I came across this tweet today and thought I would share some thoughts before the actual chat. Specifically, I thought I would offer some perspective around the phrase, reclaiming conversation in a digital age.
How students converse reveals a lot about how they currently learn and the potential the student has to learn in the future. Students who only interact with classmates within their own class are likely to have a very different learning experience than if those same students had opportunities to interact with others outside the classroom: civic leaders, students from other schools, etc. Engaging students directly with the global society also allows the forming of relationships that can offer potential learning opportunities that extend beyond the objectives of the course. Technologies have certainly afforded opportunities to interact differently than in the past, which underlines basically what one ends up learning.
To the student, the conversation matters to the degree the interlocutors end up contributing to the advancement of the student´s learning. Through an iterative and reciprocal process, the student should offer something to the conversation (i.e., contribute to the learning of others) and should get something in return (i.e., learn something from others). Both need to occur if student learning is to develop over time. Certainly technology can facilitate this process, but it can only bring a speech community together. What matters? Who the speakers are, how the instructor brings these speakers together, and which speakers are brought together in the first place.
Reclaiming what exactly?
Reclaiming conversation… I am trying to conceptualize what or how the act of conversing needs to be reclaimed. I see two different possibilities:
1) The conversation does not exist and should be cultivated into something it has never been before, or
2) The conversation exists but not in some ideal form, which needs to be changed.
Additionally, who´s doing the reclaiming? Students… instructors… administrators… parents? Who´s controlling the conversation in a way that is less than ideal? Students… instructors… administrators… parents… society?
Based on similar discussions in the past, I anticipate that the discourse around reclaiming the conversation might veer off into “finger pointing” and playing “the blame game”.
The best way to take part in this discussion is for each to recognize the power and potential each has for generating change through sharing and proposing “short wins” within current constraints. It may be true that lawmakers need to do this, or administrators need to do that…, but this rarely leads to a robust conversation that serves an immediate benefit for those speakers presumably experiencing different local contexts and nuanced issues around conversations in the digital age.
Take part in the conversation by joining @deem_ellen and @ShiftParadign (Mark E. Weston Ph.D.) today at 6:00 PM EST for #whatisschool!
Benjamin L. Stewart
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