Monday, June 20, 2011

It's All Social

I had a few free minutes the other day and started to go through my Google Reader account. It has been a couple of weeks since I devoted a few hours to leaf through the various feeds I follow. There were a few articles that caught grabbed my attention. The reason these articles resonated so was because I am collaborating with a group of dedicated educators to construct a framework for a professional learning plan.

The plan is rooted in a simple belief that learning is a social process. Learning is enhanced when in the presence of others. This is especially true today with the ease in which ideas and resources are exchanged. The ability to network and build rich learning communities has situated learning as a social process. Accessible and diverse social media platforms allow for important interactions to occur and to build global connections.

Take for example an article that appeared in The Guardian. Iceland is crowdsourcing a new constitution. Capitalizing on the fact that two-thirds of the Icelandic population has a Facebook account, citizens can comment or join discussion groups about proposed clauses. In similar fashion, Twitter is being used to help spread a message or join people behind a common ideal. Saudi women are pushing to drive their own cars in an effort to overturn a ban on female drivers in their country. Using the hashtag, #Women2Drive information about the initiative is being disseminated and support for the cause is taking on a global voice. In both cases, an end goal is being reached through social vehicles.

Schools have to function in a similar manner and foster important social connections. As mentioned before, I am working with fellow educators to develop a professional learning plan. The plan relies on holding Unconferences and building cross-disciplinary cohorts where educators can receive warm and cool feedback from peers. Additionally, curricular and instructional documents are constructed in a public format. Using Google Docs, collaborators are invited in to build a resource that is relevant and enduring. The paradigm of a teacher working in isolation no longer applies and instead, the exact opposite must transpire. Transparency and collaboration should be privileged in our schools.

In an attempt to promote important social interactions, I created a page on this blog where current projects are posted (Crowdsourcing Education). Initiatives I am involved in have been made public and are open for commentary. Feel free to access any of the links and if inspired, leave a comment.