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Collaborative Learning Programs

CONSTRUCTIVIST LEARNING

Web 2.0 is now making collaborative everything more possible VS.: *flat* collaborative learning, production, and publishing, rather than Newtonian / top-down / hierarchical-style "collaborative". MIT Media Lab and other academics call the "constructivist" approach, AKA collaborative learning.

Web 2.0 Software tools for the classroom.

Niche social-networking software looks for expertise within a social group. each friend in a group installs the Illumio software on his/her computer. Then, when someone has a question about anything e.g., "Who knows John Smith?" or "Who know the lyrics to (a particular song)?" the software searches all the hard drives in the group with either MSN or Google desktop search technology, looking for the person who has the most references to that subject in email, documents, etc. Then it asks the person with the most info on the subject if it's ok to tell the group s/he knows the most. If the person says, yes, the questioner gets the results, if not, the software asks the next most knowledgeable person for permission, and so on down the line in what's called a "reverse auction systems," the Times reports.

TEACHERS CAN . . .

Help children develop the use of technology as a tool for learning and for use in all sorts of career related ways in the real world, by teaching "skills" with a learner-centered constructivist approach.
Skills are important, and you ARE helping your students develop them if you are providing learner-centered/constructivist events, and hands-on (experiential), facilitated discovery. Anyway you approach it, the learner almost always develops both a knowledge base of skills and/or concepts along with the ability to make critical and/or creative decisions about the uses of those skills/concepts when the learning is student-centered and constructivist based.
Teachers can facilitate learning environments and learning events that lead to the eventual use of higher order thinking and the very very important assimilation and ability to transfer those skills out of the initial learning environment, but knowledge must precede application which precedes all important higher level thinking skills.

Wikipedia

If you haven't heard of "NPA personality theory," well, you're not alone. The theory -- which argues that personality traits are coded into specific genes -- was developed by a doctor named Anthony Benis, and even Mr. Benis admits that scientists aren't sold on the idea. But for quite some time, Wikipedia had an astonishingly thorough article on the topic, complete with photographs, diagrams, and an unusually detailed list of reference sources. Why was Wikipedia so authoritative on such an obscure subject? Because Mr. Benis wrote the article on NPA theory himself. The article sat online for months, but Wikipedians recently decided to delete it -- ruling that Mr. Benis had violated a conflict-of-interest policy intended to keep the encyclopedia from becoming, in essence, a vanity press.
Before the essay got axed, though, it was strongly critiqued by Daveydweeb, a Wikipedia contributor who complained on his blog that the piece had actually been certified as one of Wikipedia's best articles, thanks to "an extremely effective campaign" simulating grass-roots support for the piece. Of course, nothing stays under the radar for long on the Web. Daveydweeb's blog post soon became the topic of a lengthy Slashdot discussion, in which defenders of Wikipedia clashed with pundits who took the NPA theory flap as the latest sign that the encyclopedia was not to be trusted. It wasn't exactly the John Seigenthaler incident, but Wikipedia still had a controversy on its hands. Unlike the Siegenthaler saga, though, this one is all smoke and no fire, says Nate Anderson at Ars Technica. Wikipedia's natural process of weeding out its dross might not have worked quickly, but it eventually did its job.
Mr. Benis -- who says he created the article only at the request of a Wikipedia user -- has now posted the piece on his own Web site. And Daveydweeb even apologized to the doctor, admitting that his attack on the NPA theory article was "sensationalist." According to Mr. Anderson, the incident is noteworthy only because it shows how quickly
Wikipedia's parochial debates can be blown out of proportion.
But the debate over the article should be of interest to academics because of the light it sheds on Wikipedia's conflict-of-interest policy. It is in virtually everyone's interest for the encyclopedia to keep people from expounding on their own scientific theories. But in fields that rely more eavily on interpretive prowess -- history, say, or film theory -- conflicts of interest aren't so black and white. Should art historians refrain from commenting on a painter's influences for fear that they're pushing their own biases? ~ Brock Reed

Wikipedians recently decided to delete it

Who are these wikipedians? They are know nothing - self appointed censors not subject experts. Slaves with too much power who won't permit external links to further expert information when the site contains advertising. How many sites in the world don't have advertising? But this is their low brow mentality. Wikipedian Censors Suck and they have ruined wikipedia. They will be replaced soon by another community built site that will have subject experts who are able to preside.

And when Wikipedians decide an article is inconsequential, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary, they're quick to confine it to the dustbin of digital history. But now a new Web site has emerged to salvage wayward Wikipedia articles from the wreckage. The Wikipedia Knowledge Dump is clearly the work of someone with too much time on his hands, but it's a surprisingly good read. Recent additions to the Knowledge Dump's wealth of useless knowledge include a list of fictional worms (ranging from the Worm of Sockburn, of 14th-century English legend, to Slimey, Oscar the Grouch's striped pet), a description of "bum darts" ("the objective of the game is to pinch the coin/cap with the buttocks and drop it into the cup"), and a definition of allodoxaphobia, "the fear of opinions."

COLLEGE SKILLS

 

WHY CAN'T COLLEGE GRADS WRITE?

1/2 of the seniors in the study stated that the number of courses they had taken that assigned 20 or more pages of writing was but five or fewer. The Chronicle found an even lower rate of 20-plus pages in its survey of education and business majors at institutions in the state of Texas (as reported here).
http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/the-trouble-with-writing/31800?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

undergraduates are "exposed to only a handful of writing-intensive courses--fewer than five out of the 40 or so courses needed for a degree, on average, for business majors, and fewer than eight for education majors."
The pattern has settled in, we should note, at the same time that "poor writing skills" have become one of the most frequent complaints employers make about recent graduates. A few years back, I sat down with two buddies in the cafeteria of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars just off Pennsylvania Ave and shared a table with Lee Hamilton, former congressman and director of the center. At the time, he might have been preoccupied with his work as vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, but the moment he asked me what I did and heard me answer "college English teacher," he blurted, with a rising Midwestern twang, "You wanna tell me why the young kids can't write any more."
The answer is simple, at least as far as the writing side of the college curriculum is concerned. When it comes to writing-heavy courses, students don't want to take them and teachers don't want to teach them. When it comes to writing assignments in non-writing-oriented courses, students don't like them to run too long and neither do teachers.
Writing is just too much work for both sides. For every upper-division class in the humanities, 25 pages of finished out-of-class writing is a proper minimum. But for most students, that sounds like a daunting total--and an unjust one. For teachers handling three or more classes with 25 or more students, grading all those pages conscientiously (which means giving substantive feedback) keeps them up all night three weeks every semester. For those lucky teachers on a 2-2 load with 25 students or less per course, they feel the publish-or-perish mandate and all those pages of student prose turn into a road block. They can't put on their annual report, "I graded 900 pages of undergraduate writing this semester." But they can declare, "I delivered four conference papers and published one article and two reviews."

As scary as the lack of writing experience, is the apparent lack of literature research skills. I had an entire class stare at me blankly yesterday when I suggested that it was possible to use the bibliography of one paper to find sources for deeper reading on a topic. They didn't seem to even recognize that following an idea to its source was desirable. This is disturbing.

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