World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others: How to teach when learning is everywhere.

What I loved about reading the article, World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others was that I was anticipating every idea that Will Richardson was about to bring up. I am a strong believer in the “Collaboration Age” and agree that there is a wealth of knowledge floating around out there surely needs to be tapped into.

Our COETAIL cohort is a prime example of the strengths of learning and sharing with others over the internet. As a group we are spread around the world, and most of us will never get the opportunity to meet face to face. We are, however, all in our “cohort” together and will spend the next few months working together and sharing ideas.  In 3 short weeks I have already been enlightened by many of the comments and opinions I have read from those in this new community. I hope to be able to pull more and more on the resources here for my own classroom ideas.

The idea of working with others on different projects is not a new idea, but the ease at which it is now possible to link up with others around the world is amazing. It is of course second nature to many of our international students who were born into a world where they Skype with family abroad, post blog updates for their grandparents at home, and have their own email account from the earliest of ages. Asking today’s students to link up with other students around the world is now as simple as finding a time to meet with one of your colleague’s classes in the room next door.

Will Richardson does mention that “examples of this kind of schooling are hard to find so far, but they do exist.” This surprised me, until I went back to check on the date. March 2008. No wonder. As he predicted, this collaborative era is well and truly a part of many people’s teaching. As international school teachers, it is made even easier with the constant moving of teachers between schools. What a perfect way to find a link in another part of the world.

I did note though, that while Will Richardson did make some remarks regarding some of the challenges we are faced with when students use the many different forms of media available to them now, I would have expected a lot more about it. Yes there are the many, many documented safety issues to be concerned about. There is also that age old problem of copyright that is just going to get harder and harder to deal with. But there is also the issue of the students obtaining information that is utterly and entirely wrong. Wikipedia is often the example brought up for this argument. When anyone can change the information then how does the next reader know what is correct or completely made up. The same goes with students sharing information. If students are required to find facts then there are plenty of problems to be encountered when students are passing information back and forth between each other.

I do think, however, that as teachers are more adept with using all of these different forms of technology, when it becomes “second nature” to many of us, then the strengths of the “collaborative era” will be incredible.

1 comment for “World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others: How to teach when learning is everywhere.

  1. Avatar of Seth Blodgett
    March 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Michelle, thanks for your insightful post. Your comment about Wikipedia made me think. I just assigned a project for my students and they had to choose a modern revolution to compare to the American Revolution that we just finished studying. They are going to come up with a TV news program that will explain the revolution that they are studying. But for the first night, I asked them to read a quick explanation of their chosen revolution on Wikipedia. While I told them I expected their sources to be diverse, I like Wikipedia for a quick understanding of what happened. For these revolutions, there are so many authors that it would seem to me that most of the information would be fairly accurate since they are all checking out each other’s versions. But then what if all of them don’t know what they are talking about? Then I started thinking about more conventional sources of information like books. Do the publishers really go through all of the information and fact check it all or do they just want to sell it and make some money off that author’s book? Since the authors on Wikipedia aren’t making any money (or are they?), could their input be more authentic then someone who is trying to spice up the information and get better sales to improve the bottom line? It seems to me that we have been living in an information world controlled by publishers for a long time and the internet is a great way to free up that control. There are definitely sites that I steer my students away from like link to or link to, since it seems to me that about half or more of those answers come from people who have nothing better to do than to make things up and try to mess people up. I am amazed at how many of my students when they have a question will actually type in that question into Google which will direct them to one of those answer websites. I am trying to teach them how to do a better search, but it will take some time to break those habits for some of my kids. As for Wikipedia, I still feel its a good place to start for a popular topic but that one should be really careful about using it for more obscure topics. Thanks for sharing and making me think. link to

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