How is learning presumed to occur within the context of Web 2.0?
Learning within the context of Web 2.0 is successful for multiple reasons. As Brown states, the Web is a place where “learning, working, and playing co-mingle”. This quote really stood out to me because I find it to be very true in my life as an educator, co-worker, family member, and friend. The Web helps me in different ways depending on the role that I am playing at the time. For example, I am able to give advice to my brother who lives in Colorado about the house he is thinking about purchasing, while at the same time I can be exchanging E-mails with a co-worker and setting up conference dates with my principal. The web ultimately helps us to find information, share the information, and use the information in a new way, or in a new context. One of the topics brought up in Learning, Working & Playing in the Digital Age reminded me of a book that I have read. Brown discussed the idea that not one person is the expert when it comes to learning within the context of Web 2.0. Brown says that the real expert is the “community mind”. The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations by James Surowiecki is a fascinating read. The book highlights many examples proving that large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant those elite few are. For example, the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged. The average was closer to the ox’s true weight than the separate estimates made by cattle experts. I believe that this shows the “power of crowds” and the internet reminds me of one huge “crowd”. When you mix together a diverse group of individuals who all have their own ideas, the potential for learning is great.
*If you are looking for an interesting summer read, I would highly recommend this book!
What are the differences in the role of the learner and the facilitator as compared to “traditional” learning environments? Do you consider these roles and processes viable/valid given your philosophy of learning?
The “traditional” learning environment consists of one classroom containing students of the same age. These students are following the instructions given by an educator. The facilitator’s role is to teach an outlined curriculum and the role of the learner is to demonstrate the mastery of the content. In a Web 2.0 learning environment, students are listening to stories and telling their own stories. Students are engaging in discussion/study groups. They are coming up with new ways of thinking and they are sharing ideas. Each student has unique interests, which sometimes are not common interests with the students they are surrounded by. Students can navigate using the Web to find people with common interests. The role of the facilitator changes because they are providing their students with more access and more opportunities to learn the curriculum. The role of the learner is still to demonstrate the mastery of the content; however, they can succeed by using multiple intelligences. I believe the overall goal (learning the content) is still achieved. Learning can occur OUTSIDE of the classroom.
What implications do these shifts have for how we think about designing learning environments?
Brown believes that the “digital kid” is always multiprocessing. This is a hard concept to really grasp if you are unable to do this yourself. For example, I am unable to comprehend what I am reading if I am also listening to music or watching TV. I find myself doing a lot of re-reading when I do try to multi-task; however, students in our classrooms may be successful with multiprocessing. When designing a learning environment, I believe it is becoming important to allow flexibility and freedom to a certain degree. There is not only one way to complete something today. Kids growing up in this era use a trial and error method. They go out and find what works and adapt the information to fit their individual needs. If we set up a learning environment that allows our students to do just this, we may witness amazing learning taking place that is meaningful (like a 7 year-old student learning about penguins from an expert at an Ivy League University).