Discussions in FE about Flipped learning and Directed Study have abounded and the desirability of doing it. However, the discussion is driven by an assumption that the Cognitive domain will be slept off and tackled on-line, reducing the whole thing to an ‘efficiency’ argument, (which has value but is not the whole story at all and not what is central to the quality of teaching). What teachers need to think about is what pedagogical advantage is there in doing this and rather than describe what student will do, get into the far more important discussion about how they will do it an why init will improve the learner and learning experience.
In my view, the great value of learning outside the classroom away from the teacher is having students learn collaboratively; the process of asking all to contribute to a central understanding that is available for review, consideration, and reaction, that in the process enriches what is learnt.
Crowdsourcing is a gathering of people made possible on a massive scale, where distance and place is no object where there is Web connection, where the value of what is achieved is greatly enhanced by the number of people (the crowd) who choose to participate. The greater the crowd size, the greater the chances of interesting. profound, unexpected yet positive things happening.
Collaborative learning is a description of the movement of learning away from a class based, teacher-led approach to learning. It is replaced by learning where students are more dependent on each other for their learning. It is part of a blended approach that combines with teacher-led learning but is not Distance learning. One of the great things of crowdsourcing is that someone, somewhere will have expert knowledge from first-hand experience and, as a rule, that information would not normally be available. We have historically relied on formal routes to knowledge, through books and lectures from recognised experts but hearing or seeing from someone ‘who is there’. or ‘took part in it’ or has ‘current knowledge’ deepens the quality of learning. Better still to hear from two or more independent sources to provide a range of views or opinions or ideas…….
The value of crowdsourcing is to end up with great ideas being shared based on, rather than only abstracting facts or knowledge.
We need to encourage student to work this way for three reasons:
Wikipedia is an example of the value of sharing what we know, as well as reminding us of the need to test all that we receive (see Doubted Learning below)
There are five ways to contribute to the ideas of others:
Collaboration asks students to react and respond to what others share with them. There are five ways we should encourage students to respond, that improves the quality of what is shared for the good of all in the class.
Student should never respond with a personal attack on the Author and attempt to simply discredit an argument or attempt it through discrediting the author. Anyone who does this has lost a friend and de facto lost the argument. Collaborative is not an easy skill. It requires a group to build trust that takes time and goodwill.
Collaboration outside of education
In Europe the Eurovision Song Contest is followed around the world by 200 million people this last May. It has an application for interaction, twitter feeds, and a FaceBook page. These interactions turn the whole event into a giant crowdsourcing activity around a choice of preferred music but is as much about different cultural, ethnic and National identities that are shared through comments and observations. Good crowdsourcing can lead those that take part in them to see more of what the crowd has in common rather than what separates as well as giving new insight and contexts on what is encountered and we might be learning to celebrate the differences more as we increase our exposure to new ideas as we see ourselves more in a global perspective rather than a country or two or village one. This may be the real value of interacting on-line.
How crowdsourcing is developing
Interestingly, companies are finding ways to make the ideas an energies of people meeting together on-line for mutual benefit. Rather than have crowdsourcing around an idea or interest, the 'crowd' is fragmenting into groups that want a particular thing from the crowd.
Buying and selling is an obvious example (look at www.etsy.com for example). House sharing or holiday swaps is another. Booking at taxi can move from a local town transaction to a global booking facility (see http://www.infotaxi.org/taxi_service_c.php )
Trip Adviser ( http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk and other Review sites http://www.restaurant.com for example have huge influence because we place value in others who have tried out the exact experience we are after. Notice here how important it is to apply the 'validity' rules here and we will be visiting this idea later. We don't know if an employee might be inflating the service or a disgruntled customer unfairly criticising the place.
One of the best crowdsourcing sites is Twitter ( www.twitter.com ) in terms of the sheer opens and organs nature of it. We will be using Twitter in the background to this MOOC, as much to explore its value as to use it as a commentary on what we are doing.
If you want to get an idea of the reach and consider the power of Twitter for crowd sourcing conversations go to http://twittercounter.com/pages/100 to explore who are the most followed Twitter users on the Planet.
The collaborative student will need to: