Social Networks for Learning

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I have created accounts in a variety of social media tools, such as Facebook and Ning but utilize them by reading what others have posted. I am not really compelled to share myself on these sites. At the start of this semester, I set-up a Yammer account for one of my courses that required it and utilize it for the required components but have not taken advantage of the opportunities to interact with other groups in PSU. It is not that I do not see the value of interacting in social networks, it is more that I am not compelled to use these sites to share.

Learning is enhanced by social interaction, and this opportunity has been the focus of a range of studies. The social cognitive theory quantifies the impact of interaction on the learner. Social interaction through modeling and observation can positively affect learning, and all of us can benefit from vicarious learning opportunities. Learners can build self-efficacy through interaction with others in a social realm. I believe that social networks can provide an opportunity for the influences that social interactions can provide. In a distance education setting, in particular, a social network can be extremely valuable.

Online social networks as formal learning environments (Veletsianos & Navarette, 2012) describe a distance education course using Elgg. I have heard of this tool, but did not know much about it. After exploring the study described in this article, I am intrigued with the possibilities of incorporating this into a course. For distance education courses that do not have an opportunity for live interaction, creating an opportunity for social networking can be beneficial by leveraging what is known about social cognitive theory. In a traditional classroom, providing an opportunity to interact with others in a tool like Elgg can provide opportunities to benefit from learning with others outside of our classroom.

Recommendations for an effective role of social networks in learning

  •          Utilize social networking tools in distance education as a way to facilitate opportunities that will lead to success in a traditional classroom according to the Social Cognitive Theory. Is there a way to design a social networking scenario that will assist others in sharing performances of learning and other models? Is there a way to facilitate mentoring relationships?
  •        In a traditional classroom, the instructor can build in social networking opportunities for the students to interact with peers around the world regarding the course content. Maybe the students can work together on solving an authentic problem? Can they provide vicarious learning opportunities for others on the social network?  
The relationship between frequency of Facebook use  (Junco, 2011), provides insight into usage of Facebook and student engagement. After reflecting on this article, I felt like the context of how people use the tool is essential. Using Facebook in a traditional classroom is difficult because there are too many distractions. Maybe we utilize a social networking tool, like Elgg that is designed for learning, and the instructor can design course activities that are similar to the ones in this student that were positively predictive of engagement. The instructor provide opportunities to comment on content around learning. I would be curious if the students that are active in commenting on content would also be more actively engaged in class.

Teaching Our Students to Learn

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I enjoyed reading that two articles this week, Teachers as master learners (Richardson, 2010) and Teaching in social and technological networks (Siemens, 2010). Richardson's suggestion that teachers should be master learners and adopt their students as apprentices for learning. Teaching students to learn and modeling analytical skills will yield results for our students. I believe that being passionate about learning and sharing that passion with our students is one of the best things that we can do for our students.

The suggestions by Siemens really resonated with me. Amplifying, curating, wayfinding, aggregating, filtering, modeling, and establishing a persistent presence make sense. The way that Siemens connected all of these roles to our role as educators makes good sense.

Unfortunately, the current climate of schools yields many challenges for teachers. My perspective is built from 15 years as an educator in the public school system in California, so my answers will over insight that I have gained from this context but will probably be relevant in other arenas.

These are the major challenges that I see for educators to balance self-development and teaching:

-        Large class sizes: Overflowing classes means that it takes more time for teachers to review student work. This time can take away from teachers focusing on their own self-development.

-        New mandates and initiatives too often: In my experience, I have seen programs rolled out and then abandoned for the next new thing too quickly. Just as an initiative seems to be working, then gears must be shifted which takes extra time and planning (and pulls teachers away from focusing on self-development).

-        Using planning time for professional development that is not targeted or relevant: I have sat though many hours of "professional development" that is anything but development. Administrators should honor faculty time and putting things that are announcements in a memo or other forum such as a faculty wiki so that it can free up time for the faculty to focus on opportunities that are meaningful for them.

In my context, I know that a plan of action for achieving balance will be helpful to reach the goal. My ideas for finding balance are:

1. Take advantage of Web 2.0 tools that will make it easier to aggregate, curate, amplify, and filter. Instead of adding an interesting website to a bookmark to look at later, take the extra 30 seconds to subscribe via RSS to my Reader. This will make it easier to keep abreast of great information that can impact my own teaching and learning. 

