How useful do you find the open source tools and social media for learning? Is it your personal preference that drives this or the affordances? Would they be useful for others if you find it lacking? What would make them more useful?
I found this article to start my engine “thinking”. As more and more educators are trying to reach their “customer” students whether or not they are in K-12 or higher ed, one particular phrase that struck me immediately is “Chasing the technology”. Do we as educators think that we must jump on every train that stops at the station. I think that sometimes educators do this without thinking about the ramifications, objectives or even what the problem the technology solves and is it truly “better” or do we think we need to use this new technology, just because it is…. well…. new?
Is the trend to do this… chase the technology? I liked the twitter aspect of this weeks plan, but I think overall, it is because… well I get it. I like the short bursts of knowledge, the ability to read 140 characters and determine whether or not I want to digest it and do something with the knowledge or just read it and pass on by. Does this work for everyone? Definitely not. Do you have to always read everything on Twitter… ummmmm – no, you can’t. The way that I approach twitter work for me. Period. Could someone else use my approach, for sure, but they need to figure out what works for them. Do we put twitter or even facebook in the trend category – absolutely. I still get the question about twitter… I can tell you what works for me, but in the chapter Scott/Wakefield describe Learning as Communicative Actions – described one thing that I think more people need to figure out… choosing to commit. I didn’t choose to commit for about 4 months on Twitter. I didn’t understand it. Period. I finally chose to commit and wow… I have contributed to other people’s learning, had some interesting discussions (albeit short bursts), but these lead to deeper and richer investigations and I feel I would not found otherwise – I don’t have the time to spend hours upon hours to connect and learn. I love that learning comes to me in short bursts and I can figure out for me, whether or not I want to expend the energy. Are there times when the conversation isn’t exactly what I want to read? Sure, but the beauty of twitter is to look for other followers with the same interests, commonalities or more. Same thing with Facebook – I don’t necessarily “choose to commit” to FB, but it connects me to my family, my community happenings, even to people I have not seen in quite some time. It is a like a window — I can choose to open it up or keep it close. I can look through other people’s windows if they open them. That is kind of weird to think about though… I guess there are those people who keep their windows open way too much (that is my own personal belief), but the beauty of FB is that I can do that…
Instructionally, I think it is a shame that an instructor won’t use or even offer the opportunity to explore a particular tool because they feel it isn’t sound or they don’t like it. As I started out… even if it is a trend, if the goals and objectives of the instruction support the use, why should I as the instructional designer prohibit the use? It is like me and math… it isn’t my greatest subject, nor am I excited about it, but I do it. I have to facilitate sessions that incorporate some tools which are heavily math based… I don’t just pass over them or exclude them. I embrace them, learn them even at a level which I can speak to reasonably and then let the others who are more passionate for the tools, drive the discussion. What is wrong with that?
As far as open source tools which contribute to an even deeper/broader scope, I don’t think at this point, changing the dynamics or the flow of the “space” will change the outcome – yet. As a community of learners, and even though online learning has been around now for a while, I don’t think we as designers and learners have totally embraced what can be with online learning. We don’t totally understand what it means to collaborate, to share, to converse, to have a presence in an online environment. I am not really talking Twitter or Facebook here, but LMS – Blackboard, Schoology, Canvas, Edmodo… an instructor or even the student needs to choose to commit. What that looks like… it could be different for everyone, but there are some solid foundational elements. As an instructional designer, finding the balance of what is good for the objectives vs what is just “fluff” could be a challenge if the right set of exeptations and the right tools are not thought about and placed in the right context. With online learning and the use of these tools, I find it extremely detrimental to my own learning if the scope and sequence doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to spend tons of time trying to figure out a sequence… and make sure the sequence works. Putting content somewhere because it is “easy” for the instructor… not good. I like canvas, but things are intertwined and connected. I am not sure whether or not the LMS does this or it was just good pre-planning by the instructor. It is like a flow map of objectives… I have to have a curriculum map of where I am and where do I want to be. If I spend all of my time lost, no one gets anywhere. Open source is great. Chasing the technology for the sake of just using it – not so great. Making sure I meet goals and objectives is a good thing and there are great tools that provide this.