Moving Beyond A Single Source of Expertise

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’.

This entry was posted in Blogging, COETAIL, Course 1, Online 9, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Moving Beyond A Single Source of Expertise

  1. Hey Rory!

    Great post! I really connected with the ideas of the becoming “prosumers” from the “Reach” reading as well. There’s a picture by Sylvia Duckwoth that I shared during a faculty meeting last year with a quote on it that reads “I wrote/created something really great…but only my teacher saw it” (unfortunately I didn’t save the link and cannot find it when searching right now). The quote though, I feel, so strongly connects with what you are saying about wanting your young authors to have a bigger audience for their writing (and other works as well).

    It’s truly amazing what we can do with technology and how we can really broaden the audiences that our students can interact with (especially where you are in Tokyo with incredible Internet capabilities- I’m still getting there where I am). It also comes with a lot of responsibility that we must also teach students in terms of Digital Citizenship of course and keeping them safe.

    I often find myself a little jealous of our students in this generation because our own educations were, I’m sure, so much different from theirs in the technology sense, because our audiences truly were just our teachers and occasionally our peers. I wonder what impact it would have had on me to have had the technology opportunities they now experience, and I also wonder how we as teachers now can maximize the positive impact of all the available technology in their lives now.

    A blogging tool you might want to look into is SeeSaw. I haven’t used it myself, but have heard LOTS of great feedback on it especially from primary teachers. link to check it out and see if it will offer you the features you’re desiring! They offer regular, free online PD webinars for teachers as well!

    Looking forward to reading more of your ideas and staying in touch, my twitter handle is @sarawmcallister

    • Rory Bell says:

      Hey Sara!

      Thank you for the comment! A quick search for Sylvia Duckwoth images did not lead to the one mentioned for me either, but a wonderful array of thought-provoking ideas and inspiring sketches anyway. Thank you!

      Absolutely. Opening doors to new audiences is something that will hopefully have a direct impact on the enjoyment of writing, and ultimately on how much the children learn. Many thanks for the link to Seesaw – I will look into using this with my class.

      Your point about Digital Citizenship is also so pertinent. Our talented IT Teacher is currently having open and frank conversations about the importance of safety on the Internet, while extolling the virtues of our online world. I think that I will also aim to discuss with the children the idea of our ‘online presence’, and how we should always strive to create ourselves a positive profile.

      Finally, yes – it is almost laughable how different study and lifestyle is when compared to ourselves and the students of today. Even comparing the school life of my 21 year old sister to myself shows just how many possibilities there are for use of technology and online tools, as she adeptly navigates a range of devices, apps and programs which are totally unknown to me! Time to catch up with this generation through COETAIL!

      Speak to you next time,

  2. Dan Berry says:

    Good post Rory – Twitter is a really good, quick way to show the children that they are writing for a purpose. The struggle is always making time for the children to explore Twitter so they can actually see their work. It can very easily fall down the pecking order of all the other things you/they need to do.

    For blogging and giving the children a quick ‘in’ to having a website Google Sites is a good way to go.


    • Rory Bell says:

      Thank you, Dan. I totally agree. In such a busy environment, the smaller jobs ‘on the side’ are usually the ones that get forgotten/delayed.

      My hope would be that I could create a situation where the children are in control of this process. If there is an enthusiasm for sharing their writing, then perhaps this could both increase (dare I say it) enjoyment for writing and also a drive to want to upload images of it for their parents, other teaching staff and peers (most importantly) to see.

      Thank you for the Google Sites idea, I will definitely look into this.


  3. Rory –
    You really make a relevant connection between all the great learning and sharing that is already happening in your classroom and how technology could enhance and expand that for your students. The opportunities for your students to make connections ‘beyond the classroom walls.’ Twitter is a great start (try using #comments4kids to get interaction on your students’ writing). As mentioned in Sara’s comment, Seesaw is a very popular and highly recommended digital portfolio/blogging platform.

    • Rory Bell says:

      Hi Diana,

      Many thanks for the comment. I will look into using the tools mentioned and will make sure that I post some of the results!


  4. Hi Rory,

    Great post! I love how you are already connecting the reading and thinking to how you want to use it in your classroom. I really like the ideas you have around giving your students an authentic audience for their writing by having them post on Twitter and Pobble. I’m very curious to check out Pobble myself now.

    Another student friendly blogging tool is Edublogs. It’s actually built on the wordpress platform so would look and feel the same as the blog you are writing for this course. In other words you wouldn’t have to learn something new while also teaching your students how to use it.

    I look forward to hearing more about your connections in your classroom.


    • Rory Bell says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you! Yes, have a look at Pobble – I definitely intend to use it.

      Great! I will check out Edublogs. It is always good to find out different types of blog, especially ones that are familiar!

      Looking forward to linking up again in future weeks of the course.



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