Using twitter for amplifying content that our students can access and aggregating resources on a class website will free up time in the long run. 

2. Ask for time to indulge in learning that is meaningful for me. Instead of sitting in another meeting that is not relevant, find out if it is possible to take that time for learning opportunities that will truly have an impact. It may not be granted, but it does not hurt to ask and present a well-thought out plan for the time.

3. Find like-minded educators to interact with in person or online. Sometimes we can gain so much from the spark of inspiration from others. Sometimes it is just one missing link that can make a huge difference. These connections can make all the difference and inspire the balance between teaching and learning.


Time is always the limiting factor, but consciously striving for balance between teaching and self-development is going to provide many benefits for our own well-being and re-ignite some of the passion that we felt in choosing a career in education. 


Group 2 Blog Summary: Learning Revisted

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textisbeautiful.png

I am in the process of researching Word Clouds for my policy paper, so I thought that I would start with a Word Cloud of the blog entries that will be discussed here. I created this Word Cloud using the site Text is Beautiful

This group summary is Group 2 with the following members:

Josemaria Carazo Abolafia 
Devon Marie Mower 
Sharray Kleinfelter  

and me, Chrystal Maggiore

There were clearly some common themes that all of the group members touched on in their blogs. Revisiting learning was the focus of the week, and it was nice to see that learning was the highest frequency word in all of our blogs according to the size of learning in the word cloud. Defining learning in our current context is a topic that truly requires discussion. Some common themes in the group's blogs are below:

1. We agree with Dede's proposed shift in epistemology: we need to allow students to construct and collaborate on developing meaning.

The group agrees that a shift in epistemology is necessary because learners should have a chance to work together in developing meaning instead of having the information passed on from an instructor. Devon describes this shift by stating that "learning isn't about memorizing facts anymore." We all agree that learning should be collaborative and the advancements in technology support this goal.

Josemaria described this focus as "don't give the solutions to the students but make them complete the task by themselves, find the information by themselves, reach the solution by themselves".

Sharray indicates that we should focus on "allowing our students to explore and figure things out on their own using their resources, the learning becomes more real for the students, and they have a higher level of understanding".

Devon describes the shift as "creating of understanding from multiple sources."

I described this shift as "individuals collaborate on the development of knowledge that fits into their particular context...approaches to teaching that are constructivist".

2. Deciding what are the important things to know is an issue that needs to be addressed and reformed.

Sharray, Devon, and I made mention of the standards and their impact on the shift in epistemology. Sharray shared that she was "bothered by the fact that non-teachers are telling us how and what is important to teach.  We should have a voice where standards are concerned." I lamented that "having standards but allowing each community to put their own twist on it" is great, but "developing standards for curriculum is a huge expensive task" that not many communities had resources for the undertaking." Devon suggested that "we need to review our curricula and core content to determine what should be taught and explored". Josemaria did not have as much of a passionate focus on the reform that is needed with respect to the curricula and core standards.  All of our talk of standards sparked Josemaria's interest in them, according to a comment of his on Sharray's blog. I think that this may offer some insight into the extreme necessity for change in America's curricula, in particular. We would need a few other perspectives from Spain before being able to identify some themes with the future of the curriculum there.

Some differences in the discussions

The group blog posts on Revisiting Learning were more alike than different, but there were a few noticeable differences in the tone of the discussion. Sharray and I took more of an optimistic approach in the tone of why a shift is necessary and that connectivism can work in classrooms. Josemaria took the approach of breaking down the differences between classical education and new learning, and offers the suggestion of finding the balance between them. Devon made a call for reform effort and identified what needs to change in America's classrooms before we can truly shift epistemology.

Implications for Revisiting Learning: Connectivism is a good plan, but there are some reservations on the ability to implement it fully at this time.

Our group agrees that connectivism is a good plan for shifting epistemology, but that classrooms are not there yet. Devon suggests three keys to reform classrooms so that they can move towards connectivism. Josemaria suggests that connectivism is "a reference model for creating and shaping learning communities" but there should be a balance with some aspects of classical education. Sharray indicates that we can move more towards the suggestions of connectivism by allowing the use of students' own cell phones or mobile devices.

I approached this topic in my blog by discussing an idealized view of connectivism, but did not necessarily discuss the reality of fully adopting this theory at this time. After reading my colleagues' blogs, I now see that we still have some work to do before we have schools, districts, or even larger communities that have adopted this new epistemology.

