There is no secret ingredient

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So I've had a moment of realization (inspired by Kung Fu Panda) -- there is no secret ingredient, just a missing one. For all of my seeking, the key to collaborative reflection has always been right in front of me. As much as we don't want to believe it, we still operate in an academic setting that rewards our students for right answers and conformity over dialogic inquiry and socially negotiated meaning-making. When that really begins to change, the technology tools necessary to support new forms of scholarship are already here -- at least in part -- the rest are coming.

Case in point, the conflicting data from the pilot study on e-portfolios in teacher education. Students did not value giving or receiving comments as much as other aspects of the e-portfolio experience, but yet they generally commented well beyond what was required by the instructor. Why? My hypothesis is that students have been conditioned to focus on the quality of their own work and not on how their contributions to the discourse within the community actually serve to move the collective forward in their thinking and practice.

What can we do about this unfortunate situation? It's all just talk if we don't fundamentally value students' voices and contributions -- then we need to make sure our practices are in sync with our values, not the norms of higher ed. How long does deprogramming take? What's the critical mass necessary to change a world view? Which experiences are most powerful in the change process? No answers today -- merely questions.

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