Informaticopia

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

JISC webinar - Wednesday

The theme for today's session of the week-long webinar is 'Learning and Teaching', with Tom Franklin and Mark van Harmelen, who are the main organisers/facilitators of the whole set of activities, as the speakers.

Tom Franklin began by talking about the typical trajectories of new technologies, from them being new and not well understood, and people tending to use them to repeat old ways of working, but then through a phase of beginning to enhance old ways of working, through transforming work, and to them being mature, well understood, and a co-evolution of work and technology. He suggests Web 2.0 technologies in learning are still at an early stage where they are still not understood. He presented a slide comparing old learning to new (www.slideshare.net/Downes/understanding-learning-networks) and also exploring new forms of teaching; he says almost all teaching today is driven by the assessments (from teacher and student perspectives); whether this will change or not, he is a little sceptical.

In looking at how things might be done differently (and whether the new technologies can really allow us to do anything new), he looked at sharing of results/data from different groups/studies, and may lead to cross-disciplinary work; sharing resources between students (eg over several years), through course-based social bookmarking; collaborative work and co-design. He ended by presenting a dystopian view for discussion from last week's 'Observer' newspaper (>>>) in which 'in which people endlessly Google themselves and expertise counts for nothing; online communities gather merely to confirm their own prejudices; internet television purports to showcase amateur talent but is dominated by corporate marketing; newspapers are driven to the wall by online advertising and news sites edited at the whimsical click of a mouse; and knowledge of history and literature becomes smothered by an avalanche of blogs from self-obsessed teenagers.'

Mark explored some basic issues around what kinds of values we wish to promulgate in our learners; he supports the empowerment of learners, to work independently and in groups, who engage in lifelong learning. He discussed/promoted the ideas of Vygotsky (social constructivism) and Papert (constructionism), and in his work promotes working in teams, using critical incident analysis. He suggests that, if we are to 'grow' independent learners, we need to foster meta-cognitive skills, and need to find ways to develop groupwork assessment. He concludes (as an enthusiast for Web 2.0) that Web 2.0 on its own will not solve the problems, but may work as catalytic tools in conjunction with developing the new pedagogies.



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