Friday, 19 June 2009

Communities of Practice - a model of social learning

Communities of practice or learning have been a focus of mine for some time as a means of social learning and as a pedagogical model which underpins a role for conversation in education.

I note that Dr Etienne Wenger is due to present at Coventry University in September at the iPED Conference and I particularly like two quotes - pulled out from his profile - which illustrate this point rather nicely!

"Curriculum is...... a constellation of communities...... contributing to the consitution of a field of inquiry"

"Communities of Practice..... a social disciplin of learning"

I am keen to understand more about the natural ways people learn and how we can capitalise on the current advances in technology to support this.

As Wenger seems to infer.... the imposed models of education we as a society have constructed to faciltiate the process of information transference - otherwise known as teaching - are based on the assumptions that a body of knowledge is a curriculum, that learning depends on teaching and that the classroom is the locus of learning and the rest of life its application.......

and this no-longer seems so appropriate?

Communities of practice offer a potential opportunity to open up previously imposed boundaries and dividers. However I am left wondering where the barriers to communication will lie now?

Is it right to assume that barriers to communication will centre on the fact that we are NOT all multilingual?


will the real difficulties (with readily accessible translators and text based communication channels) manifest themselves in disciplinary differences and lie in our inability to understand each other across our various disciplins or subject areas?

How crucial will being able 'to talk the same language' be in facilitating understanding and the joining forces to make effective progress?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Is Reading a conversation?

When talking over my 'conversation' interests with fellow students a few months back and the many forms 'conversation' can take, one queried whether reading was a form of conversation. Several of us considered it a form of interaction between the author and reader all be it one way. However one flagged the fact that this was evolving with authors now becoming readily available online, via blogs or online forums to engage in conversation regarding their work with their readers.

So - I was interested to note a session to be run at 12am tonight in Elluminate at: on this very topic. The changing role of author and reader in a social media age 'where everyone can join the conversation' is up for discussion, as well as the dramatic changes now ocurring with the whole 'reading experience'. With pre publication wikified collaboration and increased author-reader and reader-reader conversations reading is becoming, it seems, less of a private conversation and more of a 360 degree one!

I doubt I will be awake that late unfortunately so will have to listen to an after event recording.

What's your view - is reading a conversation? What can conversation add to the 'reading experience'? Are we simply participating in an online bookclub or reading circle but with a visit from the author?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Grading and Assessing Conversation

One topic worth a focus for research purposes is the area of assessment regarding 'conversations' and levels of contribution or engagement........ so I thought I would use this blog post as a flag in the sand so to speak - a place to return to in order to review or add to various thoughts, insights or references on topic.

Lets start with Trent Bastons: "Learning in the Webiverse: How Do You Grade a Conversation?," Campus Technology 06/18/08

So - just how do you grade a conversation?

and more importantly,

if we are to align our teaching and assessment practice, what learning is it important to surface and expose within conversation?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Is Social Learning what e-learning always should have been about?

Thought I would start with a question today rather than end with one - am feeling rather reckless!

Is Social Learning what e-learning always should have been about: "information, instruction, education, training, communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing"?

It seems it's one reason (number 4) of the 10 good reasons to get involved in social organisational learning:

..... and if it is indeed accepted that 20% of learning takes place formally and 80% takes place informally then is the future of Elearning - Social Learning?

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Comments do count

On the whole I have been keeping this blog under the radar in order to get used to blogging and to formulate numerous thoughts and track an interest. Whilst the whole blog tracks a very real interest it is also somewhat of an experiment and part of the 'role of conversation in education' concept as a whole, so I have decided to make it a little more visible via the security settings, amongst fellow students with similar research interests and include it in my profile for several communities I have just joined:

The future of education
Classroom Web 2.0

The commenting section of the blog of course is where the 'real conversation' lies and as part of my experiementation with topic and technology I used this blog as a course resource for a learning event I designed and ran and a Masters level online module I wrote for the MSC Elearning course I am currently following - hence some of the comments appearing on earlier posts. Part of the conversations held earlier include discussions on why some do not engage or interact either via commenting functions or on virtual discussion boards.

As engagement and participation is essential to any learning I was pleased, but not surprised to see similar conversations happening elsewhere on Sue Waters Blog. There are certainly several insights into non participation here but equally several ideas on how to make blog posts 'entice' comments.

I had already decided, in the spirit of Inquiry led Investigation - a form of conversational learning, to try and end each blog post with a question looking for further insight, expansion, clarification or deeper understanding so will also look to pick up some further tips from Sue's post too!

Beyond my serendipitous stumblings - which are a delight in themsleves......

How can I find and feed into similar conversations held elsewhere in the world more efficiently and effectively?

ooh - just serendipitously found another rich discussion strand.....