Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Learning 1.0 and Learning 2.0

I started writing this item last December, but saved it as a draft and forgot about it. It is still relevant so here it is six months later.

I've been waiting for ages to hear Ewan's talk at the OU in Cardiff, both Catherine and Rob had mentioned on the Learning Zone how useful it was, so I managed to find 40 minutes today to listen to him.

Ewan draws together some of the Web 2.0 ideas with great clarity. He makes clear that Learning, teaching and thinking are distinct in the existing environment and not necessarily well enabled with our existing style of delivery.

The lecture is often one way and if interactive, normally only with a small number of students. Small groups become friendly with the tutor, they ask for help and tutors have special groups - but these groups are cliques, not maximisation of learning. This is mirrored in FirstClass, Blackboard etc, with small numbers being part of any discussion.

Even in seminar sessions this can happen. There is no thinking time, cliche tutor groups have individual leaders who can dominate the learning focus. Otherwise students just rely on the library.

Learning 2.0 is based on the concepts of Web 2.0 - learning by conversation, not by direction. Conversation is perceived as a normal form of learning.

The tools include blogs, podcasts, Wikis etc, but the tools are less important than what they do for the learner, and for those who are supporting the learning..

There are significant barriers to us as teachers and designers being involved in this. We have to do what we do at present well, do we have time to innovate? I certainly hope so.

However with a new generation, students will do this themselves, so we need to facilitate that learning. This movement is about conversation - young people pick up their mobile and text (should I say txt) friends

We know students lose stuff in courses stored on paper or in the VLE. But in del.icio.us they are visible and can be used again - safe in cyberspace.

A student can compare views with everyone in the world - evaluate other users both by who they are and by what they say.

These students now have a wide source of knowledge and we academics need to provide the skills to construct knowledge. This knowledge is open flow - not controlled by gatekeepers. So our role changes from one of gatekeepers (which I hope it never was) to one of knowledge brokers. People who are researchable.

This is a challenging vision, but one which we need to get academics to engage with. This links to the wider debate which the HEA is having about linking research and teaching, not in some false way but by helping our students become researchers in the way that Mick Healey and Alan Jenkins argue in their recent HEA Report

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