Monday, July 09, 2007

Thoughts on Teaching and Learning 2.0

New perspectives on teaching, learning and technology are appearing everywhere. Some of the “new” terms we are finding are “Learning Spaces,” “Web 2.0,” “Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing,” just to name a few. Thinking on how this may impact teaching and learning, I pulled out several books (trying to find a unifying thread) … Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” … If the world is becoming flatter, has our teaching and learning responded in kind? Have we viewed teaching as a communal effort? Do we have a global classroom? Is our curriculum reflecting the integrated and inter-related nature of knowledge, learning and success? Do we see the classroom as a point of convergence? The world has moved “from a primary vertical – command and control – system for creating value to a more horizontal – connect and collaborate – value-creation model” (Friedman, 2006, p. 234).

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” … "Mavens are data banks. They provide the message" (Gladwell, 2002, p. 70) … mavens may be more than the teacher. The resources for learning, the library, may provide some of the content for the message. Students learning from students may also provide a message. "Connectors are the social glue: they spread it" (Gladwell, 2002, p. 70) … collaborative learning, cooperative learning, project-based learning, problem-based learning … each of the pedagogies of engagement would indicate that learning TOGETHER with others is powerful. "... there is also a select group of people - Salesmen - with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing ..." (Gladwell, 2002, p. 70) … I believe Gladwell may be describing newer roles for teaching and learning.

In “Blink” Gladwell focuses on thin-slicing … or “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience” (Gladwell,2005, p. 23) … is this where we know what works in a classroom? How do we learn how to thin-slice?

Do we need to revisit and repurpose our perceptions of teaching and learning? Can the changes in technology be used to guide us? Is it time?

Friedman, T. (2006). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.

Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.

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