Quote: “In communities, people learn in order to belong. In a collective, people belong in order to learn” (p. 52). This sums up the evolution of learning that has resulted in personal learning networks. Rather than having to find belonging to “fit in,” one can find their own niche and then make their personal connections with others in the same collective, which opens the door to more learning and more meaning. There’s no pressure to belong, either, which makes collectives enticing for all learners; however, everyone loves to learn, especially things of interest.
Question(s): Because our current education paradigm of measuring learning is so persistent on doing so, how do we convince our administrators and districts to allow blogging as a space for establishing undefined and undirected collectives to exist? Do we make the blogs completely transparent and known in order to monitor the digital citizenship taking place? I’d hate to make students lose their authenticity and any chance for innovation when sharing ideas in their own classroom collective. Should I still “teach” explicit information that is stable (math) through inquiry, yet also allow for a collective for students to share the immeasurable concepts?
Connection: I like how Dr. White, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown all acknowledge the same points: “But equally important is the ability to add one’s own knowledge to the general mix. That contribution may be large, such as a new website, or it may be a series of smaller offerings…” (p. 52). This reference to transforming into residents of the Internet and learning through collectives is key for contributing one’s personal identity to the world.
Epiphany: This chapter made me really think about what a collective is and how it’s not a community. It now makes sense. In a community, you’re a “member;” in a collective, there is no reason to feel pressured to belong, and we are free to focus on things we find valuable, which may change. Collectives allow us to feed off the ideas we really want to see, from people with similar passions. That doesn’t always exist in communities.
Chapter 5: The Personal with the Collective
Quote: “Substitute ‘new culture of learning’ for ‘jazz’ and ‘traditional forms of education’ for ‘composed, formal music,’ and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves” (p. 67). It’s not that jazz music is trying to change the formal music; it’s simply allowing for a different type of expression, while still acknowledging the other forms. And who doesn’t appreciate jazz? It’s innovative, expressive, and is perfectly aligned with the emerging culture of change within education.
Question(s): How can we convince all institutions of learning that they shouldn’t feel threatened to conform to this emerging culture of change in the 21st century? That learning shouldn’t be “difficult and directed by others to meet the standards for academic rigor” (p.70)? Why is the world so slow to adapt to this change? Is it that uneasy to live in a world that doesn’t settle for complacency?
Connection: I’m finding that our own cohort and EDL 680 is exactly what this chapter describes. If you ask anyone who has talked to me recently, they will tell you that I’m more excited about learning than I have been in long time. We are using our blogs and Google Plus communities, as well as Twitter, to learn within collectives, which are limitless in variety. I have lost sleep contributing to blogs, viewing websites of other educators around the world, and I’m not complaining about it. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it (which is nerdy, I know). I’m making connections between this emerging culture of change to my own teaching and learning practices, and I’m eager to experiment when school resumes. I know there will be obstacles, but I have my new PLN/collectives to turn to and record my experiences to get feedback, maybe come up with new ideas to try.
Epiphany: A step up from chapter 4, in that now I’m realizing that my own personal learning network just a network of collectives, which I have chosen. And that the collectives I’ve elected to contribute to and learn from are all smaller entities of the giant EdTech community. The Twitter chats, Hangouts, Facebook posts and other outlets I’ve participated in by choice have all taught me much about myself and my practices in the classroom, creating an explosion of ideas for improving the learning of my students. Now I know that this endless brainstorming is the nature of the network of collectives, where people come to contribute authentically in order to learn.
Chapter 6: We Know More Than We Can Say
Quote: “When the idea is to ask questions, diversity is a good thing. Moreover, students are both willing and capable of learning from one another in deep and profound ways. They turn diversity into strength and build their own networked communities based on interest and shared passion and perspective” (p. 89). This quote, regarding the dispositions that result from various tacit experiences, reminds me of the “superhero” phenomenon in movies, particularly with the Marvel series. From Superman to Spiderman, every “hero” avenges evil using his or her own unique disposition toward good and the tacit experiences that we, the readers, learn about in their backstories. We should allow the diverse tacit experiences of our students to pose their own unique questions, making sure they each edify one another’s contributions.
Question(s): Is it the responsibility of the teacher, as a facilitator of learning, to teach students how to ask better questions that “rely on the tacit,” or is that the nature of an authentic collective? Do students naturally learn to ask questions about unknown things? Should we model by asking questions that can’t be answered with a Google search?
Connection: Dr. Michael Wesch, in his video post, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able,” mentions the problem with most “questions” he hears from students. They’re not really questions in that they don’t require a “quest” to obtain an answer. They’re shallow. Yet, that’s what our current education model is creating. Students are afraid to focus on their own passions and tacit experiences, feeling that they lack any sort of relevance to their own education. But after reading this chapter in A New Culture of Learning, I’m realizing that we teachers need to start reforming our own classrooms so that students aren’t afraid to contribute authentic, unique questions to problems, using their own stories, so that we can move away from any expected answers. Students need to stop focusing on standardized learning, and that starts with educators, as leaders.
Epiphany: Tacit learning is something I never thought to call that experiential, absorbed understanding that comes with real inquiry; the part of learning that can’t be taught. It makes complete sense, too, that tacit learning exceeds that of explicit teaching, because it never ends. Sure, explicit learning is necessary for stable information, but how much of what I teach will remain stable and/or relevant? I need to shift my own teaching to the students, asking them questions that teach me and themselves more than any expected answers; I need to tap into the tacit experiences that only individual students can access to bring their own questions about a particular problem to the table. This will lead to innovation that matters to the students (p. 81).
Thomas, D & Brown, J.S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington: CreateSpace.