Sunday, February 12, 2012

Learning is ...

Learning is ... social
The past few weeks saw a few more guests enter my classroom, and a lot of good learning took place as a result. John Finch (@jfinch), from Manitoba Education, was on campus on Jan 26 and he literally sat down with my Internet for Educators class (pre-service teachers in the last term of their after degree B.Ed. program) and had an amazing 1.5 hour conversation. It was learning in action; informal, frank discussion and exchange of ideas. The topic centered on using technology in education, however the real topic was learning. How do we make use of the power of the Internet to make learning come alive? This was exemplary social learning as we all shared thoughts about many issues, and the learning continued later as students reflected on the experience in their blogs. The importance of social interaction in learning cannot be overemphasized, we negotiate meaning, make sense, and learn deeply through dialogue. David Weinberger's new book "Too Big To Know" (which is the topic of an #edbookclub on twitter) has many examples of this. In fact he states "knowledge has always been social" (p, 51).  Check out my student blogs to read about the growth and learning going on.

Learning is ... reflective
The following week, two friends from Winnipeg, the dynamic duo of Andy McKiel (@amckiel) and Darren Kuropatwa (@dkuropatwa) visited campus to deliver a professional learning opportunity on building empathy. This session was, from all reports, excellent, however it is the time they spent in my two Using ICT in Education classes (students in the first year of an after degree B.Ed.) I want to write about. In the 50 minute class time, these two excellent educators talked about creative commons, showed off several very useful tools, and created a slideshow that completed the statement 'Learning is ...". The results are below, I think you will agree that there are some powerful slides & ideas. So often we go into a classroom and 'do our job' and do not often reflect on what we really believe about learning. When we do stop and reflect - the real goal of this exercise - what do we see? How does our practice reflect those beliefs? A simple activity like this can lead to learning itself. We all should take time to reflect on what we are doing. Do our actions reflect our beliefs about learning? If not, what can we do to change so that they do? Take the time, become a reflective practitioner - you and your students deserve it!