scenario — but it brings up a good question, which is what can we as educators do to get the students into demand mode? What is our role in transforming students in wanting to learn and wanting to have answers?

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  • September 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm
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    You raise a great point on the motivation of students to pull for information. Often times intrinsic motivation for learning for learning is not present to the level that teachers want. Behaviorism offers suggestions for reinforcement that may have an impact on the student’s motivation to pull for learning. I have found myself struggling with how much I wanted to employ these techniques in my classroom. Some teachers in my school would reward students with candy or other treats. I did not agree with techniques like these, but I did notice that they had an impact on students ability to focus or complete assignments.

    Web 2.0 tools seems to offer arenas for positive reinforcement. An assignment such as publishing a video or wiki gives feedback via comments or likes that will be a motivation to some students. They may excel when they can brag about how many “likes” their project has online. Building in ways for positive reinforcement may push students to work a little harder and pull for knowledge.

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    • September 16, 2013 at 7:27 pm
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      I love the point that web 2.0 technologies provide a way for students to get positive reinforcement for their work. To a similar note, I think that gamification or game-based learning is a similar way we see teacher’s trying to motivate their students. This is an area I’m quite interested in, actually. One quick online example can be found using http://www.codeacademy.com where they use points and badges that can be shared through social media as a way to keep learners interested.

      Reply
      • September 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm
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        Thanks for the link for Code Academy. I love the idea of establishing points and badges.

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  • September 18, 2013 at 4:44 am
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    Sorry for leaving the blog! Tuesday is a work-full day for me and I can hardly read or write any post. And yesterday I began this new scholar year classes. Enjoyable and a bit exhausting at the same time…
    In regard with the question about encouraging students and make them to enter into demand mode… Well! It’s a great question! I’m going to try to answer given what I know, and what I know is a single-sex boys school in a depressed area of the city.
    To detail a bit more the picture, in the south of Spain, early scholar leaving reaches 32.5%, and have fallen down from the 38.5% (taken from a newspaper http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2013/01/12/andalucia/1357993100.html) Authorities doesn’t tell, but several association claim that this index is much worse with boys, reaching up to 50%.
    Coming back to the question, I think that the teacher is the key. As Devon expresses in other post: “positive relationships with and/or admiration of the educator tends to lead students to want to succeed and to learn from them”
    So a teacher has a principal target, which is to connect with his/her students. I dare say that the best results in a student I have ever seen have been when the student realized that the teacher was betting on him, and this student had been diagnosed with the world-wide-famous ADHD.
    And here is were technology appear: Something necessary for connecting with students is speaking their language, and then make learning appealing, gripping. Technology is one of the means that I have, and more and more I cannot put it aside.
    What is more, there is another argument said before: technology makes us work in a way that help us to develop skills needed in the current century.
    Yesterday I spoke to the class asking them if it would not be a good idea to develop their own documentation about the software they are going to learn this term. They agreed. Actually, I had decided to do that -hope they don’t read this. I was just looking for their implication. I gave them the possibility of working individually or in groups… Happy end: they chose to work in groups. Here, technology is what give me the chance to do this. In particular, we are going to use a wiki in group mode in a Moodle platform.

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