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!
After having read Billy Willson's short college experience in Giving the Finger to K-State and General Education, I can't help but congratulate him on getting the publicity I'm sure he appreciates before setting out to pursue more entrepreneurial pursuits.
University fees and textbooks are too expensive. And yes, some educators are better than others. But there is no arguing that some individuals find higher education an investment and most universities continue to find new efficiencies. But is getting a degree for everyone? No.
Willson has decided that college is not for him. I just question when he reached this epiphany. I find it hard to believe that he explored many different universities only to decide on Kansas State University, and only after one semester, decided that the college experience is in no way beneficial for him or anyone else. I find it much more likely that Willson already had plans to pursue business before entering into any university, so that a plan of retaliation might get his name out there. It worked.
Anyone who pursues higher education questions the value of going to college, and this episode does little to change that fact one way or the other. Willson seems to have his life all figured out, and am sure his business will be a success - no regrets. Good for him.
Much has been written about personal learning networks (PLNs) and meanings abound. Does one create one or grow one? Is it an informal network, formal network, or some combination of both? Is it social, cognitive, physiological, and/or material?
This month, I engaged in my own PLN via Twitter by receiving an invitation from Michael Griffin (@michaelegriffin) to write a guest post on the topic of eportfolios, which was published today. After a few exchanges via Twitter, I drafted the piece in a Word online document that was later shared with Michael. He made a few changes to the draft, added some text as an introduction, then posted it to his blog.
The next step now is to reach out to colleagues to see if there is any interest in having a public, online chat about eportfolios by using Twitter, this website (an eportfolio), facebook, email, and also by simply engaging in face-to-face interactions.
The second and third paragraph above may seem a bit underwhelming in terms of how people choose to engage with each other, but it is one (simple) example of an informal network that is an aggregate of social, cognitive, physiological, and material nodes coming together for particular purposes. A PLN is nothing without a joint relationship between these four types of nodes. These relationships manifest themselves from oftentimes multiple purposes that co-exist (e.g., Michael wanting a guest post, me wanting to share an idea in his blog, etc.).
Does a PLN always look like this? No. Can a PLN exist in formal educational situations, like in schools? Yes. Does one create a PLN? No. Does everyone already have a PLN? Yes. Does everyone use the full potential of their PLN to their own advantage? No.
There are certain things that a PLN is and is not, but more importantly, it's placing judgment on its affectiveness in the past, realizing its current purpose at any given moment, and understanding its potential going forward.
Benjamin L. Stewart
The information is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my opinion. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (abusive, profane, rude, or anonymous comments) – so keep it polite, please.