The twittersphere is buzzing with how to use Web 2.0 in places of learning. I nearly wrote “in the classroom”, and that is perhaps symptomatic of this issue in educational institutions today. “A place of learning” was once synonymous with an educational institution, but this is manifestly untrue today. I justify this assertion later in this post.
About the Author
I started my career as an information technologist, and I am still very active in that area today. Since 1997, I have also been an educator. I am perhaps extremely lucky in being totally at ease with information technology, and its use in places of learning (in its widest possible interpretation) are manifestly obvious to me. What has also become obvious to me is that many educational institutions are finding harnessing that technology a truly daunting task.
Astute readers will by now have noticed that I am using the phrases “places of learning” and “educational institutions” to mean very different things. For the purposes of this post, an educational institution is a school, college or university, typified by having a campus or two. A place of learning needs a more careful definition: it is wherever the learner (note: not necessarily a student) happens to engage in learning. By way of example of a place of learning, it can be a street junction where a learner has received an answer the question “Which street should I go into?”. This is an example “micro-learning”. And what do we get when we have lots of micro-learning? Answer: A curriculum-full of knowledge.
“Dinosaur” is a cipher for educational institutions that will not survive today’s earthquake in learning. “Moth” is a reference to Biston betularia, also known as the peppered moth, which is perhaps the best known example of an organism adapting to its changing surroundings.
The Landscape from Here
There are many educational institutions which have embraced Web 2.0 with a vengeance. These are the moths: they demonstrate the ability to adapt to changes in the way in which learning is happening.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the dinosaurs. Such places may pay lip service to adapting to today’s ways of learning, but they will not survive as future mainstream educational institutions.
In between there are the institutions that are wavering. This post has been written with them in mind.
What NOT to Do
There are institutions that see their way into today’s ways of learning as merely a transcription exercise: take already existing paper-based materials, and copy them into some sort of Learning Management System (LMS). At the risk of preaching to the converted, I will mention just two of reasons why this is a disastrous approach. Firstly, it fails to capitalise on the advantages of Web 2.0 technology. Secondly, there is no vision of how learners might be learning in ten years’ time.
How to Encourage Change
For any institution to adapt successfully, it needs to embrace everybody in that institution. Just coming “from the top” is not enough if all the people at the “chalkface” (we need a better word for that, but until the English language catches up with today’s technology, it will have to serve) refuse to adapt, then the institution will not survive. Equally, if there is a groundswell of opinion that is ignored by the management team, then the instution will also die. What is needed is co-operation of leadership from all levels within the institution. If you are one of these people, then post is addressed to YOU!
I believe that the best way to help any organisation to change is to “communicate, communicate, communicate”. This perhaps leaves open the question of “What to communicate?”, and I hope that you will find at least some of the resources below useful in your labours.
|Changes in the ways learners are learning (video)||http://www.innovativelearning.com/|
|Creativity, learning and risk-taking (video)||http://www.innovativelearning.com/teaching/index.html|
|Revolution in access to knowledge (video)||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U|
|Changes in the way people communicate (video)||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8|
|University of Texas sample mobile device web pages||http://mobile.utexas.edu/|
|E-Learning Centre Of Excellence||http://www.melcoe.mq.edu.au/|
|A student’s perspective (video)
(Courtesy of @teachernz http://teachernz.edublogs.org)
I know that the list of resources in the table above is extremely limited. Please do your own bit for helping fellow teachers/trainers/tutors/facilitators by adding your own resources in the comments below – others will thank you for them!