Sunday, August 21, 2011

Filling holes--

There are huge holes in my learning-- big hunks, so big that I am so ignorant of them I have no idea what they are until I run into them head on. (I think they are a result of my "just in time" learning and my total immersion in my classrooms over a number of years, but at this point the why is unimportant.) What is important is that knowledge building ran into me head on in the PLP ecourse teaching online. I am embarrassed; for a bit I thought I won't admit that I didn't have a deep understanding but decided learning and this rush was too good not to share.

I have used the term knowledge building and had a sense of what I believed it meant for learning. Yet when I searched the web prior to the posting of the week's discussions, I discovered terms and concepts with which I was unfamiliar, traveling from page to page skimming, then off to check another term-- some serious wayfinding. And when I started to explore the topic with some of the breadcrumbs Sheryl left for us to follow, I couldn't stop, I was even more hungry. (So these analogies to breadcrumbs and wayfinding are muddled here a bit but they fit where I am right now.)

Why did I not know this? Why don't I have a clear understanding of cognitive presence? What are the phases? What is the knowledge forum? What are rise above notes? Is all of this new; where have I been? And I went looking-- and my to do list, well it's still there waiting for me-- there are about 30 tabs open in my browser around what I have been exploring.

And then as I read, first I lamented not having this base from which to refine my practice prior to this; then I began making connections--

Rise above notes intrigued me--- what a wonderful use of technology! I wonder if it is clunky technically in the Knowledge Forum? It's similar to the interventions we learned to create in MOOM, an inquiry online course into facilitating online in an inquiry environment where initially the moderator would take snippets of discussion to highlight concepts folks had contributed and end with a question. As the course progressed the learners in the course followed the model. What has struck me, that I didn't fully recognize before, is this takes learning to a completely new level.

How to create the environment enabling this happening in the e course I am planning? How can I help all learners make connections so they can begin new discussions? Would it make a difference if we included in the title or tag high rise? I'm thinking on this and other ideas-- just beginnings. I continue reading, seeking deeper answers to my questions. What a rush!

I love when stuff begins to come together-- from one of Sheryl's tweets later in the day:
"1. Start with a question.

2. Zero in on unfamiliar words, phrases, symbols or expressions. “Bayesian analysis,” “Fourier transform”—Wikipedia, Scholarpedia or Wikiversity might be good places to start, but you’ll want to follow the links from there to source materials, papers, textbooks, book excerpts on Google, and others.

3. Do some serious reading. You may have several tabs open at this point. This phase can last hours or days. You may also want to try sample problems or exercises.

4. Ask someone a question. You may want to locate some experts on the topic, through Slideshare, Youtube, blogs, Twitter, or more. Or you can search forums or other online learning communities for help.

5. Test and demonstrate your knowledge. MIT Open Courseware, Khan Academy, and other sites may have sample problems. Or you can go onto a forum and answer someone else’s question. Or blog about your discoveries!"
That's just what I was doing. Open, inquiry learning yet there's still a big piece missing and that is my participation in my community to share, be questioned, make connections, find patterns and build knowledge with my colleagues.

If I can get this excited at this age, just imagine classrooms full of youngsters, schools full of teachers engaging in knowledge building and inquiring into topics for which they have an interest -- the synergy-- the learning--

Photo credit


takefive said...

So my question might be this....

Are students prepared to do this kind of work? What do they need to find the same joy as you do....more hard skills or is this really creating a disposition in them?

How do we motivate our schools to look beyond the bubble tests and strategize about how to build these (whatever you think they might be) into the curriculum? and into the culture of school?

Anonymous said...

Watching little ones learn, I think that we have innate dispositions to inquire about topics in which we have an interest. Given current school experiences, I think that if we provide an environment, nurture and cultivate this disposition -- we may likely be amazed at the outcomes.

I know that for some who are truly learning challenged in some way there may be a need to more fully cultivate and grow the disposition.

I've experienced with high schoolers incredible synergy for learning-- in a two week summer experience prior to beginning a program, they became incredibly self directed-- parents called asking what was I doing that their son/daughter was on the computer exploring topics from the summer institute, creating artifacts of learning and leaving other fun summer activities by the wayside.

I'd like to think that a change in culture can come from the ground up-- that if teachers, parents and students seek a change in culture, it can happen. In reality, I know that leadership that supports, even if they don't take the lead, is critical. One teacher, her/his students can be a ripple that can become a wave--

Do you think?