The blog review has offered me many ideas for reflection and consideration. Considering a balanced approach is fruitful and looking at the obstacles is necessary process in order to move forward. It takes time for a new learning theory to become commonplace. We should consider the learning goals and outcomes that we expect for our students when choosing a theory to inform and base the sequence of instruction for a unit: one size does not fit all. Just as we should carefully select the best technology tool for the job, we should also carefully think about the learning that we would like to see in our classrooms. We all agree that we must allow for construction and collaboration to develop understanding, and that a shift to how we think about learning because of the impact of Web 2.0 is upon us. 

The Epistemological Shift of the 21st Century

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In A seismic shift in epistemology (Dede, 2008), Dede describes the notion of epistemology changing with society's adoption of Web 2.0 into everyday life. Web 2.0 has impacted all facets of the way we all live and work, so it does make sense that our views on learning need to be changed to reflect the new ways that we access information. Informal learning from the web is a way of life now for many - when we are curious about something, we "google" it, review websites such as Wikipedia, blogs, and news on the internet.

To me, we need to adapt what is taught because people now need a different skill set in order to succeed in life and work in the 21st century.  Dede suggests that epistemology needs to be fluid - we cannot just stick with the classical view of what people are expected to know and teach them in the exact same ways that people have been taught. 

This may be an unpopular opinion as an educator, but I have to admit that I like standards. I like the idea of having a definition of what needs to be taught. We need some consistency in order to have a rigorous curriculum. I like the idea of being able to have flexibility in how I can teach the standards, however. I like to infuse projects that are meaningful and exciting for me so that I can pass on that excitement and love of learning to my students. The standards give us some quality control in classrooms - a teacher that is fascinated with sea horses cannot devote an entire semester to their intricacies. We all have an expected list of what is important for students to understand.

 I particularly like the framework for 21st century learning developed by the Partnership for 21st century skills. It is not a set of standards as much as it a definition of the skills that should be supported in any curricular area. It is a framework that can be utilized in conjunction with curricular standards. 

The suggestion to adopt a view that curriculum can vary based on community seems a bit daunting. Developing standards for curriculum is a huge expensive task. Not many communities would have the resources for this massive undertaking. As I reflect on Dede's suggestion and the connection to standards, I think that we may be on the same page in terms of having standards but allowing each community to put their own twist on it. Add in content and skills that honor the differences in a region or community. Maybe the community is a single school that has negotiated skills that are meaningful to their mission. It makes sense and fits into the culture of Web 2.0 where individuals collaborate on the development of knowledge that fits into their particular context. Allowing approaches to teaching that are constructivist and situated with flexible assessment is a necessity at this time.

Epistemology should be fluid as what is working for us now in 2013 may not be in the case five years later in 2018. The standards will not rewritten that quickly but we need to have flexibility in redefining what it means in a world that may be drastically different. Connectivism fits into this shift perfectly. Connectivism leverages the relationships between our work, learning, and knowledge. "Know-where" as mentioned by Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age (Siemens, 2004) is a critical skill that is needed to be successful in the global economy. Learning can be impacted by people in our network - the so-called "hubs" that are well-connected and able to foster knowledge flow.

We have all recently witnessed information, news, or videos going "viral". This viral phenomena explains how information can move quickly across the world. Globalization is a reality, and connectivism allows learning to be impacted by the changing views.

I found it interesting that both Dede and Siemens related the shifts in education to terminology often reserved for earthquakes.  Dede refers to it as a seismic shift and Siemens mentions a tectonic shift in society. Society, culture, and many aspects of our everyday life have been impacted by the web. It truly is an earth-trembling experience of enormous proportions with significant consequences for the future...the evolution of this shift will be seen in our lifetimes. It is an exciting time for teaching and learning!

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

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Media has the power to enhance learning, both in a classroom context or in Web 2.0.

Why?

We can leverage the work of others for a new purpose.

Flickr has created a platform not only for photo sharing, but for endless learning in options in all curricular areas. We can take the work of others and repackage it into another context. Pedagogical uses of Flickr (Chu and Dusen, 2008) offers a range of ideas that give a classroom teacher options for leveraging the photographs to be used in purposes that may not have been considered by the photographers.

