One of these days, I’m going to make it to Educause. Until then, I will just have to enjoy the presentations I can find online. Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins has a marvelous slide show (featuring an excellent use of presentation software) called “Social Media and Education: The Conflict between Technology and Institution Education, and the Future,” that’s well worth a look:
I was especially struck by her insights about the changing role of educators in an information society, “relating as more experienced co-creators rather than employers.” I see this in my own practice in a class I’m teaching now in which I, and all my students, are blogging. I’ve done this a couple of times before in different classes, and in those courses I’m very much a co-creator with them in that experience rather than an employer-professor-taskmaster.
There are some real challenges to this as a pedagogical strategy, however. If you’re working at anything but an elite educational environment with hyper-motivated and highly skilled students, it can be difficult to get students who are used to the professor-taskmaster model of education to engage with social media in a meaningful way. The dilemma is not the technology, per se, as much as it is the shift in pedagogical strategy. For students who are used to mass-produced textbooks and multiple-choice exams, the unboundedness of blogging and being in charge of their own educational process can be a little disorienting at first. I try to provide my students with some structure by giving them a “Blog Rubric” for how their blogs will be graded, but still, this can be a daunting task for some students. Even with these challenges, I think it’s worth the effort for those us in front of the classroom to figure out ways we might shift our pedagogical strategy so that we become a “guide at the side” rather than the traditional taskmaster-employer-professor.