Online Networking in Courses
These are my notes from the presentation MySpace is not YourSpace: The Promise and Pitfalls of Online Social Networking at the Conference for Distance Learning and Teaching last week. The presenters were Alan Foley and Hal Meeks.The slides from the presentation are available as a pdf. Late Update: You can get the audio with the slides now as well.
Two ideas in particular from this presentation really struck me:
- Online can be great. Several presenters, including the first keynote speaker, mentioned the idea that we don’t have to ask any more whether online can be “as good as” face-to-face learning because the research shows that it’s pedagogy and teaching methods, not technology, that influences learning. Alan made a great point though; let’s not just settle for online being “as good as” face-to-face&emdash;let’s figure out how to use technology to create teaching methods that wouldn’t be possible face-to-face so that online is great learning.
- Our technologies structure our learning. A typical LMS encourages structuring learning in one way (with units and discussion boards and read-write-reflect). Blogs and wikis encourage a different kind of structure, but it is still a structure and we should be conscious of that.
Here’s the notes from the presentation (my side comments in italics):
Not a how to presentation, although there is some of that
How social networking tools can capture possibilities in distance education
Construct and reconstruct the teaching and learning environment
No significant difference research—we should be striving for a better experience, not just equal, with online learning (I love this idea—this is what I want too!)
Flickr for rapid sharing of content—visual journal of events
World of Warcraft as social construct
- interact with other players
MySpace—showed a band
Do they fit in a learning environment?
- simple to publish
- accessibility (both 508 and other—anyone can play)
Questions to ask:
- Are online systems “just as good”?
- Does it have to accomplish the same goals?
- What can we learn?
Rethinking teaching for online
Standard teaching models are based on scientific practices
Problems involving IDs in creating games—game designers say IDs make games not fun
IDs do systematic and predictable—not everything can be predictable—social constructs aren’t predictable. Models don’t consider all social and cultural aspects.
“Teaching systems assume [certain types of] student learning interactions”
How students and teachers interact
Term used to be distance education b/c it was about space and geography
Now more about online education—about the tools, not the distance b/c lots of online students are local
“Tools define interaction”
- If you have a test, you emphasize timing and one right answer
Online courseware encourages certain types of learning styles and objectives
Not as good at “unquantifiable learning”
Technology shapes learning spaces
PowerPoint shapes content
Cognitive Style of PowerPoint (pamphlet, not a book) Edward Tufte
Tufte concludes that PPT is bad
David Byrne thinks there is potential for exploration and ways of using tools
We have a legacy in physical classrooms from old desks in rows—maybe online lets us get away from that old legacy and create new practice (nice idea)
The medium molds the messages
Roles in e-learning are often static and defined. Chat forums outside of course settings don’t have same hierarchy, more dynamic. Possible to create richer interactions between students and faculty. They say even an LMS can be used in exciting ways.
Showed using del.icio.us with a CMS and blogs for a course. Students preferred using blogs; Alan aggregated feeds to keep track. Said it was harder for him but students were more engaged.
“Online social constructs are disruptive both pedagogically and conceptually.”
Walter Benjamin “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”—how art is affected by ability to reproduce through lithographs and photographs
Need for proximity—part of why SL interest in online education
SL is comfortable for educators b/c they can create a traditional classroom in a virtual environment—it feels more real than LMS
When we translate physical places into virtual places, they are not the same thing—they are transformed. If you try to enforce rules to make it like the “real world,” you will be disappointed—it isn’t the “real world.” It doesn’t have the same rules—and it shouldn’t.
How do we fulfill the promise of not as good as, but superior?
Blogs inside an LMS isn’t necessarily the same—maybe it needs to be out in the world
One of the problems with the assumption of the net gen is that everyone has that access and experience, and that isn’t true.
Other literacies—textual and visual literacies
YouTube—yes, it’s a video which is visual, but all the commentary and everything around it is text—social construct
Students can act as critics of YouTube even if they aren’t creating videos—creating videos isn’t the only way to use YouTube
Social notetaking—students in a big lecture post in a wiki to share with others
LMS can house and centralize course materials even using all the external stuff
Privacy is still a concern—even bigger for K-12
LMS creates a box for content—so does Facebook. It isn’t that one is good and the other bad, it’s recognizing that these constructs shape what we do and thinking about the pedagogy that we can use.
Update: I’ve been thinking more about this topic and have written more in a new post: Facebook as LMS?
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