John Kruper of Cardean moderates. (I'm live blogging while I'm on the panel.)
Will Richardson, who teaches in the K-12 system, thinks blogs provide a powerful opportunity for students to make connections to other people, ideas..."I cringe when I hear people say blogs are online journals. They're learning places." His 6 and 8 yr old children have blogs and engage with other kids their age.
Liz Lawley says she uses blogs to get info out to her classes. She also sets up a class blog where students can talk about the assignments, comment on each other's activities, post results of research and other projects. They look at one another's posts and comment on them. "It encourages a kind of thoughtful ongoing dialogue that you simply can't do when you only have four hours a week in class." She also invites authors to engage in a dialogue with the class. This teaches them that there are long term consequences to what they say.
George Siemens explains his term "connectivism." The half-life of knowledge is diminishing, he says: it's becoming obsolete faster than ever. Courses can't keep up. Connectivism says that the knowledge resides in the networks we create. Our education system was designed to create certainty. Now the system has to be able to adapt quickly. The network persists longer than traditional relationships with teachers.
Adrian Chan says that different social software apps are organized to support different themes: Dating, career networking, etc. He looks at the social practices in the use of the software, including in the educational environment. What matters is how technology is embedded in the process. In the case of edu, many of the students already have practices set up: They already IM, chat, etc. How do these technologies change conversation? Is there a type we can identify as learning? If you integrate technologies, would you lose some of those learning opportunites.
I talk about lessons from Wikipedia ,but I can't blog and talk at the same time.
Doug Thomas, who has an article with John Seely Brown in Wired this month, says he's concerned that we're training kids for the best jobs in the 20th Century. Instead, we should be helping expand imagination. He knows a student who has to sneak art and music into his studies because they're not on the test. "Our mission is to try to re-integrate imagination back into the curriculum." MMORPGs are one way to do that. They're not just games; they're synthetic worlds. (He says the average age of WOW players is 28.) Because you can imagine liberating things in the game, you imagine liberating things outside the game. E.g., a mgr at Yahoo approaches every task as if setting out on a quest. Doug shows the famous video of the Star War Galaxies emergent party - 100 players learning choreography, etc. He taught a course with a heavy mmorpg component and learned he had to get himself out of the way. They learned from experience. E.g., it's hard to lecture about ethics, but if you can put them into a situation where they have to make a choice...
Q: It's all so basically new. Are people basically good or bad in this environment?
George: Content is useless. The instructor provides guidance, not content, and isn't the center of the experience.
Liz: Content isn't irrelevant. If we're going to turn out people with the credentials employers want, we have to be sure they have the content required. But it's not a matter of pouring content into people.
Q: Companies access MySpace of potential employees. Should your 6 and 8 year olds be worried?
Liz: This is a huge issue. We can't tell our kids not to blog. We have to teach them to think about what will happen in 5 or 10 yrs.
George: We have to teach them how to handle the freedom.
Will: This is a literacy we're not teaching our kids. And enabling kids in MySpace to link to Old Spice is what's really bad.
Me: And we need a culture of forgiveness. Maybe our kids will figure it out.
Q: You're creating a generation of Borgs that play games.
(We didn't really answer this.)
Q: We get it. How do we get there? E.g., not everyone can afford a laptop.
Liz: You have to start with the teachers. The technology has to be part of the day to day environment.
George: The problem is a lack of will, not of resources.
Q: With 50,000 blog posts an hour, the problem is one of discovery. How do we know whom to trust?
Doug: Scale counts. E.g., at Second Life a group looks for copyright infringement. When it gets really big, they can't police it. Community governance arises.
Me: These are issues we can only solve by working through them. The change is too deep.
Q: In Shanghai, you can go into a Net cafe where people are playing mmorpgs that put them into medieval China. And I blog and get hate mail. What about the dystopian aspects?
Doug: It's both/and. People probably said about the first cave paintings: "Oh no, the kids will spend all day on line and won't hunt." People miss the subtleties of what's going on.
Liz: In part it's because you're writing for Huffington Post.
Q: We still have the old leadership style.
Liz: People react by banning laptops. It puts a burden on the professors when they have to actually hold students' attention. We're performers at heart but that's not what professors will need to be.
Will: The control issue is at every level. There's a district in Texas that's banned the word "MySpace" — not the site but the word.George: Same issues for corporate education.