Posts Tagged ‘dialogue’

January 5

(First I’d like to situate this journal entry physically – I’m in Toronto now! We are here for 5 days (we were in N.B. for Christmas with my family) and went to the Ontario Science Center yesterday and met good friends last night and will do so again tonight. Toronto is great – so many things to do, such a rich and international culture! We leave on Saturday for Vancouver and Whistler (skiing) and 5 days later we’ll be in Tokyo for 5 days before heading home to Kitami. I anticipate having little to no Internet access in Tokyo (we stay at an old but lovely hotel) so I’m trying to do as much posting now as possible to make up for any gaps later on.)

In this first week of my new course, I’m amazed by the strengths that classmates are bringing to our online forum/community of practice. The level of tech ability, experience and the collaboration so far will surely make this one of the most rewarding classes I have taken at OISE. It will also revitalize my interest in using CMC in my own classes. The problem is that my classes are Spoken English classes, not written, so while I can use a blended format, there are limitations on what I can do.

This week’s readings bring up an article called Wikis as constructivist learning environments that my colleague Rick Lavin (a wiki guy) and I wrote in 2005. I do see the possibility of wikis being used in socially constructive ways, but I think that they are limited. Of the 6 requirements below for online socially constructed learning (from our article but not available at wikisalon anymore), I think that while wikis and forums both meet all of these to some extent, forums are much better for social negotiation. Multiple perspectives and collaboration opportunities also seem to be better represented by forums.

1. Multiple modes of representation

2. Collaboration opportunities

3. Experience with multiple perspectives

4. Learner centered

5. Learner relevant

6. Social negotiation

For me, after 8 online courses, I have to say that there is no way that I could have learned this much from my peers in an online class, and I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have learned like this in a wiki either. Wikis certainly are useful and have a place in education, but I see them as only one of many tools (e.g. blogs have great potential for transformation). But forums are discussions, discussions are dialogue, and dialogue is central to critical pedagogy, which is my great passion and also the focus of my dissertation. Here is a comment made about how Freire saw dialogue,

“Dialogue wasn’t just about deepening understanding – but was part of making a difference in the world. Dialogue in itself is a co-operative activity involving respect. The process is important and can be seen as enhancing community and building social capital and to leading us to act in ways that make for justice and human flourishing.”

Because dialogue is the central means of communication in online forums, I recognize its value for not only changing an individual’s ideas, but also its potential for changing the world.