(Please forgive my late posting. There was a medical emergency in my family.)
How is learning presumed to occur within the context of Web 2.0?
As Brown and Adler discussed in their article, Minds on Fire…, learning is presumed to happen in a social context while both consuming, creating, and sharing knowledge. Facilitating this experience, Web 2.0 assist this by providing resources that allow people from a variety of places, backgrounds, and interests to come together, collaborate, and exchange information in “innovative ways” while focusing on “how we are learning” and not “what we are learning”.
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?)
Traditional learning environments are top down, teacher directed, didactic instruction where the learner was supposed to “soak up” information that was presented, connect it to other bits of previous information, and form chains of transferred knowledge that we, as the learners, could then put into action. Now, both the teacher and the learner are expected to have active participation, collaboration, and creation of knowledge in a more socially constructed environment.
Personally, I feel there is space for both methods. If I am taking a music class and learning how to play the violin, I expect the lesson will be teacher directed and I am to be a sponge. This is something technical that I have no understanding of at that moment. I would have to be trained. Training, although the most basic form of teaching, occurs when there is a lack of base knowledge and/or a behavior needs to be created.
Bear with me just a moment as I try to explain my thoughts….
When I joined the military, I had no idea how to really be a soldier other than what I heard from vets or saw on TV. In an environment like the military, behaviorism (creating a behavior) most certainly has its place – afterall, it was the miltary. It was in the military that I learned how to stop thinking and start doing. Now, before some rush to judgement on that statement, these were examples of things I had to learn to do as a natural extension of myself since I was an immature soldier (not to be confused with an immature adult). As a brand new soldier, I had to learn how to follow orders and not question them; jump out of an airplane in the middle of the night with equipment that weighed more than me; rappel facing the ground instead of looking up at the sky; rush into a scene with bodies broken, bruised, dead, and dying (although it was portrayed by actors in the training phase); march even though my body ached and blisters covered my feet; and fight with another human until one of us won.
Much like a young child is potty trained, trained to eat with a spoon, and trained to conduct proper hygiene, an immature soldier has to be trained too. One can not interact with the immature as one would act with the mature. As a soldier professionally matures, the training changes to education. This is all part of a soldier learning to be a soldier.
Much like a pre-teen/teenager starts to construct their identity, a mid-grade soldier learns to construct his/her own image of the soldier they want to be as well as the professional path they are going to take. For example, a mid-grade soldier is normally at the point they have to decide if they are going to stay in or get out, is this to be a career or just a stepping stone to another career, will they change jobs within the military, for enlisted – will they stay enlisted or become a warrent officer or even an officer. At this point, education is starting to consist of participation but is mainly driven by a top-down model of knowledge but there are choices that can be made by the learner as to where the instruction will occur.
Finally, with professional maturity in place, the professional military education (PME) changes to the connectivism (collaboration, participation, creating personal connections) paradigm and the soldier learns how to analyze his/her position, the military at large, and the military in a more global, social, and cultural l sense.
To add confusion to the matter, this overly generalized discussion changes according to the job a soldier holds or during times of conflict like we have seen for the past 10 years. For me, basic training and airborne training were based in behavorism, learning to do my job as an intelligence analyst was based in constructivism, and training to become a non-comissioned officer (a middle management rank) was based more on a hybrid of constructivism and connectivism.
I do not see a one style fits all when it comes to learning environments but an appropriate learning style for the learning environment.
What implications do these shifts have for how we think about designing learning environments?
The biggest shift I see is considering what prior knowledge the learner possess. A learner cannot necessarily collaborate if he/she has no prior knowledge. With the increase of the learner’s knowledge base, comes the freedom of creating participatory environments that are social in nature.