Welcome Scott Moore to the ed-blogger list from the University of Michigan whose blog already has me learning. He’s thinking big blog ideas…like over 1,000 students in a section big. Oy. At least he’s thinking like Barbara Ganley in terms of highlighting the best posts from him mini blogosphere in his own course blog. But 1,000 students. Sheesh. Hope he has a lot of teaching assistants…
Anyway, Scott writes about the Cluetrain Manifesto as it applies to education, and I think the vision is, as they say, spot on.
The Cluetrain authors point out that the internet has restored the original conversational dynamic of the marketplace, where individuals exchange information in their authentic voices. Similarly, in education the internet can bring the conversational dynamic to large (distributed or not) courses, where individuals exchange ideas, research, and opinions online.
Applying the concepts of the Cluetrain to education, the internet heralds the end of “education-as usual,” ending information asymmetries forever. “Education-as-usual” is characterised as both top-down control of students by a de-personalized university and a barrier erected between students and the university’s professors. In the traditional education model, lectures are one-way channels through which students are bombarded with information. Top-down, cookie cutter, de-personalized lecturing has become an annoying barrier to education, the opposite of a conduit to real learning.
Professors (and universities) that do not join the conversation will soon have no students to talk to. The internet enables students to talk about the professor amongst themselves. Encouraging professors to join in conversations with students enhances the professor’s credibility and increases the chances that the professor’s voice might be heard.
Weblogs offer a way for a professor to reclaim a place in the education of students using the professor’s authentic voice. Blogging helps a professor build a community around a course and increases his students’ commitment to the ideas discussed in the course. Blogging is individualistic, customized, and scalable. It originated in individual conversations and is a ground-up, grassroots phenomenon. Technology is changing the modern university.
The end of education as usual. Hmmm… Could we be at the beginning of the end? (Last night’s speech sure didn’t sound like it.) But I think we are at the beginning of the realization that the Internet is presenting new and valuable opportunities for learning, and that at some point, students and teachers taking advantage of those opportunities will overwhelm the idea that every student must learn the same thing at the same time at the same pace in the same place from the same person. More and more, teachers are beginning to connect these ideas, learn in different ways, see the potential. We are moving ever so slowly toward a more constructivist, collaborative, reality based form of learning, not schooling. And I really believe that as what happens in our classrooms becomes more and more transparent, the pressure to change will come from more people and more directions. It feels painfully slow, right now. But the fact that my blog roll is growing every day makes it real, and real change, fast or slow, is worth the effort.