Ah it was so nice to escape for a day form university and... well visit another university haha. I guess my private universe revolves around the universities :-)
Yesterday we went to Iowa State University to attend Get Connected: ComETS Spring 2009 Symposium. ComETS stands for Community of Educational Technology Support. Mission of this new group, is bring together all ISU people interested in technology, and to promote dialog focused on technology in learning & teaching . We were invited by Travis Kramer as a guests.
Morning workshop was led by George Siemens from the University of Manitoba. Siemens is a scholar, writes and international speaker and consultant, assisting organizations to develop integrated learning structures and changes that they must make in order to address the challenges of an increasingly complex and overload with information world. Workshops were filled with interesting academic discussions traditionally not leading to any bigger conclusions. As much as I enjoyed listening to Siemens presentation and my colleagues exchange of thoughts, I could also see it being held in the nice bar with beers in our hands :-) But I had fun even sans beer :-)
Siemens was also a keynote speaker opening afternoon events. His presentation "The Impact of Connectivism and Networked Learning" was really interesting. His main idea was based on the fact that learning is a social process and knowledge is based on creating connections, the meanings between various external sources of information and our own knowledge base. This preached by Siemens idea of connectivism have four major principals:
1. Knowledge is networked and distributed.
2. The experience of learning is one of forming new neural, conceptual, and external networks.
3. Occurs in complex, chaotic, shifting spaces.
4 Increasingly aided by technology
The symposium was toped with "Lightning Strikes"- a ten minute presentations about emerging technologies and its usefulness in academia. I really enjoyed the Scott McLeod's (on a picture) presentation about Twitter. Hi presented the case for Twitter in academics in series of captured Twits.
What I took from that all day event? The main change in the perception of education is to realize that teacher is no longer be a gatekeeper to the information and with the information overload and complexity of the fast changing world it is impossible to be an expert in everything. Often students have more knowledge in some aspects (i.e. technology) than a teacher and a teacher must be prepared to embrace that and use it to support students learning (making connections). The concept of the teacher as a facilitator rather than disseminator is not new, but changing the models of teaching-learning never felt so urgent. These days we are getting knew knowledge from many resources we are creating our personal learning networks (PLN) that may include peers, parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, but also not-human resources like blogs, websites, TV, radio, books, magazines... It is important to realize how we choose elements of information to connect them to create meaning for ourselves. How to critically sort through all the information? We are constructing our knowledge through the matrix of our own experience, hence we are more receptive to see connections with something that we already know. Since teacher theoretically should has larger knowledge base than student, his or her role is to help students to make the connections with knew information.
Panta rei - Everything is in a state of flux, said famously Heraclitus the Ephesian some two and a half thousand years ago. World is changing, technology is changing, deal with it!