Learning 2.0


Rethinking Education by Michael Wesch

In Rethinking Education, Michael Wesch invites us to reconceive the university using today’s technologies in the service of today’s students. Does the university system need restructuring? Is it true, as Cathy Davidson suggests, that educational institutions today, for the most part, prepare our students for the 20th century? What do we need to rethink and what can and should we keep of our current university model?

When we meet face-to-face this week we look more closely at Diigo as a teaching and learning resource and learn about Zotero, an example of a tool that helps you to organize, cite and share your research. In our online session, Jorge Castillo will show us how he is currently using Diigo with his students in his literature class. We’ll also look at Educause‘s 7 Things You Should Know About series and I’ll ask you to evaluate some examples of new models of teaching and learning and how they might reconceive or support our current university model.

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18 Responses to “Learning 2.0”

  1. edadedebas Says:

    The Article “Learning Re-Imagined: Participatory, Peer, Global, Online” by Howard Rheingold is about the new communities of practice created by the writer. Rheingold exemplifies sample online courses he offers at Rheingold University, an online learning community he himself built up. His main aim is to build up collaborative learning communities. He runs a mini online course (about 5-6 weeks) with up to 30 participants and shows them the possibilities of online learning practices and how they are made more eligible through collaborative effort. He writes: “It becomes clear to all that it’s not just about the teacher’s performance and the student’s ability to complete assignments. It’s about our joint effort to make the whole of our encounter more valuable than just the sum of our individual learning”. Throughout the article, he emphasizes the significance of collaborative learning and how it enhances the learning process. Moreover, he prefers the term “co-learners” instead of “students”. He has two main methods of creating a community of practice. 1) Blackboard Collaborate (Elluminate): His methods are very similar to our online sessions. He briefly explains how Elluminate is used by illustrating the whiteboard, hand raising, chat, microphone options. 2) Social Media Classroom: this is the asynchronous learning method that he asks students to contribute to generate discussion. It is similar to a blog or a discussion thread that can be built up within Husky CT.

    Rheingold’s article is a very good introduction to online teaching and learning experience. His article introduces the very basics about online courses. There are two things I find particularly interesting: 1) He uses a very apt terminology such as “co-learners” instead of “students”. He keeps referring to the community as a collective learning environment. Moreover, he calls “toddler collective intelligence” when he explains how the co-learners and even himself learn to walk sometimes. 2) I find it interesting that he has 30 participants in each session and giving them enough time to speak. It must be a different experience to follow an online session with 30 participants for both Rheingold and his co-learners. Last but not least, he seems to be a very interesting person. Please check his webpage and Wikipedia page if you have time.

    • soledadre Says:

      Hello Eda, hello everyone. I also found the use of “co-learners” quite interesting because the term itself clarifies what Rheingold wants to build. I think that all these kind of examples of how to apply collaborative learning are great because they can help those willing to do something similar (probably all of us) in their teaching. However, reading your summary I had a doubt about the 30 participants having time to speak: last week I visited a classroom, it was great and the students were speaking all the time; the class had a total of 21 students, there were 5/6 students speaking frequently and 10 that didn’t speak at all. So my doubt is, if even in in-class lessons it is difficult for the teacher to elicit answers from some students, how can you do it with 30 participants in an online session? I guess that the teacher assess the quantity and quality of interventions but the thing is that some students are shy and find it quite difficult to speak, but it does not mean that they have not done the assignments or do not know about the topic. So, would it really be fair? I do not know, I think 30 is too much, at least for a Foreign Language classroom.

  2. marineuconn Says:

    Don’t buy that textbook, dowload it free, by Noham Cohen

    What are the advantages of putting you textbook online if you are a Professor or access it online if you are a student?
    -The cost: textbooks are much less expensive and sometimes free. Professor McAfee allowed two companies, Lulu and FlatWorld Knowledge to sell print versions of his introductory economics textbook. He also allows anyone to save his book as a Wordfile or Pdf for free.
    -(real) access to your textbook: it drastically increases the number of readers worldwide. Instead of selling 2,000 copies of his textbook, Professor Baraniuk says that there have been 2.8 million page views of his textbook.

