Last year I had a few embarrassing moments where I was accessing the latest contemporary eLearning publications and sharing these with colleagues well before Head Office was informed by conventional routes. Fortunately our structure is relatively flat and very collaborative, particularly amongst the eLearning Team. The Head of eLearning asked me how did I get all of this information somewhat instantaneously, did I have the best RSS feeds around? My one word answer was Twitter (twitter.com/simoncrook).
By ‘following’ some key people I have found myself informed of the latest publications, resources and thinking around eLearning. Thanks to Education.au (@educationau) I found the SICTAS ‘Annual Report on Emerging Technologies’ immediately. Thanks to Allison Miller (@theother66) I came across ‘2010 Horizon Report Preview’ in 2009! Only the other day Andrew Churches (@achurches) informed his network of the Becta report ‘The impact of digital technology’. All of these publications are extremely useful, particularly when happened upon almost immediately. By following Tom Barrett (@tombarrett) I am privy to his excellent, collaborative, online presentations in Google Docs on various eLearning applications e.g. ‘Twenty-Nine Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom’. All of these resources empower me in my job as eLearning Adviser and as a lifelong learner. I can subsequently inform my network of teachers, schools and advisers of such information, thus empowering them.
As Matt Wells (@mbw_61) informed me, a student can now download the whole of Wikipedia onto an iPhone. This means students can have immediate access to far more information than any teacher holds in their head. Accordingly, the balance of power in the classroom has changed if it is only about knowledge and recall. (Fortunately we are evolving teaching practices to push higher order skills than ‘remembering’ such as ‘creating’ (see Blooms Digital Taxonomy)). Rather than being a vessel of knowledge, teachers (and students) can attain true power by collaborating with a wide variety of people. The easiest way to collaborate these days is through Web 2.0 applications and social media such as Twitter, Google Docs and Nings. Rather than simply ‘knowing’ their subject, a teacher can now find various ways of exploring it using contemporary media or keep themselves informed of the latest classroom activities or better still, share their work with the world.
People no longer have to wait for the traditional powerbrokers (teacher, employer etc.) to disseminate what limited information they discern as appropriate for the consumer. By collaborating with each other online, anyone can find out anything, anytime, anywhere.