Weapons of Mass Collaboration – Donald Tapscott
The readings this week about making connections and forming networks were extremely inspiring and really made me consider the implications of how we use the Internet as a source of expertise, in particular social media. It is truly time to become a ‘prosumer’, as Jeff Utecht puts it in his book Reach.
However, my thoughts also moved to the children in my Year 3 class as well. They absolutely live in a community: from the bonds of friendship that they are building in the classroom; to the lists of exciting clubs that they attend; and to the all-important play-dates that they have outside of the school walls. This is particularly apparent in an English language and British style education school, based in central Tokyo.
They also absolutely learn from each other and build on different ideas in class time: from interesting talk partner conversations; to practical exploration of open ended problems in Mathematics; and to the rich discussions which we have as a whole class. Yet, does the online world really help the children to learn within the classroom setting? I would suggest that it is certainly time to take some of the ideas of connection, collaboration and network and use them directly to truly enrich the children’s learning.
Let’s take the all-too-regular a sticking point in the primary school day: the writing lesson. As it stands, the children in my class explore exciting texts and produce really creative pieces of writing. All to be viewed by their teacher (me) and teaching assistant. If they are really lucky then it will be stuck onto a display and perhaps viewed by another teacher in school, or a chance viewing from a parent.
Youth using new media often learn from their peers, not teachers or adults, and notions of expertise and authority have been turned on their heads – Living and Learning with New Media.
Aside from continuing to offer my expertise and ideas, it is time for my children to experience a wider range of experts. It is time for me to become a ‘connector first and content expert second’ – World Without Walls.
The first move towards this will come in the form of Twitter, which is currently used as a window into my class for the parents at home. I will ask the children to occasionally upload their writing onto this, in order to obtain some comments from the other classes in school, from other children in their own class, or from their parents at home. Though this is just a small measure, it should increase the audience that the children are writing for. It should give them some ‘real world’ drive.
In the interests of further involving friends and family as part of their audience, I think that the website Pobble is also something that I would like to investigate. This seems an excellent resource for the children to show their writing to the world and to gain feedback from a wide range of different people. It will be really interesting to discuss with the children how their personal networks are growing and exactly how this helps them with their learning.
Moving forward, though the children will be superficially involved in this process, it seems a logical aim to eventually help the children to gain full control. This would enable the children to be fully active in the process, and move from a ‘lurker’ to a ‘prosumer’. Child friendly blogs seem like something which would be a good step towards this, though any ideas about or beyond this would be warmly welcomed. With a whole world of online connections, it will be exhilarating to see how far the children’s networks can grow.
Much like classroom discussion, you must be an active member to get the most out of the content being shared – Jeff Utecht in ‘Reach’.