The main themes of the course are, not surprisingly: a) collaborative learning and b) online. For topic 1, most focus has been placed on the online part, albeit with some glimpses of that distant Eldorado of effective use of Problem-based [collaborative] learning in its different forms. This post is therefore divided into three sections, based on Scenario 1 and the course literature for topic 1: My personal explorations of the social wild web, Use of online resources for learning and research, and A first survey problem-based learning methods.
“Take only memories, leave only footprints”
An underlying assumption in Scenario 1 is that online learning should make use of the teacher’s and students’ comfortable habits in social media in their private life, to transfer their embracing of online private social life to online professional life (White).
This assumption is totally false for me. On the one hand, I have no doubts whatsoever sharing my professional life on the internet. On the other, my private life in social media is virtually non-existent. I have not posted anything on Facebook in many years, my Twitter activity is extremely restricted (following 5 accounts, having 4 followers and having made about 4 tweets in total), I am still classified as Newbie in the only discussion forum in which I post (rarely – 41 post since I began visiting it ten years ago), and I do not assign likes to blog posts or YouTube videos. This is a deliberate choice: I do want my private social life to be offline and I am absolutely content with being in the visitor mode in my private use of the internet. I do not want to brand myself using my private life social media, even though I am aware that the border between private and professional online life is rapidly dissolving.
The bottom line is that I do not want to be a settler in this uncharted territory. I definitely want to become an expert explorer of the technical geography and a knowledgeable anthropologist of the indigenous inhabitants in these areas, but I will never claim the social media land as mine.
Turning to Shaman Wikipedia – wise or vice?
The teacher-to-student quote “Do not use Wikipedia” is very often cited, also in last week’s course webinar. In my opinion, this is not only a dishonest statement but in fact an untruthful quotation. Dishonest since we as teachers and researchers are ourselves in fact using Wikipedia – the question is instead how we use it, and the quote should read “Do not cite Wikipedia“. But this is no different from e.g., Encyclopaedia Brittanica. We do discourage students from citing all encyclopaedias and urge them to go to the sources. This is actually the very same feedback we give when students are citing a research article summarising work originally presented in an earlier publication: if you can gain access to the original publication, it is that publication that you should study and cite. The same applies for Wikipedia: By all means, use Wikipedia for introductions and summaries, but use and attribute the original sources when writing your report.
The problem with Wikipedia is not that it would not be reliable (it has indeed been shown that it often is, e.g., Kräenbring et al. 2014), but that the information is
a) anonymous: it is not apparent who has provided the information (even if supporting citation links are given, the summary of them cannot be attributed to someone who could answer questions about the content our their own agenda for providing the information).
b) not static: it is not certain that the fact that you wanted support for is still there when your reader follows the link to Wikipedia, since someone may have changed the article.
To illustrate my case, I will make use of Wikipedia as the main resource for the rest of this post, but will identify academic references or underlying sources that I will later use for my further studies.
PBL, TBL, SBL, GBL… I do have a problem learning the difference between all these terms!
In the olden days, it used to be simple: The concept of Problem-based learning that should make us all rich (in knowledge) was the one that existed and broadly encompassed more or less every teaching paradigm where theory-driven schoolbook studies were replaced with (more or less) open-ended questions to which students should find their own solutions as well as methods of study and motivation. Enter confusion… in two different forms: how and what?
The how concerns that teachers became worried that students do not learn all relevant parts of the course when they are concentrating on in-depth learning in one narrow area, and that learners may feel abandoned when they should themselves decide and control everything in their learning. This lead to the what: new types of problem-oriented learning with more guidance or focused appeared: project-based learning, task-based learning, scenario-based learning, game-based learning, computer-supported collaborative learning… And to add to the mess, most of them have their own shiny acronym. Let us have a first glimpse of all the terms and try to tell them appart (survey partly based on Google searches and Wikipedia, partly on Savin-Baden, 2014). Buckle up, it is going to be a bumpy ride: See the next post (above).
- White, D: Visitors and residents http://youtu.be/sPOG3iThmRI
- Jona Kräenbring, Tika Monzon Penza, Joanna Gutmann, Susanne Muehlich, Oliver Zolk, Leszek Wojnowski, Renke Maas, Stefan Engelhardt, Antonio Sarikas (2014). Accuracy and Completeness of Drug Information in Wikipedia: A Comparison with Standard Textbooks of Pharmacology. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106930
- Savin-Baden, M., (2014) Problem-based learning: New constellations for the 21st Century. Journal of Excellence in College Teaching 25 (3/4) 197-219 Preprint Savin-Baden JECT (3)