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Valuing “Why”

This week’s readings were timely and gave me a great opportunity to reflect n recent experiences with Wikipedia, readings, workshops, assignments, and classroom discussions: It was like a moment of experience synthesis  where all roads seemed to come together.

Each of this week’s authors reinforced the value of using technological tools for the purpose of creating active learning environments.

Barotn’s suggestion that  “The key pedagogical benefit wikis offer is epistemological. Wikis demonstrate, in a clear and obvious fashion, how knowledge is a function of communities engaged in ongoing discourse.”

The emphasis on communal learning and learning through contribution is just what my recent experience with wiki amounts to: In journeying through wiki-etiquette, though frustrated at times, I realize that a whole world of learning has opened up for me. I in turn look forward to bringing this type of experience into my classrooms. I happen to whole-heartedly agree with Aviv that, “…we should teach methodology, not technology. We should value the “why” over the “how” This is particularly real for me as I flex my technology muscle in the workshops and do my best to take in the new languages and ways of imaging. It is not enough to learn today’s tools; the focus should be on an appreciation of the process.

The thing is, a concern about getting this method spread wide persists in my mind. How can we guarantee the democratic distribution of these democratizing tools? How can we sure-up the technologically less inclined to succeed with the reality of having to learn the new languages and technologies if this truly is the direction that our formal education will follow?

Posted in Motivations.

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4 Responses

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  1. Christina says

    I’ve been thinking about how radical a possibility technology can have, but I keep going back to one of the earlier posts we read on the CUNY BA. I don’t think we talked about in class but it has been on my mind since then. I thought about it a lot in thinking about the likely white men exerting privilege on wikipedia and also when trying to reconcile the radical liberating aspects of using online technology in the class with the aspects that may mask privilege. This is also something that came up at a facilitation training on direct democracy that I went to the other day. At OWS they had a hand signal that technically anybody could use to do a direct response rather than waiting in line/stack to talk. But they realized that only white men were using that hand signal where others may not have felt so empowered to not wait in line to talk, so they had to take back the signal from use. In a hybrid class this might be something that is easier to manage, but online I think this requires more thought.
    I wonder if we might think of how to measure the privilege of avatars?

  2. Naomi Barrettara says

    Awesome post Janice, thank you! I too (throughout this course especially) have become more and more pre-occupied with the question of “how do we equip students with these new technological skills, so they can be most successful in this new reality of interactive technology”? and this question usually comes right after my own moment of self-doubt, where I think, “there is still so much to learn, how will I ever be competant with all of this?
    There is a big difference, as we are all learning, in simply consuming technology and using services (like email, facebook, etc.) and actually understanding how it works, be able to build things yourself (like contributing to wikipedia, or learning to write some HTML) and be comfortable with constantly switching between different methods of learning and communication in an online enviornment. Even though we are constantly told that this next generation of children is the “digital” one, learning to work with technology on a deeper level is a whole other area of “expertise” or skill sets that people are having to nurture in addition to their other interests. Although part of the conclusion I have come to is that interacting with technology should be integrated into a child’s learning from the very beginning, just like reading and writing, so that the processes which take so much time for me to learn and adapt to become natural to them – it will be a VERY long time before “computer/technological literacy” is as common as reading and writing (especially when we consider questions of access and priviledge, as we have discussed in class). And between the present time and this utopian future (where everyone has internet access all the time, everyone can write code, methods of interactive learning become more standardized, the use of wikis, blogs, and other online discussion and writing platforms are commonplace for all students), we need to learn to use these tehcnologies ourselves, integrate them successfully into our classroom, and help our students be confident in the use of this technology as well – all with the goal of maximum learning benefit. Meiling’s comment reminded me that maybe we don’t have to master the use of the technology first before using it and integrating it into our classrooms – maybe we need to focus on being aware of what technological iniatives and possibilities are out there, understand their value and how it might benefit a learning process, and embark on a learning adventure together WITH students.

  3. meiling says

    Janice, you raise some great questions here, “core” issues really, to the whole “technology and pedagogy” topic! The fact that there is no “standard” yet (or perhaps ever?) for online collaborative learning makes it even more creative/demanding on the teacher to see what works and doesn’t.
    I also ound it interesting while reading two other articles on the website (one on ethnography and the other on mind-mapping) that in both cases, there were time when the technology was not working or was intimidating for the students–and these are undergrads who are the so-called newest digital generation. This included feeling weirded out on Second Life and also just not responding or understanding how to post on blogs at all. In both cases the professor had to change course. I find this fascinating but it also points to the new territory we are all venturing into right now–whether “teacher” or “student” we are all learning from the experiences of technological pedagogy.

  4. Hadassah Damien says

    Good question, Janice: I’m not certain there’s ever been a democratic distribution of any applied pedagogy in the US [but I’m really wanting to be proven wrong] and as much as I constantly want to bring up class, access and privilege, I wonder if that’s the right question to be asking. To turn this question around a bit, I really appreciate that the inclusion and formalizing of technical learning *is* making space for learners who are less enthusiastic or adept [or “able”] verbally to have opportunities to try and to succeed in the language of writing and/or code; just another angle of skill distribution/democratization to think about.

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