Learning at Your Service - Networks of Personalized Service
What a rainy morning - not much to do but hang around...then I remembered today is the day to post on Chapter 11!
What it's about...
The overall theme of Chapter 11 is that the new culture of learning is one of participation and personalization. Individuals contribute to the learning process.
A few pages at the beginning of the chapter explain some of the history of Facebook. Then the author gives a couple of examples of how blogs are used educationally. Mark Franeh has his students maintain their own blogs where they post their work and open it up to comments. Mr Franeh finds that students pay more attention to their thinking and their work when it is open this way. Another blogger is posting the diary entries of 17th century Samual Pepys. Readers can learn about the history and culture of the time from the day to day postings.
There is a small section of the chapter about how podcasts and webcasts can provide commentary on key educational issues. WorldBridges is one organization the author finds worthwhile in that regard. The biggest part of the chapter gives examples of participatory sites for online language learning. I find most of this book to be an overview of what's happening or what's out there and I have started listing sites and resources on paper with the pipe dream that I will someday check them out. Here are the language learning sites with brief descriptions and some bullets:
- Livemocha - online tutoring and chatting (text or voice) with native language users
- Mixxer - uses Skype, public chats, etc.
- LanguageLab - uses voice system of Second Life. Users have avatars and explore virtual worlds
- About.com - free language learning lessons and resources
- ChinesePod - teaches Mandarin Chinese through online podcasts. Podcasts are free, pay for transcripts, exercises etc. Podcast cover a range of interests such as sports, business, food etc. Liberates learner from physical, time, and teacher constraints.
- KanTalk - adds video
- ECPod - members participate by filming each other in everyday activities that can show language nuances and cultural innuendos.
- MentorNet - matches female and minority college students with professionals
- AskOnline - homework tutoring
- Tutor.com - NJ state uses this one, available for all students in state
- SMARTHINKING, TutorVista, and GrowingStars - tutors may be outsourced
- StraighterLine - developed by McGrawHill, inexpensive intro college courses with tutoring from SMARTHINKING
At the end of the chapter Bonk points out that the web is increasingly an oral culture with more and more conversations. Conversations make web learning more personalized, participatory, and interactive. Our teachers can now be anyone, anywhere, anytime. A goal is to arrive at a place where personalized learning is a standard accepted practice.
What I think....
As with the other chapters, I am grateful to have an overview of what's going on. I have not processed the information to the point where it translates to what I do with students. The teacher who finds his students pay more attention to their work when it is published online and open to comments must have spent some time working with them on how to comment constructively. Most of the sites I use (example - WCSH6.com) that allow comments deteriorate into name calling by the 6th comment.
Basically, I've been busy with a home improvement project that, like many home improvement projects, has become more involved than originally anticipated. I have been working on this instead of thinking about the book and how to apply it to my classroom. However, as a result of this book, I have been more aware of how I get information. Most of the information about how to do the project I got from the web: product websites, YouTube how to videos, websites on how to do the particular project, forums, etc. I had some face to face conversations with folks at Home Depot, and a phone conversation with someone at Behr who explained how to fix something that went wrong. I learned some things about using the products and fixing the problem that came up that I will be putting on the product reviews, not as a criticism, but just to relay what I learned from experience. This is an example of how, with the web, we are knowledge builders as well as consumers.