Tuesday, October 2, 2012

BlendKit, Week 2 - Initial Thoughts

Yesterday I was reading the materials for Week 2 of BlenkKit, which are adapted from Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning by George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger†.  While the entire reading was quite interesting, what I latched onto were the roles of the educator in this chapter which consisted of:
  • Atelier Learning (Seely Brown, 2006)
  • Network Administrator (Fisher, nd)
  • Concierge Learning (Bonk, 2007)
  • Curatorial Learning (Siemens, 2007)
From the experiences I've had in my own personal background I can say that Atelier Learning and Curatorial Learning are what appeal to me as roles for an educator, not separate, but some combination of both.  Think of a museum and an a master artist's workshop. An apprentice might be in an artist's workshop (atelier), but at the same time, some curated work needs to be available for the apprentice to reference and learn from. This way you have some examples but you are not constrained by them.

This Week's questions to ponder also had me churning the mental cogs:

  • Is there value in student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction in all courses regardless of discipline?
  • What role does interaction play in courses in which the emphasis is on declarative knowledge (e.g., introductory “survey” courses at the lower-division undergraduate level) or, similarly, in courses that cultivate procedural knowledge (e.g., technical courses requiring the working of problem sets)?
  • As you consider designing a blended learning course, what kinds of interactions can you envision occurring face-to-face, and how might you use the online environment for interactions?
  • What opportunities are there for you to explore different instructional strategies in the blended course than you have in the past?
  • What factors might limit the feasibility of robust interaction face-to-face or online? 
I personally think that there is immense value in both student-student and instructor-student interactions regardless of the discipline.  The student-student interactions might feel questionable in a science and math context where the students might be seen as not having much to contribute to the subject matter, however they can contribute to tell other students how they worked out a certain problem. Thus students become resources to fellow students in shedding light in how they think about problem solving in a particular discipline, and this may be helpful.

Declarative knowledge is all fine and good, but when it comes down to it, knowledge that is disconnected easily gets misplaced (i.e. forgotten).  Thus, I think that it is helpful to enlist the help of fellow students to help create places for that declarative knowledge to latch onto so that it is not forgotten by the learner, so that it can be put to good use later on (or right away!).

I think the fact that blended learning gives students a bit more time to ponder things and post responses (or questions!) to them means that learners can have a space where they can work out processes, share information, and learn from each other, without having to rush to put in their 2c in that class session that meets once a week for 3 hours. Who knows, the guy in the last seat of the last row who barely speaks in class may have things to say that will benefit all.  Also, because people aren't competing about who's going to jump into the conversation after the current speaker stops talking, means that students will be a bit more mindful about what their peers are actually saying :-)

One last word about FERPA‡. In the readings for this week, as the authors write, the space doesn't really permit to go too much into the nuances of FERPA. The one thing, from my own personal lived experiences, is that FERPA is like the academic boogie-man, or an instrument that people use to not do something that involved technology.  If you are interested in doing something with technology, just make sure that you don't post your student's grades, email or other contact information in a public forum otherwise you will definitely get in trouble FERPA-wise.  If you are

† small note, seems like the link is dead on the BlendKit2012 site, so for the time being google it :-)

‡ Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
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