As our course coordinator acknowledged, there is a LOT of reading for this module, which will require me to come back to reread and reflect. I have already started some of the readings, but as I mentioned elsewhere, reading online is a lot different for me than the paper and highlighter tools (however, it is saving trees!).
The first reading is The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age by Davidson and Goldberg (2009). The takeaway for me of this article (that I still feel is very relevant 7 years later) is how focus on learning, the exchange of ideas, and the building of community (with technology and the internet as tools) should be the drivers for change.
Sadly, today the scenario has not changed…while modes of learning, including collaborative and participatory learning, have changed dramatically, schools “have changed mostly only around the edges” (p. 9). Traditional learning institutions continue to privilege individualized performance in assessments and reward structures (p. 24).
The authors define participatory learning to include “the many ways that learners (of any age) use new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and plan, design, implement, advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals and ideas together” (p.12). Outcomes are customizable by the participants and is about a process, not always a final product (p.15). It is about co-creation with myriad people (who can remain anonymous) (p.16). This can change the concept of authorship (p.18). Networking is another curcial component (p.18).
Yet often, the driver still within schools and higher institutions is “IT” (Instructional Technology). As the authors state, IT tends to be top-down, designer determined, administratively driven, commercially fashioned (p. 13). Student voice is often not part of the conversation, and consideration has not been taken to rethink modes of organisation, structures of knowledge and relationships.
The authors suggest ten foundational principles to rethink future of learning institutions (pp. 26-35):
- self learning
- horizontal structures
- from presumed authority to collective credibility
- a de-centred pedagogy
- networked learning
- open source education
- learning as connectivity and interactivity
- lifelong learning
- learning institutions as mobilizing networks
- flexible scalability and simulation
‘Where we get our information and what sources we trust will have a profound impact on our future identities” (coursenotes).
Communities of Practice is not a new concept for me, indeed, it has been a focus of my professional development and practice. I remember reading Wenger (2011) and making immediate connection with the major threshold concepts of Communities of Practice. Throughout my teaching career, this community of practice has extended from local and regional teacher librarian meetings (both informal and formal), TeachMeets, conferences and extending outward to embrace social media such as Twitter and Facebook to keep and extend those connections – not only with my fellow teacher librarians around the globe but also educators and thought leaders from whom I have been able to learn. Some of my strongest connections have been with colleagues with whom I have forged a personal connection. These connections have meant that time and distance have been transcended. We pick up where we last left off, as the saying goes.
- Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
There are 3 essential elements:
- The domain: a shared domain of interest. Membership implies a commitment and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people.
- The community: Members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships to learn from each other; they care about their standing with each other. …But members of a community of practice do not necessarily work together on a daily basis.
- The practice: Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction.
We share Communities of Practice, as part of the learning community of Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) and the specific sub-subjects/coursework. I mentioned above, the forging of personal connections, and this is definitely a core benefit of being part of this collaborative and participatory group of educators.
It is interesting that Communities of Practice continues to extend its boundaries.
See video by Etienne and Bev Wenger to explain.
Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/future-learning-institutions-digital-age
Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved fromhttps://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/11736