I loved the idea of doing digital storytelling in Flickr and sharing the writing in the "comment" box. The options for social studies are endless and exciting. It is so easy to connect with photographers or travelers in the places being studied, and being able to utilize these pictures in classrooms could be a powerful learning experience for students.

Using Flickr in classrooms offers a range of enhancements that would not be easily achieved otherwise. I recall my days in school Xeroxing pictures from books to utilize on my poster board projects. Flickr makes it easy for students to utilize photos by asking photographers to assign a license for use. Many allow for educational uses of their work, and those pictures can be turned into podcasts, comics with Bubblr, trading cards, and other projects and culminating activities.

Media is a foundation for all other literacies.

Media literacy in itself is a huge area of focus, research, and study. Being literate about media in the world today is critical. Media, however, can also be considered a foundation that can be used to enhance understand in all other types of literacies.

Looking at pictures can be a prompt for creative writing or spoken word. Media gives us something to write about or discuss. Media tells a story on it's own, but when combined with written or spoken word, it becomes even more powerful.

Other types of literacy are also supported and enhanced with media.

- Cultural literacy is enhanced through media as evidenced by  the class at Kansas State University described in Video ethnography projects .

- Sociocultural literacy is enhanced by tools like http://www.woophy.com/. Being able to have one click access to pictures taken around the world is extremely powerful.

- Content dealing with any other type of literacy can be created through podcasting and published in order to inform and start a two-way communication and dialogue as described in Educational uses of podcasting (Harris and Park, 2008)

 Media makes our learning richer and deeper than we can go with words alone. Access to media that can be used and remixed in Web 2.0 is a gift for instructors and learners.

Reflective Dialogues Leading to Creating "Knowledge Artefacts"

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In "Blogging to Learn", Barlett-Bragg outlines a five-stage process for blogging. If I had read this article on the first day we started blogging for the course, it would not have had the impact that it now does. Even though this is only the fourth blog entry on content for this course, I feel like I have already moved through several of these stages. With reflective dialogues being a goal that leads to an accumulation of knowledge artefacts, I am started to realize how to structure my blogs to allow for reflective dialogue with my colleagues in this course. I am finding power in the comments from my colleagues: it is helping me to continue to develop my thoughts on the topic and the acknowledgement in the comments is helping to build my confidence. I may realize after more time blogging into this semester that I am actually currently still in the introspection stage of blogging, which would be fine too - I am welcoming the growth and the opportunity to "find my voice" through this process.

Blogs can serve as a way to document and extend the learning in a formal learning environment. It is a way to reflect on the learning that is taking place in a classroom, online course, or other type of formalized learning environment. It allows the learning to extend beyond the walls of the classroom and opens up the learning to other educators, administrators, parents, and the community. There are many ways to incorporate blogs as part of a traditional learning environment. Some options described in Blogging to Learn can be adapted to serve a role in formal learning environments: group blogs where students take turns writing posts or debriefing on classroom learning, publishing writing that was done in the classroom and selected to publish online in the class blog, or learning journals to reflect on the learning that is taking place in the classroom.

Student blogs vary depending on the content and context of the coursework. MRKT3311 blogs are a platform for assignments: the assignment offers students a chance to blog as part of a "practice field". Students are able to work together to develop skills. One of the blogs that caught my eye was Notes to Bob. It has a combination of blog entries that are related to marketing content, but also touches on pop culture, entertainment, and current events on twitter. I appreciated the format of merging class assignments with other entries that have a more informal feel but are still related to the topic of marketing.

When blogs are self-initiated and informal, they can serve many roles. First, there is a certain level of dedication that an individual would exhibit from self-initiation of a blog. One may take on the project in a way to share knowledge described in "Personal knowledge publishing and its uses in research". A self-initiated blog may start out as a personal knowledge publishing activity that could eventually become formalized as a blog in the stricter definition of the term. Personal knowledge publishing offers great freedom to the individual and builds a platform to find like-minded individuals to engage in conversation. 

When using blogs for learning, I think there are two levels to consider in the process: using blogs from others in the classroom or incorporating blogging into the pedagogy of the class.

Using blogs written by others can serve as a way to build knowledge on a particular subject. They can also be used as a starting point for engaging in conversations or debate. When incorporating blogs from others into a class, one should consider that there is a "community of editors". Reading the comments is part of the process of reviewing a blog - from the comments, we can learn if others are in agreement or not or if the blog and the information shared is reputable. An educator may want to build in selected blog entries into a course and require that the comments are also reviewed. 