    Here are some examples of organizations that are managing the textbook online access:
    – “Connexions””: (via Creative Commons license) it offers a FREE content that can be updated by the authors (via feedbacks from the readers) or by Professors and students (via the editing option). The authorship model is changing!
    – “CourseSmart”: owned by five publishers; it “allows students to subscribe to a textbook and read it online, with the option of highlighting and printing out portions of it at a time.”

    iPads Could Hinder Teaching, Professors Say, by Ben Wieder

    iPads are not adpated to college students yet. It is only efficient to watch videos or to do some online readings. The typing especially is slow. On the other hand, tablet PCs use stylus, so it would be a more appropriate tool, however they are very expensive. Why could it be a good idea for students to have iPads? These computers are smaller size and easy to carry around campus. The screen is no longer a barrier. However, textbooks need special formattings to fit the iPad screen. Companies such as Apple are working on new models. The students will eventually decide whether they like it or not, but if they do adopt the Ipad, this will change the way we teach and learn. “It brings the professor’s notes to each student, and the submission of in-class assignments makes diagnoses easier when students have trouble with new concepts,” Ms. Simon, an instructor, says.
    I think having online textbooks is a great idea, especially if it is possible to take notes in the margins and highlight. Regular textbooks are far too expensive and students constantly complain about their prices when the semester starts. Online textbooks are also easy to carry around (you only need a laptop or better, an iPad). I think the “college” iPad is definitely the future. However, as Lois said in her last post, I hope the iPad market will be more diverse.

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      Hi Marine,

      Interesting point of view shown on the first part of your post. However,I wonder and ask you all my dear colleagues, whethe you believe first of all that this accessing of a book online for free can become an actual trend and what could be the reasons for one or other option.
      I am curious to know your opinion and we’ll give you mine with great pleasure afterwards simply because I want to see your opinion in the hybrid of the role we currently have as students and educator…..Curious to read your posts!!!!

      • marineuconn Says:

        Hi Rosario! this is a good idea! I believe that the market will be the market: you won’t have your textbooks for free anyway…unless the government creates some kind of federal program to help students finance their higher-education, which would be great! However, the cost may lower. And it is better for the planet… Even when people have a Kindle, they still order and read regular books. I think that the book object won’t disappear because of online books. You get tired of reading on a screen after a while and people are just attached to books. I would prefer to have an online textbook because a textbook is often something you only use during one semester. However, if I find the book interesting for my research or necessary for my students to know about, I would probably buy the regular textbook. It is a bit like when you first take a book at the library, then renew the loan and end up buying it!
        Now it is your turn to tell me what you think!!

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hi Marine,

          I completely agree with your point of view and I loved the example you gave me with the book we all loan than renew it and then we buy. However, have two open question just to let us think all 1st question how often did this happen even to us? Is it that often to keep an entire market up?
          2nd we used to write paper letter right? How good was either to write but above all receive an hand written letter? The paper the handwriting sometimes even the idea of someone taking that time to hand write a letter to us it was exciting wasn’t it? do we still do it?
          I believe the book could be affected at some point also because inline would cost less somehow no ink and printing costs…..We’ll see but I believe that something will change.

    • soledadre Says:

      Hi! Just writing here because if not it would be too narrow!! I do not really know what is going to happen but I’ll try to build an hypothesis around it. I think online books/texts will be related to work and study whereas paper books will be seen more like an entertainment,something to pick up and go to a relaxed place, far away from your laptop screen. Right now, which so much information and books/articles to consult we cannot be buying books or going to the library to get them all the time, so online books will save not only money but also time. On the other hand, as Rosario said, it is so nice when you receive a handwriting letter! You feel special, unique, because we are not used to that anymore. I think something similar will happen to books, in paper they will get an special value, a personal one. Just an hypothesis that came into my mind when reading your posts!!

