Archive for the ‘Digital Learners’ Category

What would a course look like if it happened through YouTube?  Pizer College Media Studies professor Alex Juhasz did just that. She recorded all the class sessions and fed them to YouTube. In addition, all the assignments were either YouTube comments or videos.

Despite the “YouTubiness” of the course, it’s more than just a course about YouTube. It’s an exploration of how people learn (she calls it “amateur-led pedagogy”) and what difference a medium makes.

Also, don’t miss Henry Jenkins interview with Juhasz (Part A, Part B).


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olpcMy 11 year-old son’s OLPC laptop arrived this afternoon, and those were his first words as he opened the box and pulled out the tiny green and white machine. That’s a profound statement about how he sees technology.

Remember when the computer was the thing you used to write an essay? Remember when educational technology was Reader Rabbit instead of a chat client? Now technology is more the thing that connects you to a community. My hunch is the little “thinking tool” in my son’s hands is going to transform his world.

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yawnAlthough I no longer teach regularly in the classroom, I’ve racked up a few years of MST (mainstream teaching), but lately I’ve been feeling a bit ambivalent. I used to get so much energy from walking into a classroom. But now, I’m just not feeling it. It feels a bit like falling out of love. Where did the feeling go?

I was reading Scott Karp’s reflections on his preference for reading online, and the idea came to me. Maybe after teaching a bit online, teaching face-to-face has become too boring. Teaching on a network is just more fun. I’m like the student that Marc Prensky mentions who feels like they have to power down when they step into the classroom.

How does that happen? Does your teaching style get rewired when you teach online?

(Photo, 195/365, by marie-II)

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teensI glanced at the latest statistics on teens & social media released yesterday from Pew Internet and noticed an interesting distinction. Girls are more likely than boys to create and share content online. They’re more likely to blog and more likely to share photos. Boys do dominate in one category, however. They’re more likely to share video. I wonder if that means that girls are more likely to engage in online courses where they’re encouraged to share content. Does anyone know?

(Photo, Teens, by Victoriano Izquierdo Ramirez)

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There are a couple of items I came across today about bending with the world rather than against it.

First, according to the Edublog Awards, Karl Fisch wrote the most influential edublog post of the year by asking, Is it ok to be a technologically-illiterate teacher? I have to admit, Karl’s words are direct and sometimes sharp, but we need to challenge ourselves & our colleagues to keep learning. It’s not acceptable anymore to take pride in ignorance.

The second are the words of Garrison Keillor. If you think Keillor is a folksy traditionalist, you’d be mistaken. From an interview with Keillor on Rocketbook this past week …

On using email & chat for work

“It is so much more efficient and decent and civilized than the old system of sitting around a long table in meetings in which boring bullying people dominate. It’s a huge advance.” (Here! here!)

On Wikipedia

“Wikipedia, although its authority was questioned early on, is now the backbone of any writer’s research.”

See for yourself.

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students 2.0Launching on December 10th, Students 2.0 is spearheaded by Clay Burell (self-confessed hater of “schooliness” and lover of learning) and a number of student edubloggers from around the globe. From the Students 2.0 site …

“For decades, students have been put in classrooms, sat down at desks, and told how to learn and what to learn. For a time when students were expected to become widgets for the vast machine of industry, this model of education was highly effective. However, we are now entering a new age: an age where thinking is more important than knowing, where the thought trumps the fact … Everywhere, we see changes: in how business operates, in how people interact and success is accomplished. That is, we see changes everywhere besides the closed bars of education. The system continues to “stay the course” upon a falling ship. Yet, the widgets within the machine are no longer content to grind away.”

This should be an interesting project to watch.

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If an 18th century doctor walked into a 21st century hospital, he’d be baffled. Medicine has changed a lot in a century.  But if an 18th century teacher walked into a 21st century classroom, he’d just pick up where he’d left off. old classroomThe point is, the ways we teach haven’t changed all that much in a hundred years. In some ways, that’s a good thing. I suppose teaching is like the monarchy or the papacy in the sense that it’s always there. It’s stable. There’s a sense of continuity in teaching as there is in other institutions. That must give us some comfort. Unfortunately, I don’t think it improves learning. We know things about learning now that we didn’t know a hundred years ago. We know that people learn more effectively when they integrate what they already know. People learn better when they get to apply what they learn. You’re better off doing something rather than being told what to do. We know that as far as teaching techniques go, lecture is at the bottom of the ladder in terms of helping people gain understanding that they’ll be able to use even ten minutes after the lecture finishes (as Carl Weiman’s research shows). Yet, we continue to line up the desks and expect learners to sit quietly while we tell them what they should know. I have a friend who likes to tease “If I didn’t say it, you didn’t learn it.”

We can’t afford to think this way in a world with cell phones, Facebook and the Wii. Learners just aren’t paying attention anymore. They are “present but otherwise engaged.” Want to re-engage learners? Take a look at the skills that Chris Dede says you’ll need to have. Dede, a keynote at this year’s Conference on Information Technology, says you’ll need to be able to design learning experiences that learners can personalize. You’ll need to hand over some of the responsibility for teaching to learners. Expect them to bring content to the course. You’ll need to be able to guide them while they’re learning by doing. And you’ll need to know more about assessment than how to write a multiple-choice test. For example, you’ll need to know how to assess collaborative work. You’ll need to be able to support peer review. Expect learners to initiate their own assessment.

Want to see 21st century teaching in action? Look at what Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay are doing with the Flat Classroom Project. Listen to how Kyle Brumbaugh is talking to his Global Communications students: “Google the Jelly Rolls; Become a Jelly Rolls expert; Connect to other Jelly Rolls fans; Create your own content and contribute to the global knowledge base about the Jelly Rolls;
Plot the band’s tour on Google Earth and create links on theKMZ file to your blog posts on the shows…” Look north to Clarence Fisher’s classroom or watch how Darren Kuropatwa collaborates with learners on an assignment. Watch how Newfoundland music teacher Andrew Mercer engages learners.

Dede says the hardest thing about learning how to do this isn’t the learning, it’s the unlearning. How different is this from how you’re teaching now?

(Photo, Old Town – The First San Diego Public School, by Teresa Hsu)

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