Reflections from Wiki Open Space

I attended part of the University of Canberra Recent Changes Camp which explored the use of wikis as a tool for teaching and learning. From some of the conversations I was stimulated to reflect on what tasks that people engage in that create stimulating environments for learning. I thought that if hosts of learning communities were more and more conscious of the way learning happens in individuals and groups, then managing and directing the web2.0 technology (and other learning processes) could become more purposeful and less dominated by the technology. I would be grateful for your advice and input on these matters but I saw the following domains of how we learn (we learn by changing or expanding our mind):

– Reading, listening, viewing to understand expert or knowledgeable references and people

– Expressing oneself by text, audio, video or other to articulate our understanding to others

– Expressing oneself as a member of a group collaboration by text, audio, video or other to articulate our understanding to others

– Self reflection by recording one’s own observations about one’s own thinking and feeling

– Group reflection by collaboratively sharing or recording group member’s observations about each other’s thinking and feeling

– Being given feedback by others or the situation

– others???

If these are the domains where learning happens, then my task as a host/facilitator/teacher is to design rich and engaging activities in each of these spaces and then use web2.0 tools (and others) to make it easy for the community of learners to undertake these activities. Just providing the tools and expecting people to behave in certain ways doesn’t necessarily create the environment that makes rich learning and collaboration possible. There also needs to be a culture of trust, emotional safety and willingness to stretch for learning and new thinking to emerge. I think we need open public spaces which also include self managing and self selecting safer places for deeper learning exchanges to evolve. Ground rules for trust, emotional safety and willingness to stretch are open and transparent for participants to self select participation that engages deeper levels of learning.

I wonder where do models of such spaces exist?

That’s enough reflection for now.

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5 Responses to Reflections from Wiki Open Space

  1. I totally agree Mark, but how do you engage people who are not used to this way of learning…people who are used to content being delivered to them? And what about the others who are concerned about ‘being’ in public online spaces?

  2. I wonder… are we taking for granted, that a teacher is a useful or even relevant element in learning? I’d refer to Postman’s Teaching as a subversive Activity, and of course Illich’s Deschooling Society, for insights on the potentially destructive role a teacher would play.

    On the matter of technology dominating the discussion, I’m thinking that’s entirely appropriate if we allow our scope of understanding on learning to widen. This is information and communication technology, as central to learning as roads, light bulbs, and utility services are to industrialised living. Noticing the depth of affordances and disruption of this technology is perhaps more important than our grasp on learning, limited by notions of “pedagogy” and institutionalised education. For me, influential texts on this line of thinking would be Illich’s Tools for Conviviality, and McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message.

    So with this perspective, I think your questions will be informed by an understanding of how learning happens and is made possible through this technology. What is it in Australian society that makes Wikipedia the 8th most visited website, despite formal teachers poor understanding of it? What things are marketeers doing to influence peoples interest and motivation to learn? What role does a formal teacher really have when aggregate volunteers are offering such services for free? What does literacy mean today?

    • markspain says:

      Thanks Leigh. I notice that I am attaching more value to learning that is emergent, than to technology or to teaching. Any medium that aids people self managing collaborating and innovating is an aid to emergent learning. The internet is key to this literacy as well as the less visible process of how we learn and change our minds.

      • Perhaps I misunderstand.. I focused in on:

        “..my task as a host/facilitator/teacher is to design rich and engaging activities in each of these spaces and then use web2.0 tools (and others) to make it easy for the community of learners to undertake these activities.”

        And suggested that no one is needed to design rich and engaging activities, because these already exist – both in the technology, but more, in people’s innate abilities the teach and learn voluntarily – if we could just remove the middle man…

        Of course, that middle man has occupied his space for a long time now, so you may be right is saying:

        “Just providing the tools and expecting people to behave in certain ways doesn’t necessarily create the environment that makes rich learning and collaboration possible.”

        Illich argues against this logic.

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