Toe Dipping in Technology

Dipping Toes

As many of you know, Jeff Nugent and I teach a graduate course in the Preparing Future Faculty program called GRAD-602: Teaching, Learning and Technology.  Our 24 PhD candidates and post-docs spend the first 6 weeks exploring different potential technologies, such as blogs, Twitter, Diigo, and other networked applications.  Most of them are familiar with Facebook but had not used other social media.  We are attempting to familiarize them with the notion that today’s web is social, connected, and participatory.  So they are dipping their collective toes.  We are having them blog weekly and are aggregating their posts with NetvibesThe course feed is here.

We are seeing some excellent writing in their first posts, but few have caught on to commenting so far.  That will come with time.  We are also seeing some interesting push-back on the use of technology in teaching and learning.  One student posted today:

“…When this class started I was slightly apprehensive about the idea of creating a blog, but I could see the usefulness of it and I resolved to at least give it a good try. This Twitter thing though…I have to say I have several negative feelings about Twitter and I’ve been against creating one and just kind of hoping the Twitter craze would pass by sooner rather than later.”

 Another asked:

“…how can a teacher measure his or her student’s engagement when the latter resorts to technology? Does technology facilitate to live by seven golden Principles of improving Undergraduate Education? The answer is both Yes and No.”

And a third blogs:

“Doesn’t showing up for class and being prepared to share your ideas and knowledge still count for something? While technology opens education to many in various parts of the world, one of the things that both articles mention is that education is social and collaborative. We still need to discipline ourselves to come together and share ideas face-to-face. There is something innately human in this, and while it can be improved with technology-based material prepared for a variety of people, you cannot take this away without changing the essence of what it means to be human. We learn by doing, but we also learn, especially as youngsters, by following examples. Technology in isolation, maybe even in majority, sets a poor example.”

Okay….I am cherry picking some comments, and the class as a whole is not setting up an “Occupy 602″ camp.  But with only 100 minutes a week together face-to-face, I find it fascinating that the conversation is not only continuing between classes in the blogosphere, but surfacing ideas that have not come out face-to-face.

It would be neat and helpful if our colleagues around the world checked out some of these student blogs and joined in the conversations.  These student are still attempting to frame social media in their past frames of reference, and the global networked learning that COULD occur is so much broader than that.

So come on in, the waters fine!

{Photo Credit: Ben W}

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