  3. soledadre Says:

    As we can infer from its title, in Actually Going to Class, for a Specific Course? How 20th-Century, Jeffrey Young argues about the need, or not, for an in-class learning. Data show how most students are willing to skip classes and just go there because of pop quizzes or attendance credits. Equally, different researches also show how students value quite more outside learning than in-class learning in college. According to Randy Bass, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, that does not mean that in-class courses will go away but that professors need to stop and re-think how student learn and how to use tech-infused teaching methods.
    Young gives some examples of “The Noncourse Vision” of this new era. In an experimental media-studies class, the teacher starts with a particular pop-quiz: students must anonymously answer how much time they devote preparing for class in a 0-10 scale. The average was 4/5 at the beginning but increased until 8 at the end of the course. The professor used it as a motivational technique to make students understand that “the class discussion only really works when everyone is prepared”. Moreover, he encouraged students’ collaboration (twitters, blogs within his “mother blog”, links, etc.) with the aim of creating within the students the willing of “let’s keep this going”.
    Another example that challenges the traditional course model can be seen at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where we find seven-week immersion projects with no lecture component: students work in teams on projects that benefit nonprofit organizations.
    At this point, the question that arises is, if the core activity is outside the class, why should students need to go to campus?
    Dale Stephens, a 19-year-old freshman at Hendrix College, agrees with that statement. He wants to create the “Uncollege” (he has already done it), a network full of tips and mentors that will help students (after paymet of $100 per month) to get the jobs they aim by learning and evaluating themselves.
    Similarly, Dekunle Somade, a senior at the University of Maryland, says that “there’s not really much need for teachers anymore,” since so much is online. Nevertheless, many college leaders are not afraid of being displaced since college still offers many possibilities. In this sense, John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, argues that “colleges themselves will continue to work because they bring smart, motivated students together with experts in a single community”.
    What do you think, how will education look like in the future: in-class education, out-class education, a mixture of both? With so many lectures of great experts being on the Internet, do you think that the figure of the teacher can become expendable?

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      Hi Sole,
      I found the article you have read very interesting and according to the model of the professor to motivate students in study to learn and attend for their interest rather than for attendance record which is actually marked. In this sense I would like to tell you all what has been my attitude from day one teaching Italian language here at UCONN.
      I simply said that we are here to learn all of us I underlined that we all were learning from each other from our mistakes so I was encouraging in speaking rather being worried to make mistakes in my class. Why should students be worried about making mistakes? Because they are afraid of the grade they get anxious about it, they actually come to classes and study to get a good grade. What I did was devoting few minute of my lesson to this concept and sais clearly that I like mistakes . Yes that’s true I love people who make mistakes they are trying to learn and show they are actually in the process of learning. I am teaching though and need to assess as well, can’t avoid it unfortunately, so what did I do to make them feel comfortable about it? I said that marks are not important to me as long as they follow what I say to learn the language by actively using it. Where? first of all in class with me and with their class mates. As a native speaker I am a very important resource of Italian culture as well and I constantly bring this up in comparing U.S.A. to Italy and asking also to students how this is in their country of origins so we have and intercultural discussion in Italian or better in their Italian (I have a beginning course) which mixes with English still but it’s more than acceptable when they try.
      We do (like all language course at Uconn) between one or two pop quizzes per week and the first two can’t deny (just to give you some numbers to be pragmatic) included a 20% a 33% and a 55%. Not very motivating either for me and for these students however I was fine. I showed myself very relaxed I asked what the reasons were (did not have the book, did not pay attention etc..) I said do not worry about the mark (once again) it’s not important to me as long as you are here to learn the language as long as you are motivated in doing so. I always repeat if you listen to me you will get there. I have learned 3 foreign languages so I always repeat them that I know how they feel sometimes what the difficulties are and in spite of this we will make it together. The student who got 30% did not believe me and dropped the class. She understood that I might not care about marks but she needed to study anyway because I still want my students to learn Italian. The other two: they did a better but still not good quiz the second time, a third one which was a good enough and the first test (exam) which is in percentage the double of the pop quizzes was one 86% and the other 90%. This is amazing to me because they started from very low mark and as soon as they understood I am focused on teaching them more than assessing them they got relaxed and started learning. Assessing is not a trauma anymore for my students as I am transparent and they know I am with them I am their fan however they know that they will always get what they earn.
      So in a nutshell: my students attend to practice the language, they study it at home because they have realized I do expect them to have read those pages and then I will be able to go through everything but there are questions of someone who studied and did not understand and questions about someone who did not open the book. Last but not least they want to learn Italian for different reasons a common one I gave them is that learning a language is learning a culture and when you do this you broaden your mind you improve yourself as a person who does not want to do that in an academic environment?
      To finish this long post (my apologies for that) is that a teacher is not a resource of information instead is a learning facilitator need to teach either the subject and the way to learn it which changes according to every student and maybe help them to find their way as, up to now, we do not have magic recipe yet!

