Learning we do all the time, why should a place called school have a privilege here? Social media and interaction among peers provide equal or even better opportunities for learning (1) . Isn’t it time to tear down the walls between school and every day learning; to get rid of the distinction between formal and informal learning (2)? Those in favor of a division and do want to safeguard school as a predominant place of learning argue that we need to focus on intended goals, not causal results; that teacher support is essential to guide the learner; and that individual accountability is essential to reach high stake outcomes. Since schools have been with us for such a long time one is tempted to believe that (formal) learning should be dealt with in schools preferably. But need that be? Questioning this produces all kinds of defense walls: what kind of certification will we have?; who determines content?; who will teach?; or how can we deal with variety in outcomes? The divides have been cultivated for ages, so it seems. Fusing both views, however, could still be an option.
At least if we follow the model outlined in an article advocating a rapprochement of learning attributes of both formal and informal learning. The argument is that with the increased use of social media we have created new opportunities for learning. The social media attributes of learning are found in: highly connected interaction, self-determined and peer influenced learning, with user generated content, under network support, and having an open ended evaluation.
A symbiosis is offered on two views of learning. However fusing of attributes may not be at all sufficient to create a living in harmony. Ultimately, with the introduction of social media in education, we have to (re)define the position of school, and the nature of learning in schools. In an era of dense social communication and ease of access to get all kinds of content knowledge (say The Internet) the claimed position of schools is at issue (3). Reconceptualizing its position may designate promising tasks for the establishment in the social media era. It can be a resource and expertise center, a certification institute, a coaching or counseling agency, a practice facility, a communication spot, and a lot more.
Christine Greenhow & Cathy Lewin (2016) Social media and education:reconceptualizing the boundaries of formal and informal learning, Learning, Media andTechnology, 41:1, 6-30, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1064954 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2015.1064954
Imagine yourself in a fantastic world, a Neverland or Wonderland for a short moment to be either a Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland (up to you). You picture yourself as either not wanting to grow up or instead as eager to discover new realms. How then would you go about documenting and reporting your journey? What would you note down and what discard, what would be grasped as noteworthy and what left aside. Peters’ collected evidence probably would look very different from Alice’s. Let’s take Peter’s listing for example. No doubt it will reveal dangers encountered, connecting with friends, and talking a lot about plans to consider. Adventurous Alice’s list however would tell about riddles, questions, and astonishments about ever changing environments. Admitted, Neverland is not the same world as Wonderland; so, what should be noted would differ but as a learning journey the trajectory of Peter and Alice would completely diverge. In the classroom world we also ask learners to pen down their learning trajectories in so called portfolios; in the digital classroom of course in e-portfolios. They are collections of evidence (1), gathered preferably in a self-determined way. What report do they give?
A study conducted in Vietnam investigated student portfolio use over a period of time and effects on motivation and self-regulation. Effects were positive, as often noted, but more of interest is portfolio use itself. What is striking is the rise of the evaluative activity of students (checking whether they did well according to their own standard) and the lowering of acceptance of feedback (listening to others). Portfolio use was for only 3% of the time linked with discussion about content with others (peers, teachers).
One might wonder: a classroom world with many Peters’ and Alices’ out there on their own? Admitted, portfolios are personal documents but intended for being used as a learning tool that will cover a shared domain of content and curriculum. One might add emphatically; the whole purpose of the portfolio is making individual learning accomplishments visible and tangible and definitely to be shared, and discussed (Why otherwise make one). In that respect the turn of a learning trajectory over time towards a private, closed experience is unfitting. Moereover, if learning is a travel both Peter and Alice would need a guide.
Lap Trung Nguyen & Mitsuru Ikeda , The effects of ePortfolio-based learning model on student selfregulated learning Active Learning in Higher Education2015, Vol. 16(3) 197–209
sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1469787415589532
Amazing how many great web applications are available on the Internet, free and for the taking, even on education! Soon in May the 20th Webby Awards (1) will be granted. The Webby’s are a kind of Internet Oscars, honoring the best of exciting web tools on social media, online video, web sites and the like. The content cover a wide range (from business to art design to community services). Education is also among them but, to say it mildly, circumscribed. Nevertheless great ones; See referencing section below (2). We need great web tools that are educational to provide online curriculum or education services to capture our students’ attention who are far more ahead in online activity than thought of by educationalists. A prestigious prize on developing education web tools, something with a snappy label, say “Educy Award” would certainly put it on the ‘map’. But let us flip the argument here. Great tools must be used, of course. And therein lies a problem.
