How do we capture the spirit of open, networked and participatory communities in our learning?
As with any solution and any goal we need to develop a change in attitude. Education has classically been a very individualistic institution.
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Perhaps you've also had that sinking feeling when you realize an assignment is going to be a group project. Students learn that they are responsible for their our education alone and do not have a responsibility to fellow learners. This is confirmed and reconfirmed throughout the education process. The first step to open learning is realizing that, in building participatory communities, we are teaching children something they have been taught implicitly not to do. This is a shame because in the words of Alan November:
"I think we've underestimated
kids to kids" (teaching).
One of the greatest practical things we can do for fostering community learning is to implement new technology in education. Some technologies are better than others for this but, where we often perceive the internet and technology leading to disconnection outside the classroom, it has had the opposite effect when harnessed in the classroom.
One piece of technology I found out about today is Padlet. It is a public wall that the whole class can post on. You can project the program on a class wall or use it on a smart board. Students can write their ideas and post videos. One neat thing about Padlet is that a student can post anonymously. A quiet student who doesn't like speaking up is able to be connected to the class where they wouldn't have been.
Social media no longer has to be a distraction. Teachers can project live tweet sessions during class. #Science102014 can be the hashtag that facilitates questions and comments during instruction.
Flipgram can be a way to open up communication in the classroom. Making a video with a webcam in the student's home is, for many, more comfortable than speaking up in class. It's tools like this that will ensure it's not just the extroverts who are being heard.
There are so many amazing technologies that are free and easy to learn and implement. This is one easy way to create an open, socially networked community.