In the new book Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media, co-author Dr. Jon Dron makes the case for an online learning model that places a high value on social media and the connections that technology helps to create. But if you ask him about the role of technology in his own life, his response isn’t what you’d expect to hear from a technology enthusiast.
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“I’m on the side of the Amish,” he says. “If you’re going to use technology, then you need to think carefully about the consequences — not just for yourself but for your community.”
It may not be what you expect to hear, but it exemplifies the careful approach that Dron and his co-author, Dr. Terry Anderson, take to the issue of social software in their new book. While the authors call for traditional education to change, they also call for it to change wisely.
Dron and Anderson introduce a new model for understanding and exploiting the pedagogical potential of Web-based technologies, one that rests on connections — on networks and collectives — rather than on separations. Recognizing that online learning both demands and affords new models of teaching and learning, the authors show how learners can engage with social media platforms to create an unbounded field of emergent connections. These connections empower learners, allowing them to draw from one another’s expertise to formulate and fulfill their own educational goals. In an increasingly networked world, developing such skills will, they argue, better prepare students to become self-directed, lifelong learners.
Within the rapidly expanding field of educational technology, learners and educators must confront a seemingly overwhelming selection of tools designed to deliver and facilitate both online and blended learning. Many of these tools assume that learning is configured and delivered in closed contexts, through learning management systems (LMS). However, while traditional "classroom" learning is by no means obsolete, networked learning is in the ascendant. A foundational method in online and blended education, as well as the most common means of informal and self-directed learning, networked learning is rapidly becoming the dominant mode of teaching as well as learning.
Dron and Anderson also hope you’ll join in on some social learning over at teachingcrowds.ca, a website devoted to discussing the book.
Publisher: University of Washington Press (October 15, 2014).
About the Authors
Jon Dron is associate professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems and a member of the Technology-Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University. His current research concerns the social aspects of learning technologies, with an emphasis on methods and technologies that enable learners to help each other. He is the author of Control and Constraint in E-Learning: Choosing When to Choose.
Terry Anderson is professor and researcher in the Technology-Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University. His interests focus on interaction and on the use of social media in educational contexts. He is the editor of The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, the second edition of which won the 2009 Charles E. Wedemeyer Award.
Source: Athabasca University Press