A study on teacher education students’ deployment and use of web 2.0 tools during their internship revealed that their positive intentions were restricted by lack of resources at the teaching site, unwillingness of mentor teachers, and uneasiness to try out new tools in the classroom. Nevertheless, most of the students persevered in introducing web applications in the classroom.
Innovations will find their way somehow. But a catalyst, like some kind of credit, could speed up things. So, to move student teachers from intention to action an honoring, issued by the teacher education institute, could support them as early adopters. They set things in motion. Web applications take effect by the number of their users. VSCO, Flipagram or Blendle grow because of them. A catalyst in the process could make things work more easily; in education too.
An investigation of the factors that influence preservice teachers’ intentions and integration of Web 2.0 tools by Ayesha Sadaf, Timothy J. Newby & Peggy A. Ertmer. In: Education Tech Research Dev (2016) 64:37–64. Springer Publishers DOI 10.1007/s11423-015-9410-9.
- http://mathigon.org/ ; https://flipagram.com
Bright ideas that never were realized; stunning inventions that never left the drawing table, there are numerous ingenious projects that did not make it (1). Take the portable record player, the iron that could be tilted a little so it slides easily around shirt buttons, or even the hovercraft. They were designed and crafted to make life more easy, but never became handy. Fortunately there is no lack of bright ideas considering the popularity of Great Idea TV Shows (2). Unfortunate however is the failed attempt to create a solution to a recognized problem (referring to the examples above): listening to music everywhere, ironing soleplates that really are fit for ironing a shirt; and using air as a transportation medium. The world of education is no different. Numerous bright ideas (3) but hardly implemented successfully (and this is not because of sturdy management and strict school regulations). What to think of: making classroom walls of glass to create sense of openness; use of smartphones in the classroom as a learning device; or don’t require students to come to school. These examples may be a little too far off. But there are more appealing ideas that still, may be unexpectedly, are not working as they should. Luckily we have research that can prove their wrongdoing.
A study on use of podcasts in teaching has investigated the outcome effects on student learning. Podcasts are a popular device grabbed by educationalist to promote the digital world into the classroom. Podcasts are lecture video recordings to be studied afterwards by students to rehearse and go over the content of the lesson in their own way. Great idea. However, according to the study, it did not work, at least as far as the exams results are concerned. Pity for the idea.
Why is that? The idea was that the pace of the lesson is may be too fast and one-off for (some) students to get the gist. So when given a chance to reiteration it would make it easier for students to learn. Interesting detail is that female and Asian students made use of podcasts more often. There are many reasons why the idea did not work. For instance: it takes time to go over the lesson video recording again, better study instead. Or reviewing what has been taught does not necessarily help to understand better; questioning would be better. More importantly: offering lesson content easier does not necessary mean it is assimilated intelligently.
Adrienne E. Williams, Nancy M. Aguilar-Roca, Diane K. O’Dowd (2016) Lecture capture podcasts: differential student use and performance in a large introductory course . Education Tech Research Dev (2016) 64:1–12 By Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015
“All knowledge begins with the senses, and proceeds then to understanding…” Kant said that (Critique of Pure Reason (1781; 1787)(1). At that time it was a revelation. It merged combatting views on learning and understanding. But we still do not fully grasp the meaning, let alone the implications of that statement. Kant added a little extra to the statement that makes it even tougher: “ …and ends with reason”. Here is, comprised in one sentence, what energizes instruction, although admitted, a bit masked by the clouds high up the philosophical mountain. If we start at the foot of the mountain (our senses) the statement has much to do with how we teach our students and how students come to know the essentials of what they are supposed to learn. Scholastic approaches (originating in the Middle Ages – 2) govern still much of what we do in education. i.e., to teach the structural first as a solid layer of elementals and then trickle down to the details. We aim for coherence; i.e., it is about understanding, isn’t it? Still, it may not be the best way to operate.
