Daily Archives: May 25, 2013

Week 2: Web 2.0 and Learning

P/S my apologies for the late post.

For learning to occur there has to be a question to think about and content to interact with, and by content I mean credible online sources with which one can reference one’s thoughts or argument to build upon or challenge.

In Web 1.0, content created became very accessible. Then came Web 2.0 technology which allows for people to interact with contents shared; Brown and Adler described it as “a new kind of participatory medium that is ideal for supporting multiple modes of learning.” The affordances of Web 2.0 has made a great impact on social learning, which Brown and Adler described as “understanding of content [that] is socially constructed through conversations about that content and through grounded interactions, especially with others, around problems or actions.”

Prior to Web 2.0 there were some social learning in / outside traditional classrooms but with Web 2.0 more people can now interact in or contribute to a conversation.  Web 2.0 has made possible for the community of learners to have access to more ideas and learning from peers whom you don’t normally hang on with. For example, in a online course I took in Fa’12 where three generations of pedagogy was discussed, I could not understand what connectivism is even after reading the article. For one thing I have never heard of it like I have the social-behavorial and socio-cognitive approach. The instructor gave his take on it but the concept/pracitce was still unclear to me until one student described and explained his reading and understanding of connectivism from another book. That was when I first felt the power of sharing in social learning. This affected me as an instructional designer as I embark on a project to develop an open course in iTunes U. I would push for an open platform to allow the community of learners to discuss and share their thoughts in the learning journey.


Philosophy 1.0 & Future Possibilities

In the context of participatory learning and Web 2.0, more sweat is on the brow of the student than on the teacher. Didactic instruction is tiring for the teacher and too often boring for the student. The learning is not even as enriching for students when they play a passive role in the learning. It’s their learning; they should be the one directly involved and responsible. When actively engaged in personally meaningful problems of real-world significance, students exert their energies to derive solutions, tinkering with the resources provided by the teacher/facilitator. Students become the primary actors, and teachers merely set the stage. In the interview with Henry Jenkins, Doug Thomas believes that “the role of educators needs to shift away from being expert in a particular area of knowledge, to becoming expert in the ability to create and shape new learning environments.” A defining trait of the learner in a 21-st century classroom is expert knowledge. Students insightfully report on their robust analysis of the problem and the proposed solution, which they derived on their own. Paying homage to the old adage, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” how can students hone their imaginative abilities unless teachers provide them with the opportunity? Seeing the sparks of imagination fly in the classroom as students zestfully work distinguishes them from the teacher in the modern classroom of Web 2.0 learning.

What do I see as my role in 2025? Equip students to thrive in society. Equip students to adapt to the future, forever in motion. Equip students to resourcefully use their mental capacities and educational training to extend their opportunities through continuous learning. In 2025, these are my roles. To remain professionally limber, I will continue my educational training: workshops, classes, and professional learning communities, to name a few. I can also see my role as a networking coach since “networking is another crucial component of participatory learning”1 (p. 18). Students will need guidance in finding their online communities with which to learn.

Perhaps an even more pressing question is will I even have a job. “From such a process, one learns and continues to learn from others met (if at all) only virtually, whose institutional status and credentials may be unknown”1 (p. 16). Will virtual schools, which potentially require fewer instructors/facilitators, replace the traditional brick and mortar academics? Such a possibility exists. “Of all of these [innovations], Darnton argues, the Internet has had the fastest and the most geographically extensive effect on every aspect of knowledge making and all of the arrangements of life around how we make, exchange, share, correct, and publish our ideas”1 (p. 19). Such an unprecedented radical change requires the restructuring of knowledge creation and acquisition in educational institutions, and perhaps they will receive a mental reconstruction, too.

Now is an exciting time to be an educator. Being on the forefront of this change from didactic teaching to dynamic learning will test our ability as learners to redefine ourselves and adapt.

1 Davidson, C. N. and Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The Future of Learning in a Digital Age.


Learning Philosophy 1.0

Information literacy is vital in today’s globally connected society, where the norm is the near-constant ebb and flow of news bites, blogs, and advertisements.  When often-conflicting sources of information are available, it is imperative that information users of every sort are able to evaluate statements for their validity before making decisions, big or small, no matter if the objective is researching a political candidate or trying to find a review for the new pizza place down the road.  Every day, the library community is bombarded with many options of how to find the information both formal and informal learners require for work or for play, and they must be able to judge for themselves whether or not they are finding the right sources.

