Collaborative Communities and emergent learning

Social networking, cooperation and collaboration within communities and amongst schools, and application of technology has become pillars of success in online education and learning.  Dean Groom elaborated on the use, benefits here with from content cult to a collaborative communities and Technology in Higher Education Classroom

Here are some of my take-away and reflection:

- Collaborative learning is harnessed by technology and social networking.

- People need to work hard to achieve their dreams and goals.  However, technology could be leveraged to assist us in improving our learning and connecting us with others both locally and globally.

- We need to provide a learning environment and space where students could enjoy learning, with things that they can do, not what they can’t do.

- Challenging ourselves to learn in a complex space and ecology would help in role-modelling to our teachers, colleagues, peers and students that they are not alone in their learning journeys, so we could feel what they feel, and learn what they learn, together without the tyranny and boundaries of authorities, power, age, race,  space, and time over us.

- Swapping and sharing learning all around the world is not only a vision of learning for the future, it is a vision of building a sustainable learning environment within a global ecology.  It is the building of social capital, that would benefit us and our next generation.

There are however, both opportunities and challenges that I envisage that we will be facing, especially in an online or immersive learning environment.

Let me share this story.

When I drove with my car this morning, I was suddenly aware of a serious problem – the glare.  There was a glare on the front window pane of my car, due to the morning sun shining over the window.  I couldn’t see what was in front, and so I was totally shocked.  I drove very slowly and carefully and reminded myself that safety comes first.   When I was about to reach M5 (a highway with a tunnel here in Sydney), I realised that my vision of what was in front of me when driving was totally limited, to about 5 metres, due to the strong glare on the front window of my car. My intuition was: this could be dangerous to drive on the road!  Then what I have conceived actually happened – an accident.  The car in front of mine smashed the other car, and both cars were seriously damaged.  I was safe and I changed lane to continue my journey.

Photo credit: Flickr

What was the problem?

Strong glare on window pane that caused the limited vision.

The car in front of mine probably drove too close to the one in front of it and when there was a “stop” (due to the traffic light which controlled the cars traffic flow) the driver didn’t brake in time and caused the smash.

How could this be prevented?

If the driver has driven more slowly and safely, then he could have stopped in time, and this would have prevented the smash from happening.  But this is an assumption that I have made, in that the glare has caused the problem, and the driver wasn’t driving cautiously enough.

What might be the long term solutions?

1. Improve the design of the road, by posting variable speed limit and warning signs (though hardly visible if there are glares), when such glares are likely to occur at the morning time.  Alternatively, cover the part of the road with a cover (tunnel) to ensure sunshine will not be a problem in driving.  Re-orient the direction of the drive to ensure vehicles wouldn’t be exposed to such problems

2. Educate the drivers (and the public) on the importance of safety when driving with glares shown up on window panes during certain times (morning and late afternoon) etc.

3. Improve the design of car windows, for instance with anti-glare panes, or adequate tinting.  Research into ways to eliminate glare on window panes.

4. Conduct research on accidents due to glare on window panes of cars, and investigate how and why such accidents occurred, and ways to reduce and eliminate such problems.

5. Not driving along the particular route, which would reduce the chance of glares,  at that particular time slot, if ever possible.

The above options also have many implications.

1. Cost

(a) Improving the design of the road could cost a lot, and unless this problem of glare has been identified as the main cause of the problem, and that the cost is justified, then it is unlikely there will be any change in the design of the road.

(b) Educating drivers and public on the importance of safety when driving with glare won’t be costing that much, as this could be included in a safe driving campaign.

(c) Improving the design of car windows would cost a lot for the car designer and manufacturer.  However, this could ensure safety when driving with glares, and so the value and benefits of redesign might far outweigh the cost.  This may involve a total redesign of car windows though, which may involve a huge cost to the car designer.

(d) Conducting research to study the cause and effect of glares on traffic accidents may be costly, though it could lead to improved safety.

(e) The cost of alternative routes would depend on the situation, and so it’s difficult to evaluate such driving option.

2. Safety in driving

The most important aspect of driving on the road is safety.  Speed and convenience are important for drivers, but safety is critical for drivers and the general public.  So, driving safely reduces accidents,  saves lives, and property.

Here is a video about what happened when a driver suddenly stopped on the road.  The one who drove too close to that car ahead caused the problem.  Though this was caused by “careless driving” and different from the “glare” problem, we could learn something similar in both cases.  Safe driving is the key.

What are the learning that I could derive from the above and apply them in social networking and online education and learning?

I have referred learning online similar to virtual driving here in embracing technology in higher education.  Learning with safety in mind is important.

There are significant barriers and risks involved in social networking and learning online, where as a learner, I need to be aware of and overcome, in order to have a successful, enjoyable learning experience and effective learning outcome.

Photo credit: from Michael Kirkham

1. Do I as a driver (learner) have the capacity in dealing with those situations (glares)?  These “glares” may take the forms of virus (Trojans), spammers, hackers, trolls, and sites with fake information or directions etc. Here is an example on the problem relating to virtual identity.

2. Do I as a driver (learner) know how, what, where, when, who and the why to connect to ensure safe learning?  How do I know that the information and direction contained in the artifact, post or site  is accurate and reliable? Do I know and apply the netiquette for connection and networking?

3. What are some of the strategies and tactics that I could employ when learning online (safe driving), in order to connect, communicate and collaborate with others, and to ensure my routes of driving (learning) are safe, effective and efficient?

Leahgrrl in her MOOC support inefficient learning and that’s the point highlights her feelings about MOOC, where overwhelming information and connections could be perplexing, though fascinating at times.

I have however got a different experience in that after a few MOOCs, what I reckon is important is a capacity to adapt to a changing learning and working environment, apply the sensemaking and wayfinding skills together with critical thinking and reflection on what I have learnt through life experiences,  (like a deep reflection and review the action on the above accidents) and sharing and conversation with others.

At the end, if I could create a learning environment together with others which allows me to think, reflect, learn, connect, collaborate and communicate with others, then I think such sharing and conversation could be one of the best pedagogical approach in online education and learning, in action.

I am still waiting for the emergent learning, which could result from further sharing and interaction with others….

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