Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wide Open 2: Lake Erie and Collaboration in Blended Learning

Captured from
Twenty-four hours and 12 inches or more later (referencing previous post)
The lake remains wide open
And the snow has moved to the south and east
Exemplifying the potential of so many possibilities

And I continue to reflect on similar potential and possibilities for wide open collaboration in blended learning, stretching perhaps key concepts from Chapter 2 reading for BlendKit2017--

As an advocate of minimal guidance for learning and yet recognizing
"The conceptual network of an expert is more richly connected, nuanced, and diverse than that of a novice." Gardner, H. (2006). Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. (quoted in the reading)
however, sensing they are not mutually exclusive. What is/can be the potential for learning if the "design and incorporation of environmental cues" lends itself to wide open collaboration and skillful, accomplished questioning by an expert learner throughout the collaborations? Questions that mediate thinking and enable more novice learners to make those connections and recognize those nuances?

Collaboration-- moving from interaction to wide open collaboration and meaningful conversations among learners and even more than conversation to co creation and co construction may open wide avenues for learning. Baker, Jensen and Kolb highlight the importance of the conversations:

"Conversation is at once the most ordinary and most profound of human activities. It is ubiquitous, ever present, and all around us.  In it many forms-- face to face, telephone, among written texts, or in cyberspace-- conversation is a process of interpreting and understanding human experience."  --Conversational Learning: An Experiential Approach to Knowledge Creation, Baker, Jensen and Kolb 2002
What if in those conversations, those interactions, an expert learner(s) injects skillful questions? In what ways does that engender deeper learning? The art of questioning that effectively mediates thinking and learning is a skill I strive to become more adept at and requires lots of practice and reflection. It's one that appears essential to me for both face to face and blended learning facilitation of conversations. Brett Creech in his post questions the possibilities of asynchronous discussions and this caught my attention:
"asynchronous conversations take place in the impersonal comfort of a graded discussion forum where it was required for students to post an original thought and two responses to fellow students.  Students are expected to keep the conversation civil and it’s written down as a rule of conversation, and to stay on topic.  This is not to say there can’t be strong debates in an asynchronous environment, but a lack of non-verbal communication may not make readers of another student’s post fully aware of that student’s passion for or against the topic of the day."
I guess I'm wondering and thinking that encouraging the development of a community of learners and their collaboration in addition to modeling leveraging the affordances of technology in conversations with images and/or video in conjunction with skillful questions and a light online voice might/can alleviate the flatness of a text environment.

In addition to those conversations, I'm wondering on also stretching the interactions noted in the reading more wide open, moving from interaction to collaboration and co constuction/co creation. Not explicitly mentioned in the reading as trust building-- opening activities to get to know each other, using a wiki to "state viewpoints" create that kind of trust needed to participate in co construction of knowledge and civil discourse. Minus relationships and trust, isn't that learning is restricted and restrained?

What if an initial activity might be the co creation of a online presentation that delineates initial understandings of a topic? Like this created by learners in the March 2016 Blended Learning course from Powerful Learning Practice?

Or in a collective wondering, participating together in developing learner questions on the topic under consideration. Using Todays Meet, Twitter with a hashtag, a chat service or a Google Doc, bringing learner questions back into face to face discussions. In this example, the questions from a collective wondering in The Connected Educator Month Book Club have been "chunked" by leaders and then everyone added their thoughts and ideas to the questions.

An additional example of co construction of knowledge is the following collaborative presentation from a unit on the study of building trust online. In addition to the ideas from learners in the course, the twitterverse was invited to add their thoughts too.

The co construction piece, in the open, seems pretty powerful to me as I've observed from the facilitator role learners co creating repository of resources around a topic, annotating resources together (much like in this MOOCs readings), creating study guides, and moving up Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's connected learner scale to collective action.

Those co creations, that collective action, those conversations enable wide open possibilities for profound learning, in my humble opinion.

Which brings me back to the lake and wide open-- with a wide open lake this time of year, it is beautiful and there are uncertainties requiring the expertise of our weatherperson who is critical in guiding our actions and keeping us safe. It seems to me this is the same with learning. Designing and creating open wide learning, in this case blended learning in which collaboration (interaction) leads to incredible possibilities necessitates designers with expertise in creating just the right conditions and facilitation that can minimally guide learners to vast open landscapes of learning yet realized.

As always, thinking and reflecting on this to be continued----

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