Student maintained blogs, such as those from the Cornell study abroad blogs, served as a means to communicate with home and share learning. Kyrsten Costlow's blog  has the feel of an online journal and could be considered personal knowledge publishing.

Bloggers can sometimes get radical. They may admit they are on their "soapbox" as evidenced by a rant by The Tempered Blogger . Conversely, a blogger may write in a manner that does not acknowledge their own biases, which may in turn convolute or bias the learning in a formal classroom environment. Everyone is entitled to have a "pet peeve", but we must recognize that there are always many facets to consider and admit our biases. We need to teach our students information literacy, including how to recognize biases on websites.

Will Richardson's blog serves as a platform for supporting educators and offering thought-provoking information to stir up conversation and initiate change. I appreciated the format of referencing books, classrooms, speakers, and anecdotes. This format offers an unlimited supply of ideas to base blog entries on, and it seems that it would be especially powerful for educators, like myself, that support others in using technology in the K-12 classroom. Having a blog like this would allow me to share success stories in classrooms that I have visited, share quotes from books and articles that I have read, share notes from conferences and other keynotes that I have attended, and engage in conversations with colleagues. Since Will Richardson is also an author and speaker, his blog also serves as an advertisement for his books and services that he offers as a consultant. It builds a brand identity, as mentioned in http://profcmns2012.blogspot.com/. Entrepreneurs in education need to distinguish themselves with a blog if they have a product to sell: it is a public forum for free promotion that can prove relevancy in the field. I would think that a large number of "independent bloggers" are entrepreneurs.

One could get lost for days in the plethora of "knowledge artefacts" present online. I am adding to the feeds that I subscribe to in my RSS aggregator: it is exciting and inspiring. I am thinking about the type of blog that I would like to maintain after this course. Do you think that you will continue to blog after EDTEC 467?

Cognition and Metacognition with Web 2.0

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"Web 2.0 Technologies as Cognitive Tools of the New Media Age" offers a wonderful overview of Web 2.0 tools and cognitive processing. It believe that it is an overview that should be required reading for any teacher in a classroom today. I truly appreciated the clarification and distinction of the type of learning that occurs and the cognitive processing of each of the major categories of Web 2.0.

It was enlightening to have clarification on the difference between wikis and blogs. My previous understanding was that they could be used for similar types of activities, but the elegant description of collaborative writing tools vs. a journaling activity is a very concrete way to distinguish between the two tools. Selecting the right tool for the job is an important part of being an educator and understanding how to leverage the tools to provide a platform for cognition is critical for the new learning that educators need to support in their classrooms.

Folksonomy is of particular interest to me because of my past experience with this tool. About six years ago, I assisted a colleague of mine as an assistant for a course that she was teaching on Web 2.0 technologies. Even though I was still learning about the implication of these tools in our classrooms, I agreed to support her in teaching the course as I was in a technology support role in the district. One of my jobs to assist was taking all of the links for the class and tagging them on del.icio.us. When I asked how I should tag the links, her suggestion was to do what I thought made sense and "the more the better". We also created our own tag for our class so that any links shared by any participant could be found at any time. 

I did not understand how my tagging the links would matter in the big picture. It felt very arbitrary and somewhat based on my whims at the time that I reviewed the websites. I began to develop a process for categorizing these links.  Hsu, et. al.'s suggestion that these links will offer a way to find others that are like-minded and use a similar vocabulary is genuinely an "A-HA" moment for me. I now understand that my system of tagging means that others that think the same way that I do will be able to find the websites that I am sharing and recommending. The system is not so arbitrary after all...in the big scheme of things, finding others that think the same and speak the same "language" is going to be more meaningful than trying to relate to someone that does not think the same as me. 

Having a "human filter" for the website allowed me to take advantage of the work others had done. I began referring to del.icio.us when I was looking for information on a topic. Instead of relying on the algorithm for Google searches, I was able to easily access sites that were already recommended by others as a valuable resource.

Another advantage of folksonomy is seeing how others classify the information. I could see if any of the class participants saved the links that I posted and added additional tags. This can help us all understand the meaning and relevance of the site and socially construct knowledge through this simple task.

