Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bloggers teachers and learners

I am very new to blogging. Just learning the skill and starting to see the possibilities. I am enjoying using a blog as a personal and professional reflective tool while having that visible for others to share, to stimulate their own reflection. When they too share it creates a spiral of learning and growing. I do not believe learning is ever a two dimensional process, i.e. material delivered = learning occurs. Learners make connections with past experiences growing their understanding, raising questions to which they seek answers, and so the cycle continues. The experiences to which they can relate their learning are not limited to the subject in which they are involved at the particular point in time. Thought processes can make varied links and connections all of which add to the ability to learn and grow. I am thinking about blogging and how this can be used a reflecting and learning tool for our students. How much of ourselves should we share in our own blogs and what form should they take. I have been stimulated to consider this by these blogs from Konrad Glogowski and Sarah Stewart.

As teachers I think we should keep a focus on what our students need to learn. We need to create a climate of learning which will engage students and stimulate the possibilities for sharing and reflection. Dewey (the educational theorist and philosopher who died the year I was born) believed that education must engage with and enlarge experience. Dewey also identified the importance of reflection and thinking on how we learn and was concerned with education creating an environment in which this could happen. I think Dewey would be enraptured by the possibilities of this new medium to stimulate and support learning.

Newman, Michael (2006) 'Throwing out the balance with the bathwater', the encyclopaedia of informal education, . Last updated: September 21, 2007.Suggests that "In the objective world we act as subjects to objects, in the social world as subjects to other subjects, and in the subjective world as subjects to ourselves, and so we engage and make meaning through physical action, through our interaction with others, and through self-reflection". When we blog we are creating another sphere where we are blending the subjective and the social in ways that were previously only possible in small philosophical intelluctual groups. Newman suggests that "Our purpose in working in adult education at any of the levels, meta or otherwise, is to help people quell their angst and so liberate them from their own inactivity. It is to help them identify and understand their unrequited yearning, and to help them act in order to satisfy that yearning. It is to help them give an object, an objective, to their desire." As teachers then I think we should embrace this new environment for sharing and learning. We can stimulate deeper thinking and point out connections that students might not otherwise see which can lead to that Ah Ha! insightful moment. The spark that brings the subject to life.

In my relatively short career in teaching I have often felt that if only the few students who really get it, who have that insight could share in a meaningful way with their fellow students how valuable that would be. This value is not only to those who could be inspired by this insight and perhaps help to attain this for themselves, but helps the entire group to learn, grow adapt and change.

Now I am getting on a role and could probably go on and on but I think I will stop here. I have more thoughts floating around in my brain but I am really interested to know what others think? Please, if you do drop by, leave me a word or two to let me know your thoughts.

1 comment:

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you for your blog entry, Carolyn. I really enjoyed reading it. The point you made about the students not necessarily learning about what they are supposed to at any given time but something else altogether certainly resonated. I can certainly see the role blogs would play in that, especially if students network with people outside their immediate realm of learning/teaching.Its almost like accidental learning. I'm going to be devil's advocate now: are we as teachers in a given course responsible for that accidental learning? Yes, it is wonderful if students bounce off us to learn, but should I worry about anything other than what I am teaching at the time? Or is it the student's responsibility for taking herself off into other realms?

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