Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Connecting in a Flat World
By Barbara Bray    April 3, 2007 -- 07:50 AM

Two issues I would like to explore:

  1. a desire for authentic learning opportunities
  2. creating learning experiences that are engaging and fun

How do you harness the power of like-minded individuals across long distances to reinforce online training, on-site coaching, learning with engagement, ongoing participation, and encourage them to continue coming back to their online community?

How do you phase in a community-building approach in online environments that may or may not supplement face-to-face workshops?

Some ideas to discuss here:

  • Identifying the audience that will populate the online communities.
  • Determining the community-engaging practices.
  • Developing a community-building guideline outlining the principles for a successful community.
  • Generating learning opportunities connecting individual learning outcomes with mentorship that extend across language and cultural barriers.
Rather than thinking about a “digital divide,” we can think about ways we can move towards “digital inclusion” -
More critical divide: the KNOWLEDGE divide
- even if you provide access to computers and the Internet, that is not sufficient to bridge the knowledge divide
- teacher ed should (and can) play a leadership role locally, nationally and globally in moving toward digital inclusion
- this is so important, because sometimes (perhaps often) teachers don’t feel empowered that they CAN make a difference

Since eCoach is an online community based in the U.S. most of our work is in English. I am curious to hear from others on strategies to engage participation with people of other languages and cultures. We have found that engaging teachers in the US is tough even without a language or cultural  barrier mainly because of lack of time and priorities. I welcome your thoughts about any of these ideas.

Categories: "Engagement" "Culture"

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By small Dennis Imoto      April 3, 2007 -- 12:12 PM
SUBJECT: Re: Connecting in a Flat World

Regarding the issue on recruiting and retention perhaps if there were a constantly renewed source of teachers then there would not be a problem with recruiting and there would be more options for retention. How would this look like?

I have been giving this some thought and what if as an option to the military, young people could serve their country by serving as teacher aides. I got this idea from hearing about how countries like Thailand have their youths become monks for a period of time. Some stay on and others go back to their regular lives. I also thought about how the Peace Corps was an option when military duty was mandatory in the USA. Well, what better way to help our children would be for our young adults to give back and invest in the future of our society by being mentors and coaches in learning? If they like it then they can continue their training and become full fledge teachers. They would also be more aware of the education process and more supportive if they knew what it takes to be a teacher.


Reply to Dennis Imoto

By small Fred Mindlin      April 3, 2007 -- 01:12 PM
Great idea, Dennis. What if there were a way for youth to earn college scholarships credits on top of a salary while working as aides in classrooms or mentors in community centers?

There is a Youth Corps

but it sounds like an elite program, a competition with only 40 winners. What I hear you saying and would also love to see is a real program for lots of folks.

It’s like the "pay off your loans by teaching in target schools" program that I used after getting my credential, but before college.

Reply to Fred Mindlin

By small Linda Ullah      April 28, 2007 -- 06:25 AM
As a member of several online educational communities, I like the idea of bringing them all together.  There is a lot of cross over in that many of us reading this blog belong to some common subsets of these professional online communities. 

I remember several years ago when I first discovered the wonderful people connections that the Internet fosteres,  discovering that I'm not the only person who thinks they way I do about education.  I was no longer what I consider to be an island of innovative thinking.  The Internet connected us in powerful ways!

This, however, brings up another thought, that has been part of what I've been trying to do with teachers and other educators for a long time now.  How do we change practice beyond the communities of those of us who have grown professionally because of our common online PD experiences, to those who feel so bogged down in their day-to-day teaching, that they don't feel they have to time to be part of an online professional community, or to those who are still fearful of using the technology, or those who are resistant to changing the way they do things?  Part of the answer is to create professional environments that require their participation (perhaps even with a "carrot" for their involvement), but I'd like to see this become so much a part of the culture of education that it is a "no-brainer" for educators to collaborate online daily to improve student learning outcomes throughout the world.

Linda Ullah

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