The categorization of the cognitive processes with Web 2.0 technologies is a nice guideline for understanding how to utilize the tools listed, but I would argue that Collaborative Writing Tools, such as Wikis and Docs can also provide a platform for organization and integration with prior knowledge. Making the connection to prior knowledge via a Wiki or Doc is a plausible activity that would enrich the information shared in the wiki. 

I also argue that tagging offers insight into the metacognition of the individual. It is an activity that can be reflected upon and is a peek into the thinking processes of the individual. It might not be a metacognitive activity in itself, but it does give us insight into the thinking process.

I am excited about implementing a wiki into my work moving forward. As I have been working with educators around the state providing professional development on technology integration, I would like to incorporate a tool for collaborative writing to share successes and strategies. Being able to capture the ideas and leverage the interaction among individuals in my sessions is an exciting way to extend the learning beyond the training sessions. In the past, I felt like this would add an extra layer that educators would not welcome in their professional development, however, I now understand the essential nature of a wiki acting as a depository for the new found knowledge as teachers move forward on the ideas they discovered in the training session. Have you contributed to a wiki during a professional development session? Would you be open to the idea of collaborating on a wiki with colleagues?

'The Gamer Mentality' and Unrestricted Growth in the Petri Dish

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I have friends that are gamers but have never been one myself.  In the past, I have tried to understand the draw of games but John Seely Brown in the video Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner helped to make it more clear: there is an innate urge to learn and be measured, even at play.  

The challenge for an instructor is to design their learning environment in a way that can encourage learners to learn, innovate, and apply their learning to new situations. This is truly the art of being an educator: designing learning environments, our roles as instructors/facilitators, assessment, and the roles of our students with the constraints of the standards and other mandates in our school. We need to be able to design learning environments that draw upon the learners need to participate, play, and learn. Sometimes we are mentoring and guiding, other times we are modeling and instructing. We are adapting our plan based on the results of our formative assessment. We can encourage our students to take on a role of a team facilitator or allow the students to inquire and construct their understanding. Although the lines between learners, teachers, and facilitators can be blurred, at the end of the day, the educator is the one crafting and guiding the process. Being a teacher is sometimes like a dance that we have orchestrated, but in the back of our minds, we know that at any time, the song can change, and we need to be ready to start a new move.  

Change is the only constant: it has been philosophized since ancient times and continues to be a relevant message in today's world. The millennials are a generation that embraces change. In 2025 - twelve years from now, the millennials will be moving their way up the ladder in the workplace, and I believe that this will have a dramatic effect on our professional context. Technology will likely be very different but collaborative modes of participatory learning will be even more pronounced. Participation in virtual communities might be an unwritten rule to stay relevant in the next decade. It is already commonplace for one to "google themselves" and as online footprints continue to develop over the decade, it is hard to process how it will look in 2025. Information retrieval may look very different: I am predicting more visuals, models, and other graphic representations. 

I was also interested in the concept of "openness aversion" discussed in The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. I have seen and talked to people about this concept about the mentality of how we view things that are free. Society does undervalue free and open systems. I see that we are drawn to a more expensive product with out really looking at a free option. Wikipedia has made it acceptable to learn from a free encyclopedia, instead of Encyclopedia Britannica or one of the others. I agree with the Pillars of Instructional Pedagogy that points out the mistake in bans of Wikipedia. We do need a collaborative, participatory mode in our learning. We should be teaching our children information literacy in order to evaluate and distinguish information so that we are not misled by online sources.

Henry Jenkins' interview with John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas discussed some insights and core concepts in their book 'A New Culture of Learning'. The best learning environments were compared to a petri dish: teachers should strive for an unrestricted growth within the boundaries. I am a big believer in procedures - one of the books that help me survive my first years in the classroom was The First Days of School. Harry and Rosemary Wong's strategy of establishing clear procedures in the classroom seems to fit within this concept of unrestricted growth within the boundaries. 

The philosophy that I took in my own classroom was to establish procedures with the technology but do so in a way that is not limiting their ability to grow: make short troubleshooting guides or lists of acceptable activities for the equipment. It felt like it was an experiment on how to actually achieve this with my students.

 Finding that sweet spot of the perfect fusion between boundaries and unlimited growth potential in something that I am curious about developing further. I find myself supporting educators that are struggling with this concept. I am interested in helping to define "classroom management in a 21st century learning environment". Do you have any ideas to share about how you have been successful with cultivating unrestricted growth within the boundaries of your classroom?

