Teacher as Learner in Web 2.0

Quarter of a year blogging! Hooray!!

OK, time for a personal whinge :-(

The last week has been a frustrating week in many ways, but the most frustrating of all has been the ‘negotiations’ I have had in discussion about my academic study program.

Supposedly in a Doctor of Science Education Program with a technology focus through Curtin University, I have come to the conclusion that unless I can find an academic environment that reflects the changing learning landscape of kids today I am totally wasting my time seeking to learn more about learning landscapes via an academic study program.

Really nice folks at the uni – don’t get me wrong – but just NOT giving me the learning extension that I need.

Here is an example – the reader for Learning Environements, which I must read (ok, I can do that) but which I also have to demonstrate that I understand (!) contains 16 papers, all from the 90s, and one only from 2001. Now you and I know that this represents Web 1.0 generation of thinkers. Even if they are ‘cool constructivist thinkers’, they are talking about a learning environment and learning landscape that is rapidly becoming irrelevant. While it is important to ground current research and learning in past knowledge and research – I do not have this option.

“You can add a bit on about Web 2.0 if you like, but do not make it the main thrust of your paper. You must demonstrate that you understand our philosophy”

Despite the fact that a previous module run by Peter Taylor extended my thinking on constructivism in marvelous ways, this time around I feel that being forced to operate in the constraints of the concepts presented in our Reader is really a great example of ‘enculturation’ and not at all about border crossing into Web 2.0 in theory and practice.

I suggest that practitioners in the field who are blogging and sharing their experiences through books, presentations, seminars, podcasts etc are teaching much more about what is possible than this academic approach to readers and stale research processes allows.

Practitioners such as Stephen Downes, Will Richardson, Doug Johnson, Stephen Abram, Michael Stephens, John Connell, Leigh Blackall, Ewen McIntosh, and Alan November are engaging with the learning needed in new environements, gathering me up in the learning as they go – something my current academic program does not do.

I suggest that attending events like The Global Summit will also help me along in my learning. I suggest that opportunities to interact with global colleagues like the event at TeachMeet06 will give me learning opportunities that no analysis of a “reader” would ever manage. How sad that I have to ‘regurgitate’ to prove that I understand.

What I have learned and continue to learn through social networking, Web 2.0 and peer to peer discussions is far superior to my current academic offerings.

My students and my schools are the priority. It is vital to innovate, have fun, and learn all at the same time…..so unless I can actively research SecondLife, or an aspect of Web 2.0 in 2007 …… that’s it to my current academic institution.

I want to thank all the wonderful people who have contributed to my professional learning – fantastic stuff for this teacher as learner.

11 thoughts on “Teacher as Learner in Web 2.0

  1. Pingback: What we talk about when we talk about web 2.0 (Part 1) «

  2. Lindy,
    I will find a new home I am sure – when the time is right and when the research has value for furthering our Web 2.0 understandings in education. In the meantime, I have tons to keep me occupied in order to keep developing my knowledge and understanding. Thanks, Judy

  3. Hi Judy
    Can I encourage yout o consider the freedom of a PhD program. I don’t know about other universities but I am studying at the University of Southern Queensland (an award winner for Online Learning – that’s whay I chose it as I thought they’d be sympathetic to my interests) under the supervision of Associate Professor Peter Albion who brings a broad and deep view of methodologies AND technologies to bear in support of my research. My topic is the design of a 3D virtual world for teacher professional learning using a specific pedagogy. All I have received is encouragement, support and collegiality. Perhaps you need the freedom of not being in a ‘course’ based doctoral program but a research based program with support from expereinced research supervisors. They not only support my investigation of cutting edge technologies, they provide server space and let me host stuff, are building their own nifty tools, constantly feed me good stuff THEY are reading about that stetches me and use the tools themselves.
    Find a new home!!
    Lindy

  4. This is to let you know that dropping out can come before or after the degree.

    I was lucky when I went back for my Ph.D. because I was able to do (pause for a big breath before I roll out the phrase) an Autoethnographic Arts-Based Narrative Inquiry, with phenomenological and ethnographic approaches (inhale!) to study my own learning as I moved onto the computer, the Web, and Web 2.0 – under Dr. Pat Diamond (originally from Australia.)

    My thesis was on learning to teach communications skills with this wonderful new technology. I travelled from technophobia to technophilia and OISE/University of Toronto allowed me to get my degree studying how that happened and its learning impact on me and in my classrooms.

