Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Have My Own Tools Thanks

I had an interesting dichotomy erupt during a conference presentation -attended by faculty and sessionals (grad students). When speaking about the use of social technology (OK people are social not technology but still labels are useful), anyway, a student stood up and asked "Why don't we use the tools we already use? Why not Facebook and IM or SMS chat or Ipodcasts?' To which an instructor responded (first year instructor) and said "Why should we have to use their tools - why don't they have to use ours (eg. Blackboard, Elluminate) if they attend our schools?" The discussion that ensued covered a lot of ground - from privacy to control issues, to autonomy, to freedom, to opportunity, to technology burdening to copyright issues and learning ownership.

I also had a slight mutiny in a course I TA'ed. (I spoke of this before) I established an internal installation of Elgg for the students to use as for personal reflection, project planing, collaboration and resource maintenance. Howeverthe day I demostrated and registered them to the Elgg environment our server sucked big time and it was slow and painful. By the next day all students had exited to the tools they know - Facebook, SMS and IM. Of course I blustered and countered with a posting about Facebook security and copyright issues, and of the CIA involvement - but it fell on deaf ears.

So another question to ponder. Do we build and support a series of loosely connected tools (eg. Elgg environment? Are we just creating another LMS? Should students use their own tools and networks? Why shouldn't their space be a learning space? Mind you I'm not sure the students really want their private world (Facebook) merged with their academic world.

1 comment:

Artichoke said...

I think that this is a conversation that many educators will be nudging up against in future. I get something similar from the ictpd cluster teachers I work with when I try to entice them to work in our contract provided online environment - its clunky and they exhibit "grudging compliance" if they use it at all.

Konrad Glogowski has just posted something about student blogging using 21Classes that supports your thinking

The ability to create a virtual space that is uniquely one’s own turned out to be much more important than I had anticipated. It helped the students define themselves as individuals, not pupils who use a teacher-sanctioned tool to post work. When I compare student blogs from two years ago or from last year to the personalized blogs that the students created with 21Classes, I see a collection of individuals, not a classroom. I see evidence of personal engagement but no evidence of an institutional setting. The uniformity that the other platforms forced upon us was gone and what emerged was a creative and engaging mosaic.