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diigo

Posted to Diigo 09/19/2010

  • Knowledge in complex settings is a process of negotiation…an interplay of entities…a dance. And being knowledgeable in these settings requires an awareness of process and flow, not of being in possession of “knowledge”
  • What has happened in journalism will also happen in education: breakdown of a single controlled narrative, increased role of amateurs, challenges to the existing business model, etc
  • How should teaching and learning be structured in a networked world?
  • Should Africa (or any region of the world) duplicate the educational system of Europe or North America? Should Africa adopt the curriculum of these regions? How should teaching and learning be delivered? How many schools should be built? What is the cost of building the physical support structures for learning and knowledge for a region like Africa? Is there a better way? What are the costs of building a technological infrastructure – internet connectivity and computers – in comparison to building schools and purchasing textbooks? (it’s not an either or question – effective learning with technology from my experience, involves a blend of online and face-to-face).
  • We need to throw out most or our assumptions of learning systems, content, learning design and delivery in order to build the future of Africa’s learning and knowledge infrastructure
  • Ingenuity and creativity from within Africa will address this challenge – it’s not something that development agencies should “do for Africans”
  • The learning process is less uncertain. How will the next generation of Africans be educated? What is the learning model that will fulfill this urgent, foundational, task?
  • Right now, educational content flows into Africa which creates an external cultural injection. African educators have an opportunity to create a content/cultural outflow from Africa by increasing collaboration with each other and producing open content for other educational systems in the world to utilize. Open content is not enough. We need to open up the learning system as a whole to the benefits of participation, socialization, networks, and peer interaction
  • Education in Africa, like many other systems in the world, would benefit enormously from a shift to social participative networked learning
  • Two-critical questions need to be answered by anyone who wants to adjust the education system: 1. What does technology now do better than people can? 2. What can people do better than technology?
  • Content duplication, scaling, and reproduction are far better managed by technology. One recorded lecture can be seen a thousand times online without significant increase in expense. The content broadcast of any course can be opened and shared online fairly easily, using simple tools like Skype, ustream, or Elluminate. Duplicating content – where we are now with open educational resources is easy and cheap.
  • the social dimensions of learning are still best managed by humans
  • Sugata Mitra has demonstrated the value of peer and self-directed learning in India
  • In Africa, the foundational learning and knowledge development that must take place to break the cycle of crisis and urgency can best be met through social participative networked learning. In this model, educators can take advantage of the scalability of open content, the broadcast potential of lectures and recordings, and the social interactive potential of large-scale peer-based learning
  • Traditional educational models simply cannot scale rapidly enough
1. It should be based on a unit of influence that is at the control of each individual (i.e. connections not networks)
2. Scale social interactions (not only content) so large network learning occurs, but in a way that permits various group/collective sizes
3. Promote and benefit from learner autonomy, helping learners to building skills and capacity for ongoing learning
4. Use distributed, decentralized technical infrastructure (p2p not centralized)
5. Extensively use learning analytics, preferably blurring physical and virtual interactions
6. Use curriculum intelligently (linked data/semantic web) in order to provide learners with personal and adaptive paths
7. Allow information splicing so that flows can be adjusted and organized to reflect different learning and social tasks
8. Enable easy variance of contexts – or as my colleague Jon Dron states – “context switching”.
9. Offer varying levels of support and structure, under the control of the learner. If a subject is too challenging, learners can choose a structured learning path. Or, if learners prefer greater autonomy, more flexible paths can be adopted.
10. The system needs to learn from the learners (Hunch is a good example)
11. Integrate activities from various services so learners can centrally interact with data left in other services (Greplin)
12. Provide learners with the tools to connect and form learning networks with others in a course and across various disciplines (diversity exposure to ideas and connections needs to be intentional)
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Laptops in class

A few days ago I wrote about employing technology in classrooms and how we need to make sure that it’s appropriate technology and not being used just because we can.  I felt at the time that it probably wasn’t a good idea for students to have their own machines in front of them because of the many distractions present online.

Today I came across an article that discusses the scenario (i.e. laptops in classrooms) from both perspectives, and offers some insight into the issue.  I’m intrigued at the possibility that laptops and internet connectivity may bring some advantage to the classroom.

The one point mentioned in the article that resonates strongly with me is the use of the word “engagement”.  I’ve often felt that students in my classes aren’t actively engaged with the content and recently I’ve started to think about options in terms of encouraging that process.  The idea that managing the expectations of both staff and students is also a powerful factor that’s often left to chance.

I guess it comes back to the point I made in the first article.  It’s not enough to throw technology at learning / teaching and expect it to solve the problem (if there’s even a problem to solve?).  The use of appropriate technology needs to be integrated into the curriculum if it’s to make any positive impact.

Here’s the link to the article:
http://bwatwood.edublogs.org/2008/11/16/students-and-laptops-in-the-classroom/

And to a site related to discussions about the use of laptops in classrooms:
http://cte-laptop.wetpaint.com/?t=anon