“Learning is social. New behaviors and information can be learned through observation and modeling in a social context.” (Bandura, 1977)
This is an exciting time in education, where educators are being encouraged to shift momentum from present learners with domain-specific content toward creating inquiry-based learning environments that establish deep and meaningful learning experiences. Technology resources such as social media and the internet support these shifts allowing educators to use the Web to capitalize on its greatest asset: purposeful and project-based collaboration.
This collaboration is critical. To consolidate their understanding of the content, learners need opportunities to problem solve, discuss, negotiate, and think with their peers. (Lloyd, 2004)
When learners speak, listen, and collaborate with their peers, learners develop a better understand of the content. (Willingham, 2009). This week’s blog will focus on three ways to increase learner engagement and collaboration in a blended learning environment.
The idea is simple. Instead of bookmarking helpful web resources to a personal computer, learners bookmark these resources via a publically accessed website (see examples below). This allows collaboration of resources, and exposure to content a learner may not otherwise be subjected.
Used especially effectively for debates, learner-generated reading lists, and group projects, Social Bookmarking increases collaboration, resource-sharing, and relationships between people and content. Some Social Bookmarking tools to consider:
Virtual journals know as blogs are replacing traditional notebook journals traditionally found in classrooms. Blogs allow learners to reference and link online resources as well as share their writing and coursework with peers as they reflect on the core content covered in class. Blogging provides opportunity for external feedback from peers, deep self-reflection and connections to course work, and the opportunity to reflect on the ideas of peers.
Used especially effectively for self reflection and peer-reviewed work, blogging can be used longitudinally in course work to measure progress over time. Some blog host tools to consider:
Mashups are a genre of interactive Web applications that draw upon content retrieved from external data sources to create entirely new and innovative services. The term “mashup” was borrowed from the music industry, where a new song is created from the vocal and instrumental tracks from two different source songs (usually belonging to different genres).
Used especially effectively for mapping and data visualizations, student projects and research, analysis of class and online discussions, news and digital storytelling, mashups are growing in popularity in blended learning environments.
Some mashup tools to consider:
- Article on use of mashups and potential educational uses from University of Texas: http://jabba.edb.utexas.edu/IT/new/Mashup.pdf
Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.
Lloyd, S. L. (2004). Using Comprehension Strategies as a Springboard for Student Talk. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 48, pp. 114-124.
Baker, D. W. (1989). Neuropsychology and Appropriate Modes of Instruction.
Willingham, D. T. (2009). Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom.