Sunday, November 26, 2006

A theory of mobile learning

Working on the writing of the literature review for my thesis I came across a paper by Mike Sharples, Josie Taylor and Giasemi Vavoula theorising about mobile learning (2005). I found their emphasis on informal learning very interesting. When looking how Web 2.0 tools are currently changing the communications landscape on the Internet, I came to the same conclusion that formal education will have to be supplemented by informal selfdirected learning to ensure that learners can choose their own learning journey, but still verify the information out on the Web by communicating with others online.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Do we need new theories of knowledge and learning?

Over the ages numorous theories of knowledge and learning have been developed, including behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. The use of technologies in adult education has made that people think more about why they teach in a certain way, as the technologies used should be determined by what we try to achieve and why. If we want to facilitate extensive communication between learners in the learning environment, we will for instance use very different tools from when the tutor has the knowledge and she passes this on to the learners.

Of course this is not part of what happens in the visible class room, but it will influence the way we teach.

This week George Siemens published his book 'knowing knowledge' on his website elearnspace in which he introduces a new theory : connectivism. He argues that the new dimensions that online networks and extensive online connectedness will bring into the learning environment warrant a new theory of learning. A debate has started with Professor Plon Verhagen who argues that we should forget about connectivism as it does not really add anything new to earlier theories.

I would like to add that Siemens very easily disregards an area of expertise that has developed over centuries because some new tools have emerged. I agree that the Web2.0 tools add a new dimension to communication, particularly as the networks that can be reached are much larger than you would in a face to face class room and also that the use of RSS feeds helps to organise these globally positioned contacts, which gives you the potential to develop wider and a different type of knowledge. The control moves away from the institution and towards the learner. Anecdotal avidence by enthusiasts would suggests that this enriches the learning experience. Research into the effect of these new technologies is required though before it would be wise to build new theories.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knowing knowledge

Just read about George Siemens' new book 'knowing knowledge'. As it is 157 pages long I haven't managed to read all of it yet, but it looks very interesting. He poses interesting ideas on knowledge and at the first instance it seems to me that he has very easily disregarded the way knowledge has been developed and created over the past centuries. I agree that Web 2.0 tools provide us with interesting new possibilities for networking and communication, but that they will be maningful in the creation of knowledge is in my view not clear yet. Communication theories by Habermas and Heidegger put in doubt the creation of knowledge in a meaningful way through the use of technology as the commmunication facilitated through technology is very different from face to face dialogue.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Getting back to the blog with a vengeance

I just realised how fast the time flies after looking at my first blog entry in June 2006. Currently really enjoying teaching the post-graduate course 'ICT in Society'. The students on the MA in Lifelong Learning are all very keen to learn about the new online developments and seem very surprised about Web 2.0 developments. Surprisingly enough although most students are over 30 years old, they have embraced taking part in the discussion forum, have set up their own MySpace sites and are involved in using a WIKI for knowledge construction. Prensky's paper on digital natives and digital immigrants has been thought and discussion provoking! On several occasions I have had to adjust my f2f teaching as their online discussion of papers found on the course site during the week has gone much further than I anticipated. The use of has been very useful and given students options for the exploration of popular course-related papers.