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Barbara Lindsey

Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0 (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE CONNECT - 1 views

  • But at the same time that the world has become flatter, it has also become “spikier”: the places that are globally competitive are those that have robust local ecosystems of resources supporting innovation and productiveness.2
  • various initiatives launched over the past few years have created a series of building blocks that could provide the means for transforming the ways in which we provide education and support learning. Much of this activity has been enabled and inspired by the growth and evolution of the Internet, which has created a global “platform” that has vastly expanded access to all sorts of resources, including formal and informal educational materials. The Internet has also fostered a new culture of sharing, one in which content is freely contributed and distributed with few restrictions or costs.
  • the most visible impact of the Internet on education to date has been the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, which has provided free access to a wide range of courses and other educational materials to anyone who wants to use them. The movement began in 2001 when the William and Flora Hewlett and the Andrew W. Mellon foundations jointly funded MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative, which today provides open access to undergraduate- and graduate-level materials and modules from more than 1,700 courses (covering virtually all of MIT’s curriculum). MIT’s initiative has inspired hundreds of other colleges and universities in the United States and abroad to join the movement and contribute their own open educational resources.4 The Internet has also been used to provide students with direct access to high-quality (and therefore scarce and expensive) tools like telescopes, scanning electron microscopes, and supercomputer simulation models, allowing students to engage personally in research.
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  • most profound impact of the Internet, an impact that has yet to be fully realized, is its ability to support and expand the various aspects of social learning. What do we mean by “social learning”? Perhaps the simplest way to explain this concept is to note that social learning is based on the premise that our understanding of content is socially constructed through conversations about that content and through grounded interactions, especially with others, around problems or actions. The focus is not so much on what we are learning but on how we are learning.5
  • This perspective shifts the focus of our attention from the content of a subject to the learning activities and human interactions around which that content is situated. This perspective also helps to explain the effectiveness of study groups. Students in these groups can ask questions to clarify areas of uncertainty or confusion, can improve their grasp of the material by hearing the answers to questions from fellow students, and perhaps most powerfully, can take on the role of teacher to help other group members benefit from their understanding (one of the best ways to learn something is, after all, to teach it to others).
  • This encourages the practice of what John Dewey called “productive inquiry”—that is, the process of seeking the knowledge when it is needed in order to carry out a particular situated task.
  • ecoming a trusted contributor to Wikipedia involves a process of legitimate peripheral participation that is similar to the process in open source software communities. Any reader can modify the text of an entry or contribute new entries. But only more experienced and more trusted individuals are invited to become “administrators” who have access to higher-level editing tools.8
  • by clicking on tabs that appear on every page, a user can easily review the history of any article as well as contributors’ ongoing discussion of and sometimes fierce debates around its content, which offer useful insights into the practices and standards of the community that is responsible for creating that entry in Wikipedia. (In some cases, Wikipedia articles start with initial contributions by passionate amateurs, followed by contributions from professional scholars/researchers who weigh in on the “final” versions. Here is where the contested part of the material becomes most usefully evident.) In this open environment, both the content and the process by which it is created are equally visible, thereby enabling a new kind of critical reading—almost a new form of literacy—that invites the reader to join in the consideration of what information is reliable and/or important.
  • Mastering a field of knowledge involves not only “learning about” the subject matter but also “learning to be” a full participant in the field. This involves acquiring the practices and the norms of established practitioners in that field or acculturating into a community of practice.
  • But viewing learning as the process of joining a community of practice reverses this pattern and allows new students to engage in “learning to be” even as they are mastering the content of a field.
  • Another interesting experiment in Second Life was the Harvard Law School and Harvard Extension School fall 2006 course called “CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion.” The course was offered at three levels of participation. First, students enrolled in Harvard Law School were able to attend the class in person. Second, non–law school students could enroll in the class through the Harvard Extension School and could attend lectures, participate in discussions, and interact with faculty members during their office hours within Second Life. And at the third level, any participant in Second Life could review the lectures and other course materials online at no cost. This experiment suggests one way that the social life of Internet-based virtual education can coexist with and extend traditional education.
  • Digital StudyHall (DSH), which is designed to improve education for students in schools in rural areas and urban slums in India. The project is described by its developers as “the educational equivalent of Netflix + YouTube + Kazaa.”11 Lectures from model teachers are recorded on video and are then physically distributed via DVD to schools that typically lack well-trained instructors (as well as Internet connections). While the lectures are being played on a monitor (which is often powered by a battery, since many participating schools also lack reliable electricity), a “mediator,” who could be a local teacher or simply a bright student, periodically pauses the video and encourages engagement among the students by asking questions or initiating discussions about the material they are watching.
  • John King, the associate provost of the University of Michigan
  • For the past few years, he points out, incoming students have been bringing along their online social networks, allowing them to stay in touch with their old friends and former classmates through tools like SMS, IM, Facebook, and MySpace. Through these continuing connections, the University of Michigan students can extend the discussions, debates, bull sessions, and study groups that naturally arise on campus to include their broader networks. Even though these extended connections were not developed to serve educational purposes, they amplify the impact that the university is having while also benefiting students on campus.14 If King is right, it makes sense for colleges and universities to consider how they can leverage these new connections through the variety of social software platforms that are being established for other reasons.
  • The project’s website includes reports of how students, under the guidance of professional astronomers, are using the Faulkes telescopes to make small but meaningful contributions to astronomy.
  • “This is not education in which people come in and lecture in a classroom. We’re helping students work with real data.”16
