Alexandre Enkerli recently posted a presentation dealing with enthusiasm, teaching, and active learning. The post builds on his earlier writing, “Technology Adoption and Active Reading”. The discussion between Pamthropologist and Michael Wesch also dealt with motivating learning, and I think the idea of “enthusiasm” is pretty important.
Using new technologies can be a way to bring out enthusiasm in the class, which in turn motivates interest and hence learning. Enkerli’s WiZiQ presentation discusses the need to get teachers, students and administrators motivated to use these new technologies. He writes,
“To a large extent, universities and colleges have been slow to adopt the online tools and approaches which are taking educational technology by storm. Apart from technical hurdles, there are diverse obstacles to the adoption of “neat new toys” in the context of higher education. By discussing these obstacles, we may be able to overcome them. Simply put, how can we get college and university people excited about the possibilities afforded new online technologies? This WiZiQ session will be a workshop on some ways to generate enthusiasm for educational technology in higher education. A short presentation about online advocacy will be followed by an open discussion about people’s experiences in motivating learners, administrators, and colleagues into trying out new tools and approaches.”
I highly recommend listening and watching, as I’ve been laughing all morning after listening to first part of the discussion where they test the technology to make sure everything is working correctly. I’ll also be looking out for more future presentations using the WiZiQ platform as it seems to work really well.
[My notes from the presentation and discussion]
I really like the idea of “playfulness” Enkerli advocates. I think its true that the university promotes a kind of seriousness that is related to being “professional”, which I find is unnecessary to learning.
He discusses the possibilities of bridging life and learning.
- Building context for learning.
- Informal learning.
- holistic exploration of technology as opposed to causal/deterministic
- “tools meant to be used” -> “does it do what you want” = not technology fetish, but rather about possibilities to use it. [options are good]
- rehearsal vs performance -> use rehearsing strategies with technology integration. [best use not always immediately apparent]
- “Who do we want to enthuse?” – learners (primary audience), colleagues (tech staff, teachers, administration) [cannot act alone]
- Diverse group of learners – different backgrounds, learning styles, “ways of knowing” model. Different ways of teaching too. [need options, best not to impose]
- Types of motivation – can be very motivated in the wrong directions. Need to channel/direct motivation rather than develop it.
- Different levels of comfort with technology. Many students uncomfortable with new tools. “It’s not necessarily the students who want us to use the tools.”
- Need to develop enthusiasm among teachers. “The more teachers that use the tool, the more useful it becomes” -> “network effect”.
- Some teachers very much against new technologies -> and some department chairs/heads -> “decision makers”
- Need to collaborate with technical staff to find right solutions. [hard to do it all yourself. Value of community support]
- Enthusiasm spreads – powerful effect getting more people involved – snowball effect. “The entourage matters”.
- Resist tools based on social identity – “don’t want to be a geek”. “negative reactions to technology”.
- Adopting technology through consensus in community.
- Don’t impose tech or ideas, just “plant the seed” -> “planting land mines”. [who knows when it will be useful]
- Need to get some momentum and at some point “things just start to happen”. [ie, students use of a forum]
- “Unintended uses” -> adoption. Example he gives of how a class adopts a chatroom – first used to discuss pizza, but developed comfort and soon started using it for the math class as well. “assess the comfort level”.
- Not forcing students to use tools, just make them available. Allow people to adopt at their own speed. “Here’s whats possible” + adapt to different groups.
- Encourage getting students to speak to one another -> forums, etc.
- Let students manage their own privacy – give them more credit. “I think they are aware of the issues”. [discussing the use of facebook]
- Other techs discussed -> refworks, diggo, wordpress, blogger, twitter, identica, slideshare, Wikipedia
One participant in the discussion mentions that Facebook has been banned at her university. [not sure which University]
A middle-school teacher is having trouble with the schools banning technology/website. Ie: Voice thread. Enkerli points out that those technology decider’s are one of the primary group that needs to be encouraged to use the tools [not just teachers and students, but administrative staff too!].
- “Using technology as a backup to things going on the class” – Participant – Ron.
- “Need the tech staff to be our friends”.
- but technology staff also overworked, often only focusing on tech problems like viruses, and keeping machines working. They aren’t focused on using technology for learning. Need to develop enthusiasm among tech staff too.
- WiZiQ -> good sound quality, but still issues with people not muting the mic (“push to talk” would be nice).
- “Very visual – almost like a private lesson.”
- Lots of speaking over each other.
The WiZiQ platform is a great virtual classroom. The participants “played” around with the whiteboard features, listened to the presentation, and then discussed it online. There were issues getting mic levels setup properly, and there was also some talking over each other/leaving mic on (feedback) issues, but overall it was a very succesful presentation – Next time I’ll be sure to show up on time so I can participate. [but it sure is nice to be able to review the whole thing as if it were live!].