Through structured information literacy training, librarian instructors can help students and patrons become proficient in locating the best possible resources on their own.  Away from the reference desk and out in the real world, library users are not always going to have a librarian to guide them, and they must be able to interact with information in an educated and purposeful way during these informal learning opportunities.  The goal is to find the most valuable information quickly and efficiently, but when flustered or rushed, it can be too easy to revert to a basic internet search that yields only popular sites, not necessarily the most reliable sources.  It is the librarian’s responsibility to create familiarity and comfort with search methods that are both user-friendly and useful.  By encouraging students and patrons to think critically about information as it is presented to them, librarians can help learners make the best choices for their personal literacy needs throughout their lives.

Wordle: Information Literacy

Thinking Collaboratively About Information

It is important to realize that “learning is happening online, all the time, and in numbers far outstripping actual registrants in actual schools” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009, p. 10).  This informal learning is now an everyday part of many of our lives, but in formal education, people can sometimes forget that there are many types of learning and many methods of instruction.  It’s not entirely the fault of more traditionally minded educators because so much of schooling is standardized these days.  “Call this cloned learning, cloning knowledge, and clones as the desired product” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009, p. 21).  People need to start thinking of new innovative ways to work within the structures that have been mandated by educational policy.  More participatory learning may be an answer.

“With participatory learning, the play between technology, composer, and audience is no longer passive” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009, p. 16).  Both educators and learners can collaborate during the learning process, discussing ways to think differently about information and ways to best use the new technologies and learning collectives that are readily available.  Many of my colleague teachers had rules against using Wikipedia for research, but I took a different way of looking at it.  “To ban sources such as Wikipedia is to miss the importance of a collaborative, knowledge-making impulse in humans who are willing to contribute, correct, and collect information without remuneration: by definition, this is education” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009, p. 29).  As I mentioned in a Diigo note last week, I told my information literacy students to use Wikipedia to their advantage.  At the bottom of every article is a list of references used to write that article, *those* are your sources!  I had previously explained that encyclopedias are often filled with information that is too general for scholarly research anyway so they shouldn’t use them.  I just tied that in with Wikipedia since it is in fact an encyclopedia.  The references listed at the bottom on the other hand are the perfect research short cut.  Why do all that again if someone has already compiled it for you?

Thinking critically about information is a priority in not just formal education, but also during day-to-day informal learning as we try to figure out the changing world around us.  “The increasingly rapid changes in the world’s makeup mean that we must necessarily learn anew, acquiring new knowledge to face up to the challenges of novel conditions as we bear with us the lessons of adaptability, of applying lessons to unprecedented situations and challenges” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009, p. 33).  As the world becomes more wired and learner expectations change to expect more collaborative and imaginative learning experiences, educators need to plan for more interaction with information because learners are becoming more comfortable with the idea that education isn’t always a traditional classroom, but can instead be a website where they can find new information that is relevant to their changing needs.  “Given the range and volume of information available and the ubiquity of access to information sources and resources, learning strategy shifts from a focus on information as such to judgment concerning reliable information, from memorizing information to how to find reliable sources” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009, p. 27).  Being able to judge information and interact intellectually with new sources might be the preeminent skill for the 21st century learner.

Jenkin’s blog posts about his conversation with John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas about their book A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change brought up some interesting points about the need for imagination in the classroom as a way to move away from traditional teacher-centric education models to more learner-focused learning opportunities.  By shifting focus from a central point and instead allowing for the sorts of collaboration called for by Davidson and Goldberg, educators can allow themselves the freedom to allow freedom of imagination in learners.  “You don’t teach imagination; you create an environment in which it can take root, grow and flourish” (Jenkins, January 21, 2011).  By building a collaborative environment, both educator and learner can think differently about the information that is available now as well as any information that may become available in the future.  “Essentially what this means is that as the world grows more complicated, more complex, and more fluid, opportunities for innovation, imagination, and play increase” (Jenkins, January 19, 2011).  By decentralizing information gathering, sharing, and creating, learning can become more a playful and enjoyable experience that allows for unexpected innovations and discoveries.

