not instructionally interesting until technologically boring

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Posted by Jenna Ream |

I have been so inspired by our weekly conversations in the flc. Even last week… we got off to a slow start… but when we started talking about the effectiveness of screencasts and what makes good video to support learning, the conversation really took off! Regrettably, we ran out of time before we ran out of conversation… it was 12:20 when we finally cut ourselves off. The part of our conversation that is still sticking with me today are the questions: are we in the midst of a changing populous, a changing demographic and therefore we have new expectations for information, interaction? And then, how is increased usability and availability of technology changing the way we teach and learn? We started this conversation talking about kids: their expectations of and familiarity with technology, and the assumptions they make based on the fact these tools have been in their world their whole lives. I see it in my own household. A while back my two girls asked for ‘mommy stuff’ to play with. As they each had a baby on their hip and were headed into the back yard I reached for the play kitchen stuff. “No mom,” they replied, “we need laptops and cell phones.”

But what does this mean for the adult learners I work with? Many did not grow up with current technologies, I sure did not, but we witnessed and were part of the growth of tech over time. And now… so many of us are participating in and/or raising kids who live in this tech-assuming society. Adults taking online classes are making the conscious decision to participate. What does that mean for me as I create the learning environment? Stealing from Clay Shirky: I wonder if we are not so much in an ‘information revolution’ but an ‘information coevolution’. Society and technology has grown and changed together over time throughout history. But the creation of new tools is not what drives change, it is the mainstream adoption of those tools that makes change in a particular manner possible. As Shirky puts it best: “Communications tools do not get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.” As I look at building my online classes my goal is to always have the tools be the manner through which we have the conversation that drives learning. Email, downloading, uploading, using telephones, viewing video and participating in threaded discussion are well established, comfortable- even boring- technologies for my students at this time. Live chat, Instant Message, slidesharing, database searching and video/audio production, not so much. Let’s talk about what we as teachers can do to support students as they build familiarity with the communication tools that can facilitate the conversation. How can we sharpen the learning curve so that we can all, together, better communicate our ideas about teaching and learning in our classrooms?


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