Thursday, October 18, 2007

Web 2.0 and Learning

Something I havent really looked at. I came across a neat post by Ismael Pena-Lopez. Some of the things he talks about, and I didnt even know existed, for example the MIT Lecture Browser. This seems to be an amazing tool. You can browse lectures, and though I couldnt open them for some reason, I am told you could edit content if you think a sentence is written wrong. This could be taken a step further? I am talking about an integration between the e-learning concept, and the concept of a wiki. Though, I doubt whether a true wiki would be useful in this context. Not so much in terms of content, I am sure, but more in terms of accessibility (how many of us tend to pay as much importance to what a fellow-student says, compared to what a Professor says! The Professor, after all, is the Professor, and hes the guy who gives out the grades, remember?).

However, something on the lines of a class wiki? One of the things this could work towards, is to work as a check of understanding. And to interact with fellow students, discuss, develop models, and create a greater understanding of the subject among the entire class community. Of course, a lot of our grading mechanisms wouldnt encourage that, what with the scores of the other guy impacting my grades, and so on ... They wont even let you ask the guy sitting next to you the answer to that tricky question in the exam! :-O Jokes apart, this has the potential of bringing collaborative learning to a level of generating far greater understanding and knowledge about things which are taught in class (net?).

Add to this a very nice presentation Juan Freire about Universities and Web 2.0: Institutional Challenges. Quite an amazing presentation, I must say. Especially the part about the teacher evolving from the leader to the facilitator. In fact, the model of broadcast, where the assumption is that children are blank slates, and the teacher can write upon them the way she wants to is, and has not been true. And, as access to resources proliferates (even if we take the digital divide into consideration), this is becoming more so. As an aside, theres some really simple to understand definitions of what web 2.0 is (minus the jargon).

Coming back to the point, though ... till now, corporate training has also operated on the same assumption as teaching has. That the students are blank slates ... Which is all the less true when it comes to adults. Because they bring with them a lifetime of experiences. I have had scenarios of having taught people much elder to me, with much more experience than me, and it can be an experience by itself, with the instructor learning more from the class than the student did, i think. But, corporate training has not been able to institutionalize this. Whether in class, or online. Instructors have been taught to "manage" the disruptive students, not listen to them. Most course material today is based on this logic, even including ice-breakers, or role-plays. Typical games that instructors get students to play in class, while being participative, are not really the types which encourage participation when it comes to deriving lessons from the game.

What this means is that the training industry has to change. Change in a way which changes it into a learning industry, rather than training. With much more interactions, and participation from students.

Theres more in the ppt there, but more on that later ...


Unknown said...

Totally agree. We are lucky to be on the front end of this revolution in Silicon Valley. It helps that we're not a traditional training company having developed media and web tools for communication since 1992. Keep up the conversation. Wikis, gadgets, and tools that Google's building that haven't even hit the market yet are going to force traditional training to change. And look out for the millennials, they're already demanding more. Thanks again.

Atul said...

Thanks, Renn. In fact, what you say reminds me of something I have been thinking for quite some time now ... more and more value is being added by the non-traditional companies. Few exceptions, of course ... But, by and large ...

I think wikis, blogs, and the other web 2.0 tools out there, while being an evolution on web 1.0, are a transition, and we should see far richer web 2.0 content.

Thanks once again for your thoughts. Do keep wrting!