Sunday, June 15, 2008

Changing Education

Nair Maria neiborhood

I was reading George Siemens blog comments on changes in education. He cites David Wiley that says that the changes needed for reform in education would require actions similar to the ones carried out by Luther against the Catholic Church. I like the image and I think it is great comparisom, but I think a softer approach might work or not. I guess, we educators are too idealistic and naïve sometimes. Let me share with you some ideas I had on the subject. I had a very interesting conversation with a friend yesterday [we have a face to face study group on Connectivism and the use of technology in education (yes face to face is cool too)]. We were talking about the needs of incorporating technology into teaching. We discussed where we thought resistance to do it stemmed from and how to overcome it (you know: the old beaten to death subject). She asked about the idea of the institution adopting a blogging platform to all the students like the one mentioned in a text we were discussing. First I said, it was a top down thing and I would not agree with it. Then we pondered the pros and cons and I agreed with her that it might give web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis more credibility and promote the use of tools by faculty and students. So my question is this: Is giving freedom to teachers to use web 2.0 tools enough? Shouldn’t institutions and people in position of power such as supervisors and coordinators learn about them and start using them to promote change/adoption?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Power of Collaboration

I have been busy these days taking a course for E-tutors with the British Council. The idea of the project is to train E-tutors to teach EFL teachers from public schools in Brazil. In the beginning, I thought I would not have time to take the course because I am almost at the end of the semester and have lots to do.
I took the plunge and I am glad I did it. It has been fantastic to see the amount of experience being exchanged and the interesting converstions we are having in the course.
One thing I have noticed in the course is how collaboration can make learning effective and how it can make group work easier and fun.Collaboration made it possible for me. It was collaboration that allowed to defy the laws of physics and strecht the time line. My group is using a wiki to discuss ideas and some other groups are doing the same. Our wiki work developed in a way that I had not predicted. I suggested the wiki and we started adding our ideas. Wikis a re really good for asynchronous collaboration. I started labeling posts with group participants' names. Then someone start using the highlight feature everytime he/she posted and the rest of the group followed suit. The result is colorful and reflect the power and diversity of collaboration. I think that when you give people the power to create content, to contribute the results are always impressive.