Web and Learning 2.0

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Learning, Working, and Playing in the Digital Age by John Seely Brown and Minds on Fire by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler written nine years later offers a wonderful analysis of what is evolving to be "Learning 2.0".  

In Web 2.0, learning is a social system. Peer-based productive inquiry is the norm where knowledge is sought out when it is needed and demanded. Learning is a flexible fluid experience. From this experience, "open participatory learning ecosystems" have evolved that have reversed the flow of learning to be a tacit to explicit experience. Learning is flipped from the environment of the past where one needed to know all of the explicit knowledge from books before diving to the depths of understanding. Web 2.0 has allowed learning from the practice and experience of others in the community. Explicit knowledge is accessible whenever it is needed.

In Web 2.0, the roles of learner and facilitator are blurred. Boundaries are more fluid. Individuals share the roles as both knowledge producers and consumers. The community learns and grows from the contributions of others. In Web 2.0, any member of the group could facilitate or produce knowledge. The producers can fluidly move to the role of consumer. Knowledge has an infinite reach that allows the entire community to grow.

In a traditional learner environment, the facilitator or the teacher is the one imparting their knowledge on the learners. Knowledge is transferred to others within a pre-determined pedagogy. Learners got information from the teacher and books.

"Learning 2.0" has truly challenged the traditional learning environments, but it has proven to be a viable context. The hardest part for educators seems to be the process of structuring learning environments to leverage the new tools and resources in order to facilitate the best learning scenario. My recent conversations with other educators often seem to revolve around what it should look like in our classrooms. Allowing for more personalized and collaborative learning is not something that many of us have experienced so it requires more effort in the design and facilitation.

The new role for learners and facilitators is needed and viable in 21st century classrooms. Teachers must consider the skills that are necessary for their students in the future. They are so different than past generations, and will continue to evolve as technology progresses.

When we are designing learning environments, we should ensure that they allow for participation. Licenses for use and remix need to be explicit to encourage a participatory learning ecosystem. When designing learning environments within these constructs, the focus should be on creating a community of learners that grows together.

One resource that I have found particularly helpful in thinking about the design of learning environments is the Framework for 21st Century Learning. It offers a holistic view of outcomes and skills that are necessary for 21st century learners. The 4 C's: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity seem to fit nicely into the Learning 2.0 scenario described by Brown and Adler. Considering the information, literacy, and technology skills that are required in order to support this framework offer educators a system to support learners in our changing world.

Update based on Questions and Comments:

A facilitator will do things like extending learning by asking the right questions, clarifying misconceptions, or suggesting tools or resources to further guide the learners. It is sometimes referred to as a "guide on the side" instead of a "sage on the stage." This tangible description is often visible when you walk into a classroom. Sometimes the role of instructor can be determined within the first few seconds of walking into a classroom for an observation. Are the desks in rows facing the teacher and is he or she standing up in front of the room lecturing? Or, are the students working in teams or learning centers with the instructor blending in with the groups moving around the classroom to support students?

I believe that an instructor a classroom facilitating properly is more than a "guide on the side", however because there are still times when the facilitator will need to step into more of the expert role and instruct on key concepts.

Another key difference between the traditional and contemporary role of facilitators and learners is that they can roles can change throughout the process. A learner can step into the role of a facilitator role to share a discovery. Learners can take turns facilitating the team. Brown shares a great example about a student who had a question answered online by expert on penguins.  If this student went back to his classroom and shared his learning, he could take on the role of facilitator and be the classroom's "resident expert" on the topic.

Have you been involved with learning environments that do a good job of encouraging everyone to step into the facilitator role at some point? Do you have any ideas on how to best accomplish this in your classrooms?

Greetings!

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I am a former middle school Science teacher that found my niche in supporting instructors to integrate technology into their classrooms. I enjoy working with teachers that are just starting to use technology as well as those that are more experienced and need support at an advanced level. 

I have supported teachers with podcasting, classroom wikis and blogs, media integration, Interactive Whiteboards, classroom response systems for instant formative assessment, and a range of other devices. I have developed and delivered customized professional development sessions for schools and districts for a variety of initiatives and grants. I have used a variety of Web 2.0 tools over the years, and am online exploring resources, sites, blogs, journals, and tweets more time than I would care to admit on a weekly basis. 

I am looking forward to blogging for my EDTEC 467 course. 

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