Education experts say the future of learning will be determined by students

3 05 2010

WWW 2010 - "The Future of Learning is the Web." From left to right: Negar Mottahedeh, Mark Anthony Neal, Tony O'Driscoll, Cathy Davidson. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker.

Though they discussed a wide array of topics, the Future of Learning Panel centered its conversation on one theme articulated by session Chair Cathy Davidson: “How do we make the most of traditional institutions and unite worlds that are not always part of our institutions as traditionally conceived?”

The panel consisted of five professors from Duke University:

  • Cathy Davidson, co-founder of HASTAC – the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory
  • Laurent Dubois, a historian of French colonialism and the Caribbean
  • Negar Mottahedeh, a highly respected academic author who staged the first-ever Twitter Film Festival
  • Mark Anthony Neal, the author of four books, a frequent commentator for National Public Radio and contributor to several on-line media outlets
  • Tony O’Driscoll, author of “Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration,” with Karl M. Kapp.

In addition to discussing the future, the panelists talked about some of their individual experiments with  technology in the classroom. Mottahedeh spoke about her experiment with the Twitter Film Festival in her introduction to film studies class. Students posted video clips to a class blog and Tweeted about them with links to analysis. The effort attracted more than 300 followers from all walks of life.

Dubois is currently working on a project called the Haiti Lab that will link Haitian students with faculty through the Internet to continue education while the country is still in a state of disrepair.

WWW 2010 - "The Future of Learning is the Web." From left to right: Laurent Dubois, Negar Mottahedeh, Mark Anthony Neal. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker.

“There’s a need for the university to be a space of rapid reaction,” he said. “Haiti needs an immediate plan and action.”

Davidson drew national press attention by writing a blog post titled “How to Crowdsource Grading,” which encouraged educators to use peer learning to evaluate students’ work and make it public. Now that the end of the semester is approaching, Davidson said her class did surprisingly well, producing a high caliber of work and motivated by the fact that it will be published.

O’Driscoll is teaching a class in which students put all deliverables into the creative commons and evaluate one another’s work. He said students held one another accountable for the material they produced, even asking to use his criteria to assign grades.

Neal has used his classes to take students’ knowledge into the Durham community through live webcasts, one of which drew 10,000 viewers. He also posts prompts to his exam questions publicly to employ generative learning.

Much of the panel’s spirited discussion was generated from audience questions, addressing issues like the use of Twitter during class, the ways technology affects student attention, and computer games as motivational learning.

“To allow students to be on their blackberries and computers is giving up a lot of power associated with being in ivory tower,” Anthony said.

WWW 2010 - "The Future of Learning is the Web." Cathy Davidson. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

Though some argue that electrons distract students rather than enhance their experiences in the classroom, Davidson pointed out that just because students stare at their instructors does not mean that they are paying attention.

Some of the panelists felt that the use of social media during class could actually enhance the student experience. O’Driscoll said he uses a class hash tag to monitor student interest and questions, as a replacement for the “note card technique” of collecting questions. There are even filter applications available to help determine the most relevant questions.

“Teaching does not exist in a pristine way,” Davidson said, noting that learning will continue to change as technology advances.

O’Driscoll said he hopes that more educators will follow the example of a game-based school called Quest to Learn that uses the “magic circle” method to enthrall students. He said teachers need to find “the magic between solid instructional design and the magic circle, and ground it deeply in good, solid pedagogy.”

Mottahedeh ended the discussion by noting that it isn’t the technology that will determine the future but the students.

“Students are the difference in the world, and we’ll figure out together how they will make that difference,” she said.

– By Rachel Cieri

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THIS EVENT…
Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

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The Future of Learning is the Web

26 04 2010

FutureWeb 2010 Conference, Raleigh, N.C., April 30, 3:30-5 p.m.

Chair: Cathy Davidson, professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University. Davidson is the co-founder of HASTAC – the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory. Her research interests include American Literature, technology, the American novel, printing, race and gender and digital media and learning. Click here to view a full list of her published works.

Panel description: What do sports, Iranian election protests, Black popular culture, world soccer championships, global executive education and a Twitter film festival have in common? All are ways that innovative faculty are transforming education now, rethinking the basic configurations of higher education. What does a classroom look like when students can be in many cities at once? What does a teacher look like when participation and contribution happen from anywhere in the globe? What does learning look like when it is participatory? And what are the downsides? What does “open” mean when the majority of scholarly resources are locked in journals, in private archives, beyond the reach of many? And what does higher education have to contribute to the future of the Web? On many levels, the future of learning is the future of the Web. The panel will aim to specifically isolate the key challenges and opportunities in the looming future for learning and the Web and it will work to identify some specific action steps that can be taken today to work for a better tomorrow.

Panelists:

  • Laurent Dubois

    Laurent Dubois, a historian of French colonialism and the Caribbean who also writes on the global politics of football. His discussion forum about the power of global soccer is http://blogs-dev.oit.duke.edu/wcwp/. His current research focuses on his book on the history of the banjo, under contract with Harvard University Press, for which he received a National Humanities Center Fellowship and a Guggenhiem Fellowship this year.

  • Mark Anthony Neal

    Mark Anthony Neal, accomplished author of four books and one of the foremost scholars of Black popular culture in America. He is a professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. A frequent commentator for National Public Radio, Neal contributes to several on-line media outlets, including SeeingBlack.com, The Root.com and theGrio.com. He also writes the New Black Man website and is a national commentator on all forms of media.

