When venturing out to world wide web, do we view the various landing points as tools or places?
Many people consider Google search as a tool, but Twitter as a place. The key difference being we typically associate places as locations of social interaction and contribution. We establish residency by leaving traces of our identity behind as we move point to point. The longer we stay, and the more we engage with others, the further we move away from the visitor role towards residency. A few months ago, I wrote about mapping Internet usage based on the research of White and Le Cornu. I found this mapping activity to be personally enlightening, and it also helped me have focused conversations about the places our learners are most likely to interact and share.
Dave White explains visitors and residents are not separate classifications but rest on a continuum to help explain how people use the web and where places of engagement are likely to occur. The Internet mapping exercise helps visualize our web-based activities and explain our digital identity. When we combine White and Le Cornu's research with Stephen Downes and George Siemens's theory of connectivism (socially networked learning), we assume increased engagement and more relevant learning occurring towards the resident end of the V/R continuum. According to White, neither end of the continuum is favored over the other. However, we're facing dramatic declines in student engagement in school; it makes sense to learn as much as we can about how (tools) students use the web, and more importantly, where (places) they are likely to engage with other learners.
V/R Axes Template
Next week, I am leading a workshop (SchoologyNEXT) investigating the premise that a learning management system (LMS) can also provide a personal learning environment (PLE). In other words, the LMS is thought of more readily by learners as a place than a tool. If this shift towards residency occurs can we expect increased student engagement? There's not much in the way of formal research in this area, but the relationship and impact seem plausible.
If students move towards residency, then increased interaction will elevate student engagement.
Full disclosure, I subscribe to the thinking popularized by Audrey Watters, Dean Shareski, Aaron Davis, and others who suggest that those who want to work and play transparently on the web should own a domain, a web-based residence. However, this leap to residential transparency is very dramatic for many teachers and students. The LMS, in our case, Schoology, provides easy entry, scaffolded practice, and a coherent center for web-based interaction. Can the LMS provide sanctuary for the digital nomad? Will this provide a stepping-stone towards personal residence?
How can we help learners move towards residency?
Stephen Downes says these are the key elements of a personal learning environment:
- A place for curated material
- A place for creating content
- A place for interaction
- A place for reflection
- A place for sharing
Whether it's a learning management system or some other digital age tool, guiding students in the creation of a personal learning environment will help them move towards the resident end of the V/R continuum. It is here where content creation and interaction foster engagement, and for many, deeper, more meaningful learning. I am interested in your thoughts about this thesis. Can student engagement be elevated by guiding them down a path of web residency?
Visitors and Residents - David White
Visitors and Residents; A New Typology for Online Engagement - First Monday
Personal Learning Environments; Focus on the Individual - Education Week, Katie Ash
Connectivism; A Learning Theory for the Digital Age - George Siemens
Connectivist Learning and the Personal Learning Environment - Stephen Downes
photo credit: The Writing Desk via photopin (license)