Am I ever glad I copied this before I posted:
Emerging from ISSOTL, I had some time on the train, so I took advantage of one of the apps that I just downloaded – Viigo – to read some of my feeds while I was waiting/riding. A few articles caught my attention and so this morning while I was going through Reader (hmm… it seems that all my brain dumps start this way) when I saw them again, I was sure to take action – a little bit of scaffolding in action there – seeing headlines twice seems to be useful in being able to identify the signal from the noise as opposed to a careful once through reading.
Anyway, so the first article was the new PEW survey on networked families, the second was an article that looked at how mobile phone users use their phones, the third was from EduTopia about collaboration and the last was from Science Daily on the idea of “TheirSpace” that came out earlier this year article that looked at a study on social networks. So how are all of these linked in my mind?
The PEW article suggests that even though the ubiquitous connectivity that is affored by broadband and ubergadgets would keep family members (I’m assuming that these are in middle/upper middle SES homes) locked into their own worlds, be that pleasure or work, families are still able to be “together while apart in the same room”.
Despite fears that many Americans are isolated from family members, because of separate agendas and immersive personal internet and cell phones, most families are together at night. Their heavy home internet use suggests that many households are hubs of personal communication networks, as people log on individually to email, IM, post on social networking sites and chat. They are both together with their families and connecting outward to friends and relatives elsewhere. They are neither isolated individuals nor Dick and Jane’s traditional family. Rather, their households are active sites of the interplay of individual activity and family togetherness.
The second article looks at activities users partake in when on the phone (in the US) and the top three uses are messaging, mobile internet and email. This seems to suggest that it is indeed possible for families to remain “together while apart” as PEW suggests. So if we extend the idea of the family into the classroom, it would go to suggest that people or students/instructors are willing and able to use network connected devices to maintain their connections outside of the home and perhaps the classroom – assuming that the individual enjoys either or both.
Edutopia looks at collaboration and how collaboration/social learning comtinues to show results:
- Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
- Active-learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
- Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.
In my head, this connects not only to the first two articles about connectivity, but also to the ideas that I took away from ISSOTL that students need to be encouraged to look inside themselves to find truth and knowledge. By extending the classroom beyond its usual walls, students are able to interact with content, or observe concepts in the “world” while away from the expert, encouraging them to ask their own questions and form their own knowledge. If we are able to take first article that people do indeed use networked devices to connect and collaborate when together in groups of similar disposition (families, classrooms, clubs etc).
But before someone inside the academy spots the thread of social networks through the first few resources, Science Daily brings forward this warning:
But the survey also found that 41 per cent of students were against being contacted directly by tutors via Facebook. A report on the preliminary findings warns that the university will need to tread carefully if it wants to use Facebook to communicate with students for administrative or teaching and learning purposes.
The researchers say: “The survey data illustrate that Facebook is part of the ‘social glue’ that helps students settle into university life, that keeps the student body together as a community and which aids in communication (especially about social events) between the student body. However, care must be taken not to over privilege Facebook: it is clearly only one aspect of student’s social networking practices and clearly face-to-face relationships and interactions remain significant.
So how does this all stitch together as an extention of ISSOTL? Well, it seems to suggest that as different as we seem to think the millenials are, for some things, they really are not all that different. Face to face time is important, collaboration is important, being involved in their learning is important. This is all great for creating some manner of rationalization as why not to “go heavy” into technology integration, but if the family and clubs (interest and otherwise) are any indication, technology is being used already in a near seemless way to extend and enhance face time, collaboration and involvement – so why is that not happening in the classroom? Is it that, as some claim, instructors just don’t want to use technology? That the academy wants to remain “basic and accessible/pure”? Or is it just an inability to assess being able to get the job done in more than one way? What is it that is holding the classroom back?