Social Learning …

We have heard this before … that learning is a social activity. And, our experience right through school and experience bears this out. Ask any of my pals from college, and they would vouch that getting past those exams was a very social process! There is an interesting post i came across … Bridging the Gap between web 2.0 and higher education … quite interesting, because this is something i have been thinking about, and writing about. Something which, to my mind, brings out the basic relationship between two apparently independant worlds of KM and Training. And, coming from a training background, into Knowledge Management, i think this is an area which i think i am interested in a lot.

This post represents some rather interesting thoughts …

Firstly, this brings out the point, that unlike in a few e-learning implementations (few, not all …), learning is something which is controlled by the student (or their boss …), or, in other words, is more of a pull activity than a push from a centralized LMS.

Secondly, and this is where this is departing from the traditional e-learning (its already begun being used along with traditional … the timescales sure are changing, arent they!), is in the interactivity this model visualizes among students. Whether it be in terms of discovery of trainings that the user would be interested in, or whether it be interactions in terms of “collaborating to learn”, or whether it is in terms of generating content either as stand-alone content, or to supplement content generated by institutions.

In terms of discovery, i am looking at something like the facebook model … something i have written about … it could be as simple as finding out from fellow students what book to read for a particular topic, or, the courses which would be useful, because they have been taken by folks who are interested in something similar to what you are interested in, too. Basically, discovering trainings, courses, curricula, books, papers, and other resources based on what your network is doing, or simply based on search.

Collaboration to learn is essentially about sharing of thoughts, and ideas among students, and the teacher essentially transforming into a facilitator … something i have written about before … i have found, as a trainer, that students tend to learn far more from experimenting with each other than from the instructor. And this is something which ought to be part of our learning structures sooner rather than later.

Coming to the part of content … and this is where the interesting part of the convergence of web 2.0 and learning comes … Which is where i agree with something Michael Feldstein …

You may want the structure and motivation a course offers, which could come from a recognised institution, or could be a user generated ‘course’ that is taken just for fun and run by an enthusiast. The key point is this – most LMSs are based on a centralisation philosophy, and as soon as you disaggregate the technology, you also decentralise control.

Interesting observation … with the disaggregation of technology, e are looking at more and more content being created by learners themselves (now, this is nothing new … we used to get a lot of notes from seniors, apart from photocopying notes from classmates who were the most sincere, and with the smallest handwriting … the handwriting was a cost consideration), read blogs! And, this is where the structure of formal learning, and “discussional learning” could get merged going forward. They are already beginning to complement each other.

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