Supporting connected learners

Module 5.2 Skype and Twitter

I like Silvia Tolisano’s early assertion that there is a difference between a Skype call and a Learning call. As we are so often reminded, it is not the technology that is important but the learning that is enhanced by it. And of course, Skype isn’t the only video conferencing tool that the learning activities described could have utilised. Everything Tolisano describes has soundly constructed learning design as its foundation. From the activation of prior learning – the subject of the calls, the tools to be used, to what is to be done with the tools (tweeting, photographing, videoing), to feedback and reflection. Assigning the various roles made for a truly collaborative activity, not just a group project. The activities were scaffolded for the students – for example rehearsing asking questions by recording them was a great way to build confidence.

The post about upgrading assessment forms raises important points. As Tolisano says

If working (and communicating beyond face to face interaction) on a global team is/will be a crucial skill for our students to posses, how can we assess the skills, support, coach and guide students?

Read more at: http://langwitches.org/blog/2013/02/05/assessment-in-the-modern-classroom-part-two/

One of the biggest barriers to connected learning (for some teachers) is the “stickiness” of traditional assessment forms. Tolisano is bang on the money saying that new assessment forms cannot be additional, they must be upgrades or preferably replacements.

This has lead to the creation of the Taxonomy of a Skype Conversation, a valuable tool for reflection and perhaps aspiration – What sort of conversation do you want to have? What sort of conversation is the best to listen to? etc.

It is difficult for me to imagine how the teacher-learner interactions needed to guide the learners in these examples could take place digitally for such young learners. Yes, they learn a great deal from the person they Skype, but they are learning much more from the scaffolded activities taking place within the physical classroom (and online) with a teacher able to guide, instruct, coach and cajole. Could this happen with a distributed online classroom of third-graders? I don’t think so. Miller’s reflections included examples of online conversations leading to hands-on art and craft activities. The digital and physical work together for formal and informal learning activities.

Tolisano and Miller both use their online connections to support and inspire what goes on in their physical classroom and library. A fourth-grade teacher was persuaded to post her student’s book-trailer on a blog which led to it being viewed by the author herself and the subsequent Skype activity. Knowledge networking made it happen.

References

McClintock Miller, Shannon (2013/2014). Van Meter Library Voice. [blog]

Rosenthal Tolisano, S. (2011-2014). Langwitches Blog