Week 3: Learning Philosophy

Wordle: Web 2.0

When reflecting on my education over the years, I noticed that the way that I currently teach is very similar to the manner in which I received my learning. Most of my life, I was taught the core curriculum’s through teacher directed discussions and lectures. Occasionally we would have projects to complete, some even involving technology (mostly PowerPoint); but even within the description of the projects, our hands and creativity were bound to certain expectations. Due to this traditional learning style, I find myself striving to do my best in lecture driven classes. I prefer to have all criterion spelled out clearly so that I know the expectations for how I can get the best possible score. If I obtained that highest score, I know that I am learning what the teacher intended for me to know! After reading these articles, I could relate to them in this manner. I find myself being very competitive with peers and co-workers on a daily basis, hoping that I am the “top dog” who will gain recognition and/or approval. I seek perfection and am very afraid of risk-taking. It was not until I took a course last year at a local college that really examined how the brain works, how people learn, the impact of design, and the power of play; that I started thinking about how I could make changes in my classroom in order to allow all of my students to achieve higher-level thinking when solving inter-curriculum woven projects.

My philosophy of learning simply lies in the sole point that EVERYONE can learn. Wrapping my head around this concept is easy; executing it the way that it should happen is difficult. In a typical day, I find myself pacing my teaching on the curriculum timelines. I teach mostly lecture style lessons due to the time constraints we have on getting all subjects covered. I try to tie in student interests and allow them to make choices in their learning, but ultimately there is a lack of time due to expectations of performance on standardized assessments. My heart breaks every time a student asks a question related to a subject but is “outside” the guidelines of their expected knowledge and we have to hold off on researching or digging deeper on their inquiry because of the push to get everything done. At our monthly data meetings, we examine every student’s progress on standard assessments. If students are in the “green” we know that they are learning and mastering skills set for their specific grade level. To us, that signifies that learning has occurred and that our teaching has been effective. I particularly liked the quote from The Classroom or the World Wide Web? Imagining the Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age that stated, “On the K–12 level (primary and secondary public schools), governmentally mandated programs, including those such as “No Child Left Behind,” tend overwhelmingly to reinforce a form of one-size-fits-all education, based on standardized testing. Call this cloned learning, cloning knowledge, and clones as the desired product. Such learning models—or “cloning cultures”—are often stultifying and counter-productive, leaving many children bored, frustrated, and unmotivated to learn.” This quote directly impacts my thinking on what I have been trained to look for as far as student learning in my classroom. We often wonder why students today are constantly being tested for learning support and other issues or are being unnecessarily medicated, when majority of the time the core “issues” with these children in our classrooms stem from lack of interest in learning. To me, learning would happen best in a student-driven classroom setting where each individual child has the ability to take risks, experiment, play, discover, be innovative, collaborate, etc.

As we move forward, Web 2.0 tools and participatory-style teaching should become more of the norm. The classroom would look more like a chaotic office space. Students would each be working on an interest based project that stems across many curriculum’s and extends far beyond the expectations originally outlined by standardized tests. Students would be willing to discover and play. They would take risks, ask questions, and discover many outcomes or non-outcomes to their inquiry. Teachers would be facilitators that work with students to guide their research, their project building, to facilitate an experience that probes students to think deeper into what they are working on. In this instance, teachers would also become learners aside of their students. They would model what it means to be open thinkers who are free of feeling judged by their peers, educators, or selves. Students who had the ability to learn and express their knowledge in a way that is reflective of their unique interest and learning style, would be self-motivated to dig deeper for understanding in what they were researching or experimenting on.

Looking into the future, by the year 2025, I would like to see myself teaching in a classroom that is free of standardized teaching and assessing; one that is led by student-driven inquiry and the idea that collaboration across the Web is necessary and okay when learning about many core curriculum’s  I would take a role as a coach/facilitator in my students learning. I would encourage them to dig deeper, build connections, explore via the internet and other Web 2.0 tools. These tools would become essential in facilitating learning, not just an added bonus or tag-on to a lesson as it seems to be now! In this style classroom, students would be willing to take risks and to be open thinkers. I watched two videos last year from the TED Foundation that discussed the importance of play today. Both examined the idea that adults today are not associated with play. We are afraid of being judged. We don’t take risks. Both of which hinder our ability to design, create, and experiment with anything in life. If we can get past the insecurities of making mistakes, we can become better facilitators of learning in a project-based, student-led classroom environment.