    The irony is I was not allowed to use my Ph.D. in the Ontario Community College where I worked because it was in education, which has been ruled “not a discipline”. (A further irony, degrees in education are “counted” for administrative positions.) I also found it very difficult to get teaching assignments that used my computer and Web knowledge. I took early retirement, and I now teach part time at UTM in a program that values my degree and my knowledge, and have set up my own consulting & training business.

    I worry that the educational institutions are missing the Web 2.0 boat, and that our students are being poorly served. I still believe the university experience can be a broadening and depthening (I think I’ve just invented a new word) one and that legacy knowledge is very, very important. I don’t think that most areas in most institutions are courageous and fair enough to return the courtesy.

  5. Spot on! We have to evolve and people like Christian will help us do that. In fact, they will take over soon enough..and can you just imagine what the education world will look like then? Roll on change.

  6. Anne,
    Opting out (sounds awful!) was certainly not my first choice – my institution just wasn’t allowing me to get into what I needed. If another institution wanted to run with a PhD in this area I would be happy to resume with them. I am ready for research, but not ready for pushing old barrows around. Adding value to the learning community is paramount, and I do believe that we need some good grounded research in these emerging areas. When someone asks me? Makes me an offer I can’t refuse? I’ll be there! So the timing wasn’t right, but might be in the future. In the meantime, lets all keep working together to move the thinking along. Best of luck with finishing your PhD – never doubt, never give up. If you are able to pursue your desired research area it is vital that you get to the end. Maybe some day I can join you in that kind of success. ;-)

  7. Oh Judy – this is really sad.. :-(
    I was about to encourage you to use the energy from your frustrations to engage in grounded academic debate!
    Higher ed qualifications need people like you – people that challenge, that can construct an argument, that can make a difference – and we will only achieve change through engagement – not opting out…
    Having said that PhDs are tough – seriously tough… I’m close to finishing (perhaps – if I didn’t have 200 odd students to work with this semester I’d be closer to finishing) – masses of frustrations, self-doubt, long hours…no social life…shall I go on?
    Self-direct adult learning is all about synthesing your practise, combining it with your informal learning, your experiences and positioning within a body of knowledge (formally recognised) and perhaps – just perhaps getting people to re-frame, to shift, to open their minds to new and developing bodies of knowledge…
    Having a bunch of quals is fine…but using all that knowledge to add value to your learning community is a gift….
    If the time is not right for you now – I hope it may be in the future…in the meantime keep that energy focused on making a difference!!
    ABB :-)

  8. So it is all over, red rover! Curtin has already processed my withdrawal, and I will no longer have to try and fit my real needs into an artificial learning framework. I have got quite a bunch of degrees, and they did teach me lots of great things. But this last one was just not working at all, and that is because we are practitioners working with the changing landscape of education – and if academic programs are not up to speed with this change then academic degrees don’t work to help improve learning in this area.

  9. I’ve often felt inferior about my basic teaching qualifications (only a Diploma!) and wondered if studying for a Masters would something to aspire to – people with a Ph.D had me in awe – but I think I would agree with your current frustrations. It’s all becoming a bit irrelevant. If I decided to take up study like that, something would have to give in my life to make room for it. My job sucks up a lot of time, my family is the highest priority (certain reasons make things like extended time away from home extremely difficult) and then I have my Web 2.0 learning passion which I would not want to diminish in any way. You’re so right – the experts you mention are important resources of learning and so more relevant to the fast changing learning landscapes we are all trying to grapple with. And the blogosphere offers something that university course can’t and that is mutual learning. I would be surprised (but not displeased to be wrong) if the academics designing and implementing the courses you write about would be expecting to learn from their students. But that is exactly what happens on a daily basis – I learn from you, Judy, you learn from me, I point you to someone new, you point someone else to me and so the cycle of learning goes. How this will all shake out in classrooms around our nation is anyone’s guess, of course, but as adult learners who operate in a world where academic degrees and qualifications are still viewed with reverence, it might still be a while before “informal learning” of the style you are referring to becomes recognised as legitimate. But, I kind of like the idea that I deliberately don’t have a bunch of degrees after my name – so the challenge is in how I display and encapsulate the learning I have experienced, and put that to use in the context of my chosen profession.

  10. Congratulations Judy on your 3 month anniversary! I know what you mean about the difficulty of studying the things we are so passionate about. Maybe it is true what they say, that we as well as our students are not going to find the traditional academic spaces the places we do most of our learning

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