Category Archives: tech in the classroom

participatory culture, web 2.0, and learning 2.0

Interesting blog post by Henry Jenkins on the need to distinguish between the terms participatory culture, web 2.0, and learning 2.0 (via Gloria Jacobs). Jenkins argues that using web 2.0 as a concept for learning may be problematic, resulting in a view of learning that emphasizes tools and technologies, corporate control, and consumerism. (Participatory cultures on the the other hand are bottom up, peer to peer, and [in many cases] critical.) Jenkins uses Brown and Adler’s (2008) definition as a jumping off point for this discussion:

“The latest evolution of the Internet, the so-called Web 2.0, has blurred the line between producers and consumers of content and has shifted attention from access to information toward access to other people. New kinds of online resources– such as social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and virtual communities– have allowed people with common interests to meet, share ideas, and collaborate in innovative ways. Indeed, the Web 2.0 is creating a new kind of participatory medium that is ideal for supporting multple modes of learning.”

My biggest problem with this definition, and a focus on tools and technologies, is that 1) it comes across as rather determinist, and 2) it underplays the social learning theories that are at the heart of collaborative, peer to peer learning (at least in formal learning settings). It may seem a bit chicken and egg, but folks have been thinking about and practicing social learning for a while now. One of the nice things about Web 2.0 technologies is that they’ve provided a means for us to more easily put into practice some of these collaborative, peer to peer practices – but they didn’t invent the idea, and social learning would still happen without them.

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study of college students’ use of Wikipedia for research

To read: article in First Monday on the results of a large-scale survey of college students’ Wikipedia use for course-related research. In a nutshell from a quick glance, it appears as though Wikipedia is a tool in students’ course research toolkit, but is used less frequently than sanctioned resources.

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help fund good teaching with technology!

A friend of mine from high school, Matt Anthes-Washburn, has been nominated for a prestigious physics teaching award from the NSF for his excellence in teaching high school physics.  You can see him in action in this Neighborhood Network News report video (opens in Windows Media Player).  Congrats, Matt!

He’s also currently trying to get a classroom technology project funded through DonorsChoose.org.  An excerpted description: " My students are English Language Learners and
recent immigrants from various countries. Together, we learn physics
through inquiry, while learning English language in context. …In
this project, we will integrate physical supports such as graphic
organizers and structured notebook pages with state-of-the art digital
technology. …My students need a wireless Wacom Graphire Bluetooth tablet, a VGA adapter, and 30 reams of copy paper. The cost of this proposal is $544."  Contribute here to help his kids!

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texting in class

If You Text in Class, This Prof Will Leave from Inside Higher Ed a couple of days ago is a microcosm of issues salient to professors, students, and researchers in higher ed.  It’s hard for me to formulate a response, because there’s clearly a lot going on there – discussions of race, professor authority, student behavior, students as consumers, and the ways in which the changes in the social and technological landscapes manifest themselves in the classroom especially in terms of evolving social and cultural norms – and it’s difficult to disentangle them.  Which, I suppose, serves as an excellent illustration of the fact that what looks on its face to be a simple issue of technology in the classroom actually has a lot going on under the surface. 

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