Wednesday, July 02, 2003

"Back to school" caught me by surprise this time.

Got an e-mail yesterday from Lynn Davie @ OISE/UT telling me that a spot had opened-up in his summer session of CTL 1611. Boom, I'm a student again.

I'm really looking fwd to the course. I don't know much, if anything, about UNIX/CGI scripts, but I'll certainly learn alot more between now and September ;-)

I'm especially interested in "completing the loop" with "learners." On-line assessments which assess and prescribe and "serve-up" activities, exercises, quizzes and tutorials for learners "on the fly." Definitely a "non-trivial" task, but XML, SMIL and SVG might make it easier.

How does one assess and tutor the beginning user of on-line learning technology?

I'd suggest that the notion of community is key. Some call it a community of practice, others refer to it as a knowledge base. Call it what you will, I think there's is absolutely no denying the importance of the social aspect of learning.

Indeed, whilst exploring Dr. Davie's home page I happened across a paper he authored with Jason Nolan.
(Dr. J is the Scholar in Residence at the KMDI).

"DOING LEARNING: BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONIST SKILLS FOR EDUCATORS" -- a "constructivist" theory of learning which accounts for the social nature of any construct.

Constructionism - the N word as opposed to the V word - shares constructivism's connotation of learning as `building knowledge structures' irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it's a sandcastle on the beach or a theory of the universe...

I still struggle with how to make technology more accessible and engaging for learners. Until stakeholders are engaged in and by the process, the interaction required to form community won't be present. Regular readers of this diary have heard me talk of the importance of synchronous communication to "on-line communities."

Currently I'm experimenting with synchronous video. From what I've seen, I think it's a very valuable tool for "learner(s)...consciously engaged in constructing a public entity."