An online Environmental Education collaboration between Finnish and Korean elementary school students revealed that students were more often interested in comments on their contributions, rather than providing feedback for their collaborators. This is a common phenomenon in social media: banal, self-centred and content-devoid postings that are meant to coerce engagement. For example, a posting of “boy, that’s thirty minutes I’ll never get back! LOL” is a thinly veiled plea to engage the poster.
Digital collaboration has a tendency of falling short of its promise, as was the case of the Finnish-Korean collaboration where “(e)nergy and resources were all used in creating one’s own products, which left neither time nor energy to comment on the work of others, although students loved reading comments on their work made by students from another country. It raises the need to emphasize commenting on other students’ postings as vigorous interaction” (Lee 250). Lee continues further, reflecting that the study “contrary to our expectations, found student activities more task-centered than interaction-centered” (Lee 254).
The problem with 21st Century Teaching and Learning is that it hasn’t been adequately codified. Paradoxically, the means for learning that it espouses impede the development of adequate pedagogies. Web 2.0 lacks the mechanisms for peer review and vetting of content because the potential 2+ billion contributors are de facto peers, whether they possess expert knowledge or not. “Despite the potential power of technology, it is generally not utilized effectively in teaching. A primary reason for this is that teachers do not know how technology can be employed in meaningful ways. While teachers have the necessary technical IT skills, pedagogic training is also needed” (Lee 253). This raises an essential, but often overlooked, confusion about 21st Century Teaching and Learning: to paraphrase Michael Fellows, it’s “not about (technology), in the same way that astronomy is not about telescopes” (Fellows 2). Though our students may be early adopters of digital technology, until sound pedagogies for digital collaboration are developed (Lee 254) the rules of social media engagement will prevail.
Lee, Okhwa, and Irja Leppisaari. “Modelling Digital Natives’ International Collaboration: Finnish-Korean Experiences of Environmental Education.” Educational Technology & Society 15.2 (2012): 244+. Academic OneFile. Web. 16 Jan. 2013.
Michael R. Fellows, “Compute Science in Elementary Schools.” (pp 143-163) In Fisher, Naomi, Harvey Keynes, and P Wagreich (eds.) Mathematicians and Education Reform, 1989-1990. Providence, R.I: American Mathematical Society, 1991. Web. Retrieved from http://larc.unt.edu/ian/research/cseducation/fellows1991.pdf
© K.C. Hoffman and learnersinadangeroustime.wordpress.com, 2013.