Thursday, November 09, 2006

Web 2.0 Meets SOTL - 3+ Big Questions

Recent and emerging Web-based tools (often referred to as "Web 2.0") extend the time and space for teaching and learning, as well as interaction and communication, in ways that both enhance and challenge these activities. Please consider some emerging questions about learning and teaching in emerging environments - classroom, online, hybrid - within the context of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL).

What are the most pressing questions, promising directions for scholarly research prompted by Web 2.0? How can (and should?) teachers use new tools to act more like researchers? What kinds of intra- and inter-institutional collaborations can build our knowledge about how to improve teaching and learning?

These 3 questions are expanded below, with some comments and references, after brief explanations of SOTL and Web 2.0.

"SOTL" "… fosters significant, long-lasting learning for all students; enhances the practice and profession of teaching, and; brings to faculty members' work as teachers the recognition and reward afforded to other forms of scholarly work. …"

From - CASTL Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at:

"Web 2.0" Very loosely defined term that includes blogs, wikis, MySpace, … for more than you need to know about this term, see: "What Is Web 2.0 - Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software" by Tim O'Reilly at:

(1) Most Pressing Questions?
What are the most pressing questions about the educational uses of Web 2.0 tools that should shape areas for research for those interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning?

How can this research be guided to be especially helpful to those who decide which Web-based tools and resources are most promising and worthy of investment and support?

(2) Teachers Use New Tools to Act More Like Researchers?
In her plenary for the ISSOTL 2006 Conference, Diana Laurillard asks:

"A research-based approach to learning design is not sufficient. Innovative teachers need to be able to act like researchers as well. Could teaching innovation be more like research - exploratory, building on the work of others, experimenting, redesigning, sharing ideas, a community…?"

* In what ways might emerging, Web 2.0 technologies, help teachers "act more like researchers" especially by providing new ways to capture data and evidence of learning and learning processes?
* Do all "innovative teachers" need to "act like researchers" vis a vis their own teaching?
* Is "teaching innovation" a goal in itself? Can teaching and learning be improved in ways that Laurillard would NOT describe as innovative?
* Are all effective teachers innovative?
* Are all good teachers aware of all their own gifts? Do they need to be?

See: "Personalizing Pedagogy"

which begins:

" There are many kinds of good teaching and good teachers -- just as there are many kinds of learners and learning. New applications of technology have made it possible to respond to different learning needs more realistically and intentionally. Now it is also becoming possible to enable more faculty to improve teaching and learning in different ways. Information technology offers new options for matching diverse needs with diverse gifts. [Information technology can be the excuse and the means to ....]"

(3) Collaborate to Build Knowledge about How to Improve Teaching and Learning: Institutional and International?

What new kinds of collaborations around the investigation of teaching practice and student learning do new Web 2.0 technologies support that weren't possible before these tools were readily available?

Can you describe an instance in which faculty members, educational technologists, and other academic professionals collaborated on projects in which they used new technological tools to gather evidence of student learning and then used this evidence to support the improvement of teaching practice? To support the improvement of educational uses of technology?

What possibilities do you see for such collaborations?

Are there research or inquiry themes for which you are seeking collaborators?
What factors are likely to help make this collaboration effective? Already established patterns of communication within the institution?

What, if any, are the likely sources of misunderstanding, miscommunication? Lack of shared vocabulary? Lack of awareness and understanding of each other's conceptual frameworks? Priorities? Interests? Assumptions about how the world works?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the excellent questions. As we consider Web 2.0 technologies, including rich media enhancements, I hope we will always keep in mind the need to insure the accessibility to the handicapped of the tools we develop and use. Without thoughtful design and use, these technologies have a real potential for simply excluding people with disabilities from participation. This topic is being actively explored by IBM, W3C, Adobe, and others. See...
    In many ways this is a technical issue outside the scope of the TLT discussions, but I feel the educational community must make it clear to companies developing the software and the developers themselves that diversity and accessibility are priorities in the Academy. I hope as we explore the potential of Web 2.0, we will keep an eye out for inadvertent impacts that run counter to our goals and values.


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