  • HOU invites students to request observations from professional observatories and provides them with image-processing software to visualize and analyze their data, encouraging interaction between the students and scientists
  • The site is intended to serve as “an open forum for worldwide discussions on the Decameron and related topics.” Both scholars and students are invited to submit their own contributions as well as to access the existing resources on the site. The site serves as an apprenticeship platform for students by allowing them to observe how scholars in the field argue with each other and also to publish their own contributions, which can be relatively small—an example of the “legitimate peripheral participation” that is characteristic of open source communities. This allows students to “learn to be,” in this instance by participating in the kind of rigorous argumentation that is generated around a particular form of deep scholarship. A community like this, in which students can acculturate into a particular scholarly practice, can be seen as a virtual “spike”: a highly specialized site that can serve as a global resource for its field.
  • I posted a list of links to all the student blogs and mentioned the list on my own blog. I also encouraged the students to start reading one another's writing. The difference in the writing that next week was startling. Each student wrote significantly more than they had previously. Each piece was more thoughtful. Students commented on each other's writing and interlinked their pieces to show related or contradicting thoughts. Then one of the student assignments was commented on and linked to from a very prominent blogger. Many people read the student blogs and subscribed to some of them. When these outside comments showed up, indicating that the students really were plugging into the international community's discourse, the quality of the writing improved again. The power of peer review had been brought to bear on the assignments.17
  • for any topic that a student is passionate about, there is likely to be an online niche community of practice of others who share that passion.
  • Finding and joining a community that ignites a student’s passion can set the stage for the student to acquire both deep knowledge about a subject (“learning about”) and the ability to participate in the practice of a field through productive inquiry and peer-based learning (“learning to be”). These communities are harbingers of the emergence of a new form of technology-enhanced learning—Learning 2.0—which goes beyond providing free access to traditional course materials and educational 2.0 and creates a participatory architecture for supporting communities of learners.
  • We need to construct shared, distributed, reflective practicums in which experiences are collected, vetted, clustered, commented on, and tried out in new contexts.
  • An example of such a practicum is the online Teaching and Learning Commons (http://commons.carnegiefoundation.org/) launched earlier this year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • The Commons is an open forum where instructors at all levels (and from around the world) can post their own examples and can participate in an ongoing conversation about effective teaching practices, as a means of supporting a process of “creating/using/re-mixing (or creating/sharing/using).”20
  • The original World Wide Web—the “Web 1.0” that emerged in the mid-1990s—vastly expanded access to information. The Open Educational Resources movement is an example of the impact that the Web 1.0 has had on education.
  • But the Web 2.0, which has emerged in just the past few years, is sparking an even more far-reaching revolution. 2.0 such as blogs, wikis, social networks, tagging systems, mashups, and content-sharing sites are examples of a new user-centric information infrastructure that emphasizes participation (e.g., creating, re-mixing) over presentation, that encourages focused conversation and short briefs (often written in a less technical, public vernacular) rather than traditional publication, and that facilitates innovative explorations, experimentations, and purposeful tinkerings that often form the basis of a situated understanding emerging from action, not passivity.
  • In the twentieth century, the dominant approach to education focused on helping students to build stocks of knowledge and cognitive skills that could be deployed later in appropriate situations. This approach to education worked well in a relatively stable, slowly changing world in which careers typically lasted a lifetime. But the twenty-first century is quite different.
  • We now need a new approach to learning—one characterized by a demand-pull rather than the traditional supply-push mode of building up an inventory of knowledge in students’ heads. Demand-pull learning shifts the focus to enabling participation in flows of action, where the focus is both on “learning to be” through enculturation into a practice as well as on collateral learning.
  • The demand-pull approach is based on providing students with access to rich (sometimes virtual) learning communities built around a practice. It is passion-based learning, motivated by the student either wanting to become a member of a particular community of practice or just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something. Often the learning that transpires is informal rather than formally conducted in a structured setting. Learning occurs in part through a form of reflective practicum, but in this case the reflection comes from being embedded in a community of practice that may be supported by both a physical and a virtual presence and by collaboration between newcomers and professional practitioners/scholars.
  • The building blocks provided by the OER movement, along with e-Science and e-Humanities and the resources of the Web 2.0, are creating the conditions for the emergence of new kinds of open participatory learning ecosystems23 that will support active, passion-based learning: Learning 2.0.
  • As a graduate student at UC-Berkeley in the late 1970s, Treisman worked on the poor performance of African-Americans and Latinos in undergraduate calculus classes. He discovered the problem was not these students’ lack of motivation or inadequate preparation but rather their approach to studying. In contrast to Asian students, who, Treisman found, naturally formed “academic communities” in which they studied and learned together, African-Americans tended to separate their academic and social lives and studied completely on their own. Treisman developed a program that engaged these students in workshop-style study groups in which they collaborated on solving particularly challenging calculus problems. The program was so successful that it was adopted by many other colleges. See Uri Treisman, “Studying Students Studying Calculus: A Look at the Lives of Minority Mathematics Students in College,” College Mathematics Journal, vol. 23, no. 5 (November 1992), pp. 362–72, http://math.sfsu.edu/hsu/workshops/treisman.html.
  • In the early 1970s, Stanford University Professor James Gibbons developed a similar technique, which he called Tutored Videotape Instruction (TVI). Like DSH, TVI was based on showing recorded classroom lectures to groups of students, accompanied by a “tutor” whose job was to stop the tape periodically and ask questions. Evaluations of TVI showed that students’ learning from TVI was as good as or better than in-classroom learning and that the weakest students academically learned more from participating in TVI instruction than from attending lectures in person. See J. F. Gibbons, W. R. Kincheloe, and S. K. Down, “Tutored Video-tape Instruction: A New Use of Electronics Media in Education,” Science, vol. 195 (1977), pp. 1136–49.
Rhondda Powling

Main Page - Web 2.0 That Works: Marzano & Web 2.0 - 1 views

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    A wiki to support teachers wanting to use technology in the classroom. An excellent resource of web classroom classroom and how to use them in the classroom
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