      • soledadre Says:

        Maybe you have one! You really built a relaxed environment, free of fears,probably that’s why your students are learning so much, congrats!!

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hi Sole,
          Another important thing is TRANSPARENCY in assessing. They must know what we are looking for what we expect from them. By doing so they will know somehow before taking the assessment whether they will be above or under our expectations. Obviously at the undergraduate level they won’t be at the beginning able to really predict their mark (it’s also a matter of luck let’s say it)however they know their strong and weak points.

          To finish I have not a recipe at ALL. In my experience one of those three students who did very bad dropped the class and to me it’s good because she maybe realized that I wanted her to learn which means effort in studying and acquiring those skills I want to be reached during this course. Natural selection of courses 🙂 this is how I call it!

  4. rosariopollicino Says:

    The article Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course talks about how education in constantly changing in today’s world. The University of Stanford started living an artificial intelligence online course. After spreading the voice very well (advertisement of an event is essential to its success) this course had 58,000of people who wanted to follow it from all over the world and walks of life. What is interesting is that this course was given by two of the most experts in the field Prof. Peter Norving and Prof. Sebastian Thrun. This is very important as the instruction offered on this online course is actually of high quality and the audience must have understood the chance they were having and actually took it.
    However in this case the course was not given credit for a Stanford course which in my point of view is a great weakness because tend at the same time to underline that this course it’s not as good as a normal in presence taught at the University of Stamford. Students will receive a certificate of accomplishment and it is open to anyone from all walks of life and this is why there was a wide range of students from the high school up to the retirees.
    While I was reading this article I was very critical and was wondering whether this course was going to be just lecturing by simply recording and showing the lesson and how these two professors could assess so many students in terms of time and in terms to have an assessment which would not make them cheat as this is an online environment. Well, in the last part of the article the answer is clearly expressed they do show a recording but on the online lesson they actually use the lesson to discuss project in smaller groups. Do not personally know how many smaller groups they would create and of how many members however the idea is excellent to me. For assessing students they will use the technology obviously and in particular some system running in the Amazon (not too sure what it is though), but they have the idea the most important one to personalize the assessment to avoid cheating.
    These professors and their collaborators are actually experimenting this way of bringing education wherever is not easy to reach with normal systems and are actually looking forward to see the University expanding towards this new way of educating. Now I ask you, my dear colleagues, as students and as educators strength and weaknesses you see in this new way of education what you like and what you don’t like? Think also about the reading we prepared for yesterday the one related the costs link to nowadays’ University this as this could be another perspective to analyze this article.

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Rosario,

      Thank you for the summary. It looks like a very interesting article. While I was reading the first part of your summary, I was very skeptical. It proved my general reticence about the online courses. However, the activities they did looks fine, too. As a TA who worked at an online class, I do think it is great. Students have access to it every time and it is possible to answer their questions quicker than a usual classroom setting. However, it made sense because these students who were taking the online class were also taking traditional classes at the same time. And it was not an easy course, it had the same requirements of a regular class. My doubts about online classes increase in a situation where they enroll 58,000 students. Whatever methods they use, I do not think that it is possible to create a good collaborative learning environment. I think we should use online classes and other technological methods/tools so as to make the learning better, to create a more individual learning environment and to access them better.

