Defining Tools for a New Learning Space

The abstract of a paper published by a professor of Foreign Language and Literature at Whitman College:

This paper uses specific issues surrounding course blogging to provide a series of reflections regarding the articulation between pedagogy and technology in creating a next generation learning space and discourse community. It investigates the underlying structure and necessary constituent elements of a successful blog assignment and examines the notion of natural and unnatural virtual environments and the roles of the reader and the writer-reader. It suggests that blog assignments may not succeed equally well in all subject areas and gives a number of possible reasons. Furthermore, it posits a more nuanced criterion for the definition of goals and the evaluation of the success of a blog assignment as a learning community beyond the presence or absence of comments.

I can’t help but be cynical when someone writes a paper like this that is distributed online and yet shows utter incomprehension of the online medium. Perhaps it was the journal’s editor that is to blame, but here’s my list of gripes:

  • electronic sources that are cited and linked to within the bibliography but not within the actual text
  • utterly dense language that makes it nearly inaccessible to a significant number of students that may be interested is reading about using online tools in the classroom
  • repeated use of the term “web 2.0”

Ultimately in order to create a “next generation learning space and discourse community” we’re going to need to open up that community to those of all apsects of life, including people for whom this text is just plain unreadable.


Daniel says:

Booyah. Start a movement: start blogging your class assignments and experiment with it.

Daniel says:

Part two: there are so many conversations about the tools that would be better suited as conversations about the means.

Andrew says:

I like the idea of blogging classes and assignments. Maybe I’ll experiment with that at the beginning of the semester here and see where it goes.

I totally hear you on the frustration over conversations that should be about means but are about tools. I think it’s a result of it being “sexy” to talk about the tools instead of actually discussing what’s needed, which is the means to accomplish something.

I’m considering doing my Politics thesis on Twitter, blogs, et al and if so am going to make a concerted effort to keep the focus on means instead of tools.

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