Thursday, 29 August 2013

#digilit Connecting for learning

Image c/o Mark Hawksey

I am currently wrestling with the planning for my first year module on Digital Literacy (as it is fast becoming) and I am stuck with a dilemma about blogging.

I want to convince students that blogging is A GOOD THING in and of itself - to help them reflect on their learning. But without an incentive (i.e. grades, or at least sweeties) it feels to me unlikely that they will buy this.

I am also suggesting that blogs can be a rich source of service user experience (I teach on a health and social care course) alongside more academic texts, and this I think will be of use to them.

So if I ask them to blog but never read their blogs or offer feedback they will rightly ask "why should I?". And if I do start down that road with 100+ students, have I realistically got the time to invest in such an activity? (er, "NO" is the correct answer to that)

Then this morning I happened on a Tweet from @NikPeachey sharing a link to this MindShift blog piece on the importance of connection:

One common wrinkle with the Donate step in Schneiderman’s framework is that many teachers and students simply launch their products onto the Internet, and most of the time they land like a tree falling in an empty forest. In the best learning environments, sharing work doesn’t just mean posting on the Internet; it means building connections with a wider community, so that sharing becomes part of a set of relationships and patterns of exchange. Mobile computing devices let students take those connections with them wherever they go.
(How Tablets Can Enable Meaningful Connections for Students and Teachers By Justin Reich and Beth Holland)

I don't have the perfect solution as yet, but I do think that the connecting and developing a network bit is what I am really after rather than getting students to write a blog solely with the aim of earning brownie points.

Reich and Holland recommend Twitter as a means of connection:

 a collaboratively produced stream of tweets from students can become a running record of classroom life through pictures, text, questions, and conversations. It also provides a mechanism for modeling the connections that we hope young students will make as they progress in their education.

This fits better with the idea I have already had of encouraging students to work in groups and post outcomes using tweets and hashtags. If I add to this an encouragement to microblog using Twitter (or tweet links to longer published blog posts) AND develop a PLN (personal learning network) on the same platform, this could start to look like a plan.....

The serendipity element of Twitter which brought this tweet into my consciousness this morning is the very thing I want to convince students about. The stuff people share has a direct impact on my practice, practically every time I open up Twitter. And I know from retweets, replies and post views that sharing my own struggles and discoveries has some impact on others. This feedback loop is what keeps me motivated to go on learning, developing, sharing.

1 comment:

  1. Serendipity at work today for sure, Jane, with me finding your post as I get my own module together for the coming year! As I was reading your post I was thinking just what you went on to mention midway through -- it's important to invite students to consider their online presence, to connect with others (Twitter is a great way to do this), and to begin building their own PLNs. This is great groundwork for sharing and reflective blogging.

    I've learned that it's much more valuable to create opportunities for students to experience the "thinning of the walls" of the classroom rather than simply talking *about* this. Once students experience the fact that their/our learning activities in open online spaces have an audience, this becomes a powerful motivation for creating and openly sharing authentic work. Not all students will embrace this, but many will.

    I participated in the eAssessment Scotland conferende in Dundee last week and there were many wonderful conversations about this. If you haven't already, you might check out the links on the conference website. My session links (with some examples) are here: Best of luck & I'd love to keep in touch about this -- sounds like our modules are similar.