Sharing in the Knowing

None of us know everything; each of us know something; and we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skill (Levy, 1996 as cited by Jenkins, 2006)

connectivism

Objective: On February 16, AM posted a comment that really caught my attention in the Digital Gogies forum. In a discussion about cybergogy, AM shared a quote by Peter Levy, a cybertheorist who stated, “none of us know everything; each of us know something; and we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skills”(as cited by Jenkins, 2006).

Cybergogy, coined by PhD scholar Minjuan Wang, refers to “activities in any course with adult learners using instructional technologies on and off line” (Monroe & Malone, 1999, p. 1). As G indicated, it is specific to online instruction, and about engaging learners by involving them behaviorally, emotionally and intellectually.

Central to this “gogy” is the concept that strategies used in traditional classroom settings may not be the same as in a virtual setting (Clarey, 2010). AM’s response furthered our discussion on my posting of some of the common challenges with cybergogy identified by Monroe and Malone, especially “control of knowledge acquisition and transfer of learning” (1999, p. 1). To further deeper this idea of pooled resources and shared learning, the forum also explored the idea of peeragogy, also referred to as paragogy. This “gogy” is “a theory of peer-to-peer learning and teaching that addresses the challenge of peers producing a useful and supportive context for self-directed learning” (EdTechReview, 2013, p.1).

Reflective: My immediate reaction to this quote was that it so clearly speaks the truth about knowledge acquisition and the learning journey that we all are a part of every day of our lives. Levy’s words are certainly logical and meaningful to me. Yet, I also realize that this new culture of learning and way of creating of new knowledge is not necessarily a central belief among educators or within educational systems for adult learners today. Nor was this idea of completely informal and self-directed shared learning one I fully accepted when I first read about it.

Regardless of the type of learning environment, I personally believe that, without a doubt, we can all learn from each other. I also uphold that when we share and pool our resources and skills, we can learn so much more! What I ponder is if any group of individuals can all teach each other and master formal program information without the educator’s guidance or expertise?

plugged in

As new ways of learning and sense-making continue to be created and used by adult learners, we are now seeing self-directed learners teaching each other and building new knowledge and ways of knowing without an educator. As I further considered this quote, it made me step back and re-examine my role as an educator in today’s world. What is my role now and what will my future role be? While I don’t know what that answer might be, I see that we are on the cusp of a major paradigm shift in how we teach, share information, and work with adult learners. Perhaps the role of educator will transform into being that of a course designer for self-directed learning consortiums, or as a consultants that peer learners engage with when they self-identify the need to discuss ideas with a subject matter expert? How do I really feel about students teaching students in the pure sense of peeragogy, and is there a role for an educator to play in such new ways of knowing and learning? Cybergogy and peeragogy are certainly interesting cultures of learning that I am grappling with. I absolutely value them, but wonder about their role in the formal sense of post-secondary education.

Interpretive: Jenkins, in “Collective Intelligence and Convergence Culture” highlights the media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence (Jenkins, 2006). He highlights this cultural shift of consumers becoming “participants” who are encouraged to seek new information and make connections. It is important to recognize that educational institutions have been built around the concept of serving as the distributor of knowledge and skills. They uphold research and evidence-based practice and learning. Educational institutions charge student registration fees in exchange for the exchange of (hopefully) new learning about students. Yet, this new way of learning could potentially be free, and not based on research. Hence, a true dichotomy is emerging. Do we see ourselves solely as the keepers of information that dole out this valuable resource to students, our paying consumers?

Learners today are actually participating in non-traditional knowledge cultures completely external to any formal education setting. As media technology has advanced, many new opportunities have arisen to propel this style of collective learning and knowledge sharing throughout cultures, countries, and across the globe. Jenkins points out that “ many schools remain openly hostile to these kinds of experiences, and continuing to promote autonomous problem solvers and self-contained learners” (Jenkins, 1996, p. 2).

Yet, there are emerging leaders among us who are changing the way we think about formalized education. One example is Dr. George Siemens whose theory of connectivism also strongly upholds the concept that each of us, as learners are contributing to a growing shared knowledge through social connections (Siemens, 2010). Connectivism is a learning theory for the digital age that helps us to understand both our passion for being connected, but most importantly how technology has transformed our way of knowing and learning. After reading his theory and listening to a number of UTube video lectures, I absolutely understand that learning and knowledge acquisition is no longer seen as solely an individual, internal process. With the use of new tools such as Facebook, Twitter, online learning platforms, blogs, open source resources, and more, knowledge is no longer acquired in a linear fashion. I propose that the theory of constructivism is transforming through the introduction of many new technologies into a hybrid-shared experience that I would term “multi-constructivism”. Levy’s quote rings very true in the digital world. Information is being shared, added to, and improved upon with every social exchange. In this way, we are sharing resources, expanding our knowledge and collectively creating new knowledge, concepts, and ideas.

Decisional: This philosophical discussion of this quote by Levy (1996, as cited in Jenkins, 2006) has been helpful to me in more thoroughly understanding and becoming comfortable with the concepts of peeragogy, cybergogy, and connectivism. Together, I believe each offer us all exciting new ways of understanding how we learn, and importantly offer us truly shared social learning experiences that are serving to collectively expand our knowledge.

How can I apply these ideas to my current role as an educator in a formalized educational program for dental hygienists? I plan to incorporate blogging in any future courses with student learners. I also plan to encourage our graduating class of students to form social learning forums to both support each other and expand their way of knowing and sense-making. I feel this will be especially important and supportive in their first year of practice. I also plan to write an article in the BCDHA newsletter on this topic to encourage fellow dental hygienists to form peeragogy-type virtual learning clubs on areas of practice that are important to them. Finally, I am keen to have a conversation with my fellow colleagues and explore new ways of building upon current practices to engage students in a more virtual way.

In closing, I feel that Levy’s words are true and meaningful in any learning environment. Hence, for any courses that I am involved in, I will continue to encourage and support collaborative-shared learning within a respectful and safe learning environment in which students see themselves and I as partners in contributing to everyone’s collective knowledge (Barkley, 2010).

References

Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Clarey, J. (2010, April 9). A learning paradigm shift: Cybergogy. Retrieved from: http://janetclarey.com/2010/04/09/a-learning-paradigm-shift-cybergogy/

EdTechReview. (2013, April 6) What is peeragogy? Retrieved from:http://edtechreview.in/dictionary/261-what-is-peeragogy

Jenkins, Henry. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, pp. 2-4, 17-18, 258-260. Retrieved fromhttp://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-1/jenkins-on-collective-intelligence-and-convergence-culture

Monroe, D, Malone, V.M. (1999). Cybergogy teaching: The implications for work with adult learners. Retrieved from:http://tcc.kcc.hawaii.edu/previous/TCC%201999/papers/monroe.html

Siemens, G. (2010, June 15). Connectivism: Socializing open learning. Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqL_lsogeNU

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