I have some homework to do.
A. I am your friend. I don’t work in education. You are talking to me about the idea that we all learn from each other, in all kinds of contexts, and that this can often be richer than more formal classroom based learning. I am sceptical. Tell me about an informal learning experience you have had online in which collaboration was involved, show me a concrete example to help me to see what you mean.
Answer: One event that springs to mind was the NMC Symposium on Creativity in Second Life. Angela Thomas (Anya Ixchel) and I (Kim Pasternak) were jointly running a session Our NMC Session – Teaching On the Second Life Stage: Playful Educational Strategies for Serious Purposes (and here too) where we were using drama strategies to explore issues of internet governance. We created a fictional future where Linden Lab had imposed a new set of rules that outlawed much of the creative activity in Second Life. We asked our attendees to take on roles as teachers, administrators, students and parents and to examine the situation through those lenses. It turned out to be a very exciting and engaging session. The people attending the session were actively involved in the Drama and the session. The people looked at the situation and voted, inrole, as to whether the new stricter regime should be maintained. Surprising to everyone, the vote was to maintain the new rules. In a reflective discussion afterwards the people considered why they’d voted counter to their personal opinions. It seems the roleplay was rich enough to sustain an investment in the truth of the fiction. The people voted as their characters would have voted.
B. We all explore new technologies, some grab our attention more than others, some seem revolutionary, others simply bore us. Tell us about that new tool, or set of tools, you have just discovered that really excites you, talk about the potential it has to change your work. What do you want to do with it?
Answer: I suppose the simple answer is “all of it”. I see the possibilities for whatever piece of technology I encounter. It doesn’t always mean I have an immediate context for using the tool. I discovered the LinkRoll functionality in Diigo the other day. Since then its been near the top of my list to advocate to other teachers. The ability to use a group’s bookmark tags as a RSS feed is a very useful way of sharing third party information about particular topic. As a teacher it’s also a good way of monitoring what students find as relevant reading. I also think Voicethread has a lot to offer and of course, Second Life (and other 3D MUVEs) have barely begun to find their place in schools and universities as sites for collaborative learning.
C. Do you see yourself as a pioneer? Do you think you are more innovative than others in your organisation? Do you think your organisation is lagging behind? Tell us how you feel about this?
Answer: I don’t think I am a pioneer. Although I do experiment with many new technologies I’ve seldom have a context where its been possible to use them to the extent I imagine. The past 2 years I’ve been lucky to teach a technology unit in Drama Education for preservice teachers. Seeing the students generate wonderful examples of technology-mediated drama lessons is very exciting. While I may not be a pioneer I think I teach those who are. I work in a rnage of organsiations, some are still in the technological dark ages while others are forging ahead. At school we operate a 1-1 laptop program – every student and teacher from Grades 5-12 has a Macbook (with MS Office, iLife, iWork, Adobe CS3, and more) – the school is 90% wireless. We use Sharepoint and Mac OSX 10.5 Web services. While the technology is cutting edge some of the educators are still finding what it means to be teachng in the digtal age.