Web 2.0 tools and Conversations

I’ve long thought that what I deal in is conversations — with one’s own body, with a partner, or a group, interviews, mediation, open space even my various roles as teacher and facilitator, it was all conversations for … change / clarity / comfort / resolution / shift.  Working with III recently I’ve been poking around in recent writing on digital tools and digital courseware.

Of course coaching is the quintesential “learner-centered” or “student-centered” design, that places control of learning itself {process?} into the hands of the learner.

I’m quoting all of the following:

e-Learning 2.o on wiki e-Learning Org

Today, e-learning mainly takes the form of online courses. From the resources distributed by MIT’s OpenCourseware project to the design of learning materials in Rice’s Connexions project to the offerings found from colleges and universities everywhere, the course is the basic unit of organization. …The manner in which this new generation of users is changing markets is captured evocatively in a document called The Cluetrain Manifesto. First posted online in April 1999, the document begins with the declaration that “markets are conversations” and continues with a redefinition of the relation between producer and consumer. “Markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized… People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors.” Jay Cross, writing in the same vein, talks about the “augmented learner” and the “hyper-organization” [4].

In learning, these trends are manifest in what is sometimes called “learner-centered” or “student-centered” design. This is more than just adapting for different learning styles or allowing the user to change the font size and background color; it is the placing of the control of learning itself into the hands of the learner [5].

Taking this approach even further is George Siemens’s Connectivism. “We derive our competence,” writes Siemens, “from forming connections… Chaos is a new reality for knowledge workers… Unlike constructivism, which states that learners attempt to foster understanding by meaning-making tasks, chaos states that the meaning exists— the learner’s challenge is to recognize the patterns which appear to be hidden. Meaning-making and forming connections between specialized communities are important activities.” Readers of Douglas Rushkoff’s Cyberia will recognize a similar theme as knowledge-working is no longer thought of as the gathering and accumulation of facts, but rather, the riding of waves in a dynamic environment [8].

The breaking down of barriers has led to many of the movements and issues we see on today’s Internet. File-sharing, for example, evolves not of a sudden criminality among today’s youth but rather in their pervasive belief that information is something meant to be shared. This belief is manifest in such things as free and open-source software, Creative Commons licenses for content, and open access to scholarly and other works. Sharing content is not considered unethical; indeed, the hoarding of content is viewed as antisocial [9]. And open content is viewed not merely as nice to have but essential for the creation of the sort of learning network described by Siemens [10].

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