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H809 – Timelines, theories and technologies (A7.1)

March 25, 2011

Being already for more than 20 years in the teaching business I recognize a constant movement in school regarding new learning theories, technology and as well ethics. Well, at least a theoretical movement, the translation into practice is often delayed and I have to admit that teachers are sometimes pretty reluctant to change existing practice. Using Roger’s (1997) ideal types I came around in H807, regarding how quick or not someone is using new technology and theories, I would consider a great amount of teachers as laggards or belonging to the late majority. They want first solid proof that this new learning approach definitely works and brings some benefits, they let others test and improve the approach, and finally might accept (or not) the benefits for learning and teaching.

Sometimes I even have the feeling that some approaches experience a renaissance, just like fashion, where you just have to wait long enough and the trend returns. However, I experience a clear trend towards social approaches, like social constructivism or connectivism. Communities of practice (Wenge,1989),  Activity theory (Vygotsky or later Engestroem, 2001) are just two examples of how the emphasis changed from individual toward group learning. Or to use Sfards metaphors – how epistemology changed from acquisition towards the participation metaphor.

I think there is a relationship between Web 2.0 developments and tools that encourage communication, collaboration, sharing, repurposing, etc. Economy also increasingly stresses the importance that employers capacity for teamwork. I think that all influences teaching approaches. However, I also think that cultural changes contributed to new teaching approaches. In H807 we recently talked about social cues, and discussed if computer-mediated communication (CMC) if lacked the richness of face-to-face communication and is thus inferior. However, some researchers found out that less (less social and visual cues) can be more (better communication). Researchers like Ben Ze’ev (2003) or Joinson (2001)  found out that CMC actually contribute to a much greater openness and that people were willing to reveal a lot more private information as in a comparable face-to-face situation. You may want to have a look at these findings. Seeing the rice of social network sites (SNS) like Facebook or other sites shows that people are willing to open up. YouTube is a good example of self-presentation  and sharing, similar to SlideShare or social bookmarking, e.g. Delicious. Open Educational Resources (OER), like OpenLearn are becoming more and more popular.

Regarding the question how the subject I studied for my undergraduate degree I must say that studying Health Studies where I needed to take a lot of social courses next to my science courses, I came around behaviorist, humanistic, critical social and psychological perspectives and how they compete or sometimes complement each other. Skinner and the Pavlov’s dog was of course a subject in my science courses .

So yes I would say they somehow intertwine with each other and one thing that is for sure, it will further develop and change.

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