Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

Learning conversations

Posted on: October 30, 2012

ImageOne of the big plus points of being a part of the ICTEx group for me, is that I’ve spent a lot more time having conversations with a very much wider and different groups of people and individuals. Whatever the content, the conversations always involve learning. Learning either for me, them or both. About different types of learning. Sometimes, not even realising that its learning we’re conversing about.

All this got me thinking about the use of the term ‘social learning’. Is this something new, just because we’ve started talking about it? Of course not. Social learning is an entirely natural state of affairs, thats been with us since we first started to communicate with each other. Its the way young babies learn about the world around them, about language, and about emotions. That we’ve started using social media to learn from each other is just a shift of the praxis of social learning. A cultural shift, nevertheless, which is slowly being mirrored in more formal learning environments like schools!

Winston Churchill (I think) said “I had a wonderful education, interrupted only by my school-days”. By this, I think, he was alluding to the power of social learning. Now, in the twenty first century, we’re mashing up, or at least blurring the boundaries between formal and social learning. managed learning environments are attempting to use this cultural shift to meld school education to social learning. Its having the effect of spreading education out in a messy blob which spreads out over all areas of our lives. Parents are being drawn in, teachers increasingly communicate electronically with both pupils and parents and colleagues, not just in their place of work, but nationally and world-wide. This messy blob is full of interconnected communities of practice all collaborating to create content which they share.

Do we really need to bring order to this messy blob by creating borders past which it cannot spread out further, or should we be in the business of smoothing its path as it spreads out ever further? This still perplexes me as I move ever deeper into the #GlowPlus work streams.I still find myself asking the question, do we need another Glow? or should we just let individuals add to the messy blurb by using the tools they prefer or get excited about, freeing up the interweb to facilitate this. Would this be true creative subversion?

The constant blurring-redefinition-re blurring of the learning environment is leading us, inevitably I think, to a situation when we are going to have to ask what the point of school;that is, formal 9-4 school. Is the messy blurb going to advance over our cosy ordered school set-up, breaking it up and dragging it out in many different directions?

I hope so! here’s to the messy blob, and here’s to the tools and individuals who are creatively subverting the world of formal education, nearly to the point of no return.

1 Response to "Learning conversations"

Hi Jaye,
I am with you on the point in a previous post about the problem with an ever shifting glow, hard to invest in something that may not be around for long.
Personally I’d be happy in a messy blob picking and choosing tools in a subversive manner, so would many other ict literate teachers.
But the goodness that glow brought was it got teachers who steered clear of ict into using it. This was due to the huge investment in training glow brought and the pressure the race to get all LAs involved brought at all levels.

There are still, imo, 2 stumbling blocks to widespread use of ict.
1. teacher willingness/confidence/belief
2. access to hardware.
If teachers are to have the confidence to use open online tools, in these days of increasing worry about data-protection, they need permission from above. I think a direct steer from the government.
If BYOD is going to help solve the hardware problem (bringing perhaps a few problems for teachers with it) again this needs a clear steer from government.

To do without glow it needs to be clear that there is an understanding that using the open web occasionally brings problems and that these are not disasters. If a child sees/posts something inappropriate it is not a
crime on their or their teachers part but a learning opportunity.

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