Week 3 Learning Philosophy

What constitutes learning for me is meaningful/purposeful use of knowledge acquired. Learning facts and or concepts without meaningful application will be forgotten quickly, after the exams. When projects are included as part of the formative and summative assessment, it allows the students to process information more deeply and in a context that is meaningful to them.

I think learning should take place in a collaborative environment (face-to-face or online) whereby more ideas/thoughts can be generated/shared through discussion on a topic prescribed by the instructor. There should be required readings before the discussion/class so that students would have some information to process during class with peers and instructor. For on-campus courses, this approach would be called a flipped-classroom when content is read outside class and discussions during class can go deeper. As students share their thoughts on the given topic, they are participating in the learning process. In physical classrooms, seats should be arranged to facilitate small group discussions so that every student have a chance to participate (an example of a collaborative classroom design)

We can know that learning has occurred when students are able to describe the concepts and explain their understanding for application. Some visible signs of learning are: high student motivation and the questions they ask about the topics given. Sir Ken Robinson made this statement that “curiosity is the engine to achievement” -when students are curious about a topic or subject, they are more likely to learn.

I appreciate what Douglas Thomas shared about giving students “opportunities for exploration, play, and following one’s passions.”  When I took the course Introduction to Distance Education, I was allowed to write about learning objects for my final paper. At that time in my previous job, I needed to learn more about LOs, so researching articles on that topic was meaningful for me.

My philosophy on learning is that it should be engaging (interesting and meaningful), in manageable chunks (from simple to complex), involves group discussions, include assessments for learning (formative) and assessments in learning (summative), and should not be hindered by use of technologies that are unfamiliar.

P/S what is the url for Wordle? I still cannot figure how to use it since 3 months ago and how do we create a blog category for week 3


Thanks, Rachel

Learning Philosophy: Week 3

My learning philosophy consists of all of my experiences as a student and undergraduate.  I also find that it is shaped by the type of learning style that I personally have.  Unfortunately for my students, that happens to be auditory learning. I learn best, and feel that learning occurs, when the teacher is driving the instruction in the classroom.  I thought it was interesting that at the beginning of the interview in New Culture of Learning, they discussed how difficult it is for teachers to let go of their classrooms.  Having the student’s take control makes me cringe!  However, I’ve learned that we have to do a better of teaching them HOW to take control.

One of the most important things we can teach our students these days is to question where their information is coming from.  In a world where Google provides thousands of answers in a split second, learning can only occur with factual information when students are aware of what information is reliable and what is not.  By testing these inquiry skills, we can tell that learning takes place.  With 21st century learners, we must teach them how to get information before they can begin to use the correct information.

Teachers, especially in traditional classrooms, must learn to evolve with the learning process.  In 2025, we will need to facilitators. (I know, I know, that world is cliché too!) But it’s true. By continually changing learning modalities, engaging students as twenty-first century learners, and using a variety of methods and mediums to communicate with students, we will attempt to set the stage for a dynamic and engaging classroom. One full of participatory learning, where students are the creators but the teachers have taught them the best ways of sharing knowledge, piecing through poor information, and using each other as resources to make them better learners.  Here we will see learning occur not when a student can reiterate all of the information that has been drilled into their head, but when they can create based on their knowledge.

Learning in 2025 will truly occur when you don’t just hand the student a computer with a program and asked them to create.  It will occur when students are seeking their own forms of knowledge and choosing the correct modes of doing so. Learning will be seen when students ask each other for help before seeking the teacher, because in a 21st century world, this is what happens more often than not.  I love the idea of bringing the audience to light as students comment on text as they read. Diigo is a tool that I will start using in my online course!

Like it was said in the Davidson and Goldberg article, learning philosophies for teachers and institutions must change with the ever adapting world of knowledge.  I’m trying to change my learning philosophy but it’s not any easy task.  I’ve gone from using IT tools that are somewhat under my control to creation tools, such as Wikispaces, Glogster, Google Docs and BlackBoard Collaboration, to allow students more freedom to share and collaborate on their own, at their leisure.  Now, more than ever, learning is “lifelong.”  We have access to instant information all of the time.  We must change our modalities to teach our students the ways to access good information and use it collaboratively to their advantage; then, we have become successful teachers with students who are truly “learning.”