Connectivism Conference Podcast
In case you are interested, the MP3 of my presentation at the Connectivism Online Conference today is online here. (Apologies for the chipmunk sections.) Let me know what you think!
Technorati Tags: connectivism, learning, education
Will, I posted this comment on the conference moodle but thought it might be of interest to your readers here as well.
First of all I’d like to thank you for your presentation. It resonated with me in a number of ways, but I’ll only discuss one of them here.
When you were discussing the power of connecting students and mentors you made reference to the Polar Science Project, http://www.polarscience.ca. I am the coordinator of that project, (part of the McMaster University Science Outreach project, YES I Can! Science). I thought it might be useful to share some of the lessons we have learned.
This is the second year we have run the project. We created an online collaborative environment with different types of communication tools where we connected:
* a research team from Colorado State University, working in Antarctica, studying the aerobic capacity of Weddell seals;
* a research team from York University, analyzing the tissue samples taken from the seals;
* hundreds of grade 3-12 students from around the world.
There’s no need to outline the benefits we saw in connecting students and scientists working in the field. They’re obvious. What surprised us was how quickly the lines became blurred between the mentor and mentee roles. Oh, there was so much to learn from all of our scientists and students guided them by the nature and sheer volume of their questions! But when the need arose, (naturally, and without a “teacher prompt”), the students themselves stepped into the mentor role.
Here are just a few examples:
* A grade 5 class became experts in HTML and guided other classes through the creation of class web pages on the Polar Science site.
* Students from a grade 8 class gave ongoing suggestions as to how to go about pulling out the important ideas from the scientists’ blog articles and then “re-mixing” them to share with the rest of the school community.
* Grade 8 students, who became interested in the “lab” part of the research, became experts in the techniques of muscle tissue sectioning and staining, (yes, I said grade 8 students!), They then acted as “translators” who explained to other classes the techniques the scientists were describing.
* Students from Edmonton connected with students from the southern United States to explain how in fact you can survive blizzard conditions with minus 40 degree temperatures.
We were all at different times mentors, mentees, teachers, and learners. And most of all we were engaged, with the shared experiences, ideas and with each other! Even though the project has ended for this field season, I can’t “turn off” the site because the participants won’t leave. I’m now playing the role of observer as I watch to see where the learners (scientists and students alike) are going to take this…
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