In a study which used games to teach fundamental concepts in mechanics another view was exposed. The game set-up allowed for a searching and exploring behavior to make provisional steps and pilot approaches to get to experience mechanics laws. It was a fragmentary and piece-meal route to make sense of a subject. The authors speak of getting ‘a sense of mechanism’. i.e, actively and gradually dealing with the real world of objects to understand.
Knowledge we already have can block new understanding. We are trapped in our own ‘theories’ and often well-articulated notions about something. Learning then first becomes to have to discard the old. The alternate way is to build understandings from the case, the setting, the context that you can manipulate, or experiment with to gain gradually and continuously ideas of what it entails what you are learning. It is a kind of organic, distributive making sense of things. Knowledge comes in pieces (3).
Kant would smile, probably; and add: “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind”. Intricate, it is.
Pratim Sengupta, Kara D. Krinks & Douglas B. Clark (2015): Learning to Deflect: Conceptual Change in Physics During Digital Game Play, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 24:4, 638-674,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2015.1082912
Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1050-8406 print / 1532-7809 online
Gaming is a serious business. This is not to refer to the international contests for gamers to win considerable prize money or the huge communities in game play and -development (1). Gaming is not for geeks anymore; it has grown into a widespread, common leisure activity for all to participate in. Actually, it is more than a way to pass the time, or get into contacts with other gamers, for instance through massively multiplayer online role-playing games, MMORPG’s (1). Above all, it is to enter a world of meaning giving and self-discovery. In interaction with a game play a lot is learned about oneself: on handling stress, persistence, ability, shrewdness, and so forth. Almost the real thing, so it would seem, but is it? We are passed the debate on whether gaming can be educative; it is (2) . In fact, gaming can be considered as an activity in identity formation. By creating virtual self’s, gaming opens up ways to reflect about oneself and discover insights in journeys undertaken through the quests offered in a game. As such it is a practice of becoming a person.
An interesting article discusses the issue whether gaming blurs the distinction between the inside and outside, between control in gaming and agency in reality. We all are aware of frightening occurrences that reach us through the news where such a distinction has failed, and an isolated person committed a act of cruelty (3). The position paper proposed we welcome the digital opportunity of gaming to discover identity and “the transformative power of digital agency and production, the heightened consciousness of human relationality, and the ritualized and reflective practice of gaming”.
Gaming is here to stay, gaining in reality resemblance. The interaction between a gamer and virtual contexts offered increasingly will become more sophisticated. But that does not mean the gamer will become a more moral, reflective, relational person or have a “polyphonic digital identity” (as mentioned in article). The thing with games is that they provide contexts (“worlds”) to play in, but no contesting of (moral) choices made. There is no ‘other’ as a real person to question and challenge game experiences. A gamer remains a tragic hero. It is not like a playground at the schoolyard where there is interactional modification (by peers or supervision). It would be great to add that to game play.
This article: Karen-Marie Yust (2015) Digital play as a spiritually formative activity, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 20:2, 129-138, DOI:10.1080/1364436X.2015.1055459
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1364436X.2015.1055459
Learning can be faked. Does not everyone recall at least one awkward moment when you said that everything was understood, clear, and copied but in fact it was not? Not all learning is straightforward or productive from the start. One needs time to grasp the gist of things, and people differ in this respect. When all learning must be visible and laid open for evaluation, i.e., be explicit, few of us would dare to explore, try out, and ask for help. We simply need the experience of probing (1).
The study cited looks at organizational places where learning can be done informally and casually. The authors provide us with a handy tool (a matrix) to identify spots that give rise to learning achievements. They mention three processes that govern these spots: reflection, sharing, and being innovate.
Considering these processes more closely reveals that in fact they are making the informal explicit – the upper right corner of my diagram. And that is fine; it is a prominent way of learning (2). The tool offered in the article would also apply, I guess, for the lower left corner: for instance, in making symposia resourceful.
But let us not forget there are more wonderful spots at which learning occurs (the non-shaded areas for instance). I would plead for learning as a play-ground – the upper left(3): to discover, walk around, inquire, and seek for emerging understandings. Being able to appreciate that the end-results can be put on hold (for a while) could add much to the value learning has for all of us.
Organisational learning as an emerging process: The generative role of digital tools in informal learning practices by Stefano Za, Paolo Spagnoletti and Andrea North-Samardzic
British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol 45, No 6, 2014, 1023–1035