  5. rosariopollicino Says:

    Hi Eda,
    to be honest I believe online courses can be created independently from any normal courses in presence it’s only matter of organization and create a perfect balance between synchronous and asynchronous lessons. What do I mean? there are topics in any subject which is better to have a direct feedback with the teacher while other (most of the other) especially at the graduate level can definitely be treated on a asynchronous basis. Feedback is always provides to our students but bot on a daily basis as it is not needed at our level really.
    An easy example in order to start to use this technology could be (tell me what you think) to use the asynchronous sessions to do our independent studies program. I believe this would be perfect either for the student and for the professor. I would not mind to be a guinea pig for this independent study online program. Needless to say I am talking about any subject but as a foreign language teacher it could work to perfectly and maybe we, as uconn instructors, could offer olessons to people who is not able to attend for a wide serious different matters.
    58,000 students is a lot I am with you i have never experienced anything like that either personally or simply heard of it however, the main problem I believe is bigger the classroom is and less interactive it becomes. If interactivity is important in normal face to face classes i am telling you that for online classes it becomes essential.

  6. Barbara Says:

    We’re grappling with some interesting challenges and opportunities in education and your conversations and questions here touch on some key themes. If textbooks become increasingly available online, what format will they take? In addition to including multimedia, will/could/should they also allow for student sharing, commenting, and collaboration, not only within courses but beyond institutional boundaries? How do our current face-to-face courses that enroll up to 400 students provide for individualized and collaborative learning experiences? What, if anything, can we learn from online courses in terms of student motivation and engagement with the content, their peers and experts? Are we looking at incremental changes in the way we teach and learn or are we witnessing transformational changes? Should we be concerned, excited or both?

    • soledadre Says:

      Wow, so many questions, I think right know I am concerned! So many things to investigate! About the textbook issue, I think they will allow multimedia presentation of theory (reading, listening, watching) and activities that can be checked instantaneously (the way of the corrections may be explicit or not); moreover, in the same way as online video games, I’m sure books will also allow for interactions between students. They could also provide an environment where students/teachers keep in contact, share knowledge and learn from each other (with your online book, get a blog for free!!). For some of them, this environment could become a recurring place when looking for resources, a place where they could go on contributing with new questions and new discoveries. In my opinion, from online courses we can learn how the student can become the teacher, this idea of sharing what we know, that motivating feeling of becoming the expert at some point.

  7. loisramirez Says:

    In the article Teaching in Social and Technological Networks by George Siemens the idea of applying new technologies to teaching techniques is evaluated. Siemens states that the teacher has several jobs within a classroom, rather than regurgitating information in an “know-it-all” manner, the teacher is actually an “expert learner”. This “expert learner” serving a filter since he/she knows what information is necessary and which information is not necessary during the learning process. According to Siemens these are the roles of a teacher in a modern classroom.
    Starting with the idea of serving as an amplifier, the teacher has technologies such a twitter to branch on single idea/thought/article to not only his students but his/her student’s followers and so on. Twitter can extend a discussion beyond a classroom setting and maybe you might be able to reach other people with the same interests.
    As a curator the teacher finds the appropriate way to make the information being taught become interesting, allowing students to explore it in a more comfortable setting.
    Siemens says that the concept of the “Aggregator” has not being as developed as it could be, maybe because instead of serving a purpose before the class starts, the aggregator is used at its best after the class has started. As a model the teacher allows the student to learn certain traits that cannot be learned by just reading a book, but rather watching the teacher in action.
    Since the teacher cannot be physically present in a student’s life in 24/7, Siemens discusses the importance of a an online presence, not only with the teacher but connecting with other educators, this way the student can access this information whenever and wherever and have an active learning experience (not based solely on a classroom environment).
    The teacher helps to guide the student, but as we all know, it is up to the student to want to learn the new material, the student applies the previous knowledge into the new material in order to make sense of the material being put on display by their “curator”. As Siemens said, there is a lot of catching up to do, the teaching process has lagged behind the new technologies, making the way that we teach almost obsolete. So why not make use of the new technologies out there and help ourselves help the students in the learning process?


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