  • Negar Mottahedeh

    Negar Mottahedeh, highly respected academic author. She received national notice for staging the first-ever Twitter Film Festival as well as for serving as a communications node in the Iranian election protests. She is an associate professor of literature at Duke University. Her blog is the Negarponti Files, and you can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/negaratduke.

  • Tony O'Driscoll

    Tony O’Driscoll, author of “Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration,” with Karl M. Kapp. He also also written articles in leading journals. O’Driscoll is a Professor of the Practice at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he teaches, researches and consults in the areas of strategy, innovation and technology management. He has previously held leadership positions at IBM and Nortel Networks.

For more information about FutureWeb 2010 panel discussions, featured panelists and more, click here to navigate to the FutureWeb site. To register for the conference, visit the FutureWeb registration page.





FutureWeb speaker Cathy Davidson strives for enhanced learning through technology

18 03 2010

Image courtesy of Duke UniversityThe future of the Web is the promise for the future of learning and education according to Cathy Davidson, FutureWeb panel leader.

Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University, will lead the panel on the Future of Learning and the Web at FutureWeb2010.

Panelists will include Laurent Dubois, historian of French colonialism and the Caribbean,  Mark Anthony Neal,  author and  scholar of Black popular culture in America, Negar Mottahedeh, academic author and Tony O’Driscoll, author of Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.”

“All the panelists on my panel are public intellectuals who make the fullest use of the Internet and mobile technologies for the work they do out in the public,” Davidson said. “They are very public and political intellectuals who reach different audiences beyond the classroom or the academy. They’re new style educators.”

During the panel session, Davidson is hoping questions will be asked regarding where learning would be without the Internet and where it can go because of it.

“I think the main thing will be asking questions about…how would the world be different, how would learning be different if the Web didn’t exist and how will learning be different because of the web,” she said. “But even more than that, how do the future of the Web and the future of learning go together?”

Learning and technology

Davidson is the co-founder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), a network of individuals and institutions that examine how new technology can aid in education, organization and communication.

HASTAC recently joined the White House on the Educate to Innovate campaign, a movement by President Obama to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

According to Davidson, education and technology can work hand in hand to modernize the way students learn.

“I think there’s some disappointment that learning institutions, formal institutions of education, have not really comprehended the new learning styles used today,” she said. “As individuals, we have done a much better job of accommodating to all the changes in the world than our institutions have. Our institutions are much slower to change than individuals and I think education is often the slowest at changing and the last at change.”

Davidson said she believes education needs to become more collaborative among students.

“Learning has to be much more student driven,” she said. “It has to focus more on collaboration rather than single individual achievement. One thing that HASTAC has pushed very hard since 2002 when we started is something called collaboration by difference….We try to come up with situations where people who are almost opposite in their skill sets or the ways they learn or their interests come together to focus on a problem and to solve that problem together.”

Davidson is a big proponent of using laptops in the classroom and said it is a regular occurrence for her to tell students to get on the Internet in class.

“I say not only should they be sitting there with their laptops, put them to work,” she said. “I try to conduct my class almost like a hypertext with the students participating, linking what’s happening in the classroom to Google searches and flows of information that come back into the classroom from their searches.”

Digital Media Learning Competition

One of HASTAC’s current projects is the 2010 Digital Media Learning Competition in conjunction with the MacArthur Foundation’s $50 million DML Initiative which allows individuals to explore how digital technology is changing learning and everyday life. Winners will be announced the first week of May.

To Davidson, the competition entails collaboration between individuals who can create technology with those who can think critically about it.

“For students it  means two things,” she said. “One is that informal learning is happening in all kinds of ways outside the school systems… We’re all learning how to collaborate, we’re learning how to customize…we’re learning how to participate in new ways. All those constitute new ways of social, civic and cognitive forms of learning.”

Where learning is headed

“The future of learning needs to see more and more of a return to learning by doing, learning by experiment, learning by creative engagement,” Davidson said. “(It needs to be) much more hands-on kinds of learning and I think that’s true in all fields whether we’re talking about the humanities or computer science.”

Davidson said she sees technology aiding in capabilities such as distance learning, teaching via gaming platforms or virtual environments and communication between teachers and students in different parts of the world.

“Digital technologies are a big factor in facilitating collaboration, not just as tools but in the deep structure the thinking,” Davidson said. “Learning is going to be done by communities that are not necessarily communities of people in the same place but distributed communities working together for specific goals.”

Upcoming projects

In addition to her work with the Digital Media Initiative and contribution to the FutureWeb conference, Davidson will soon make history with her book, Now You See it:  The Science of Attention in the Classroom, at Work, and Everywhere Else.

“It is about our ability to see new options when we have the right tools and the right partners,” she said.

Last week, Viking Press Publishers announced its partnership with iPad and the book will be one of the first to be available on the digital tablet.

“My book is going to be among the first generation of books that Viking Press publishes in its partnership with the iPad and that will be designed in multimedia formats, hypertext links, and interactive features and applications that push the boundaries of what a “book” is,” she said. “I’m thrilled.”

Davidson will lead the panel on the Future of Learning and the Web on Friday, April 30.

“I think FutureWeb is going to be as exciting as the WWW Conference,” she said. “Janna Anderson and Paul Jones and others have done an incredible job putting together FutureWeb.”

-By Laura Smith, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org