Britt Watwood and his colleagues in the Center for Teaching Excellence at Virginia Commonwealth University have been on an intense learning journey recently to explore how Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, etc. can transform learning in higher education. This morning I heard from one of Britt's "partners in crime," Bud Deihl, who saw my recent post on Jott and thought he'd try it out himself. According to Bud, he is now a "man on fire," seriously questioning why he needs an LMS:
Today is the first time in many years of using, administering, and teaching in a Blackboard environment that I seriously ask myself: why use Blackboard? This is not an indictment against Blackboard or any other learning management system (LMS), but a revelation about the availability and capabilities of existing and emerging technologies that can at least enhance the LMS experience and make a serious attempt to meet learners in their own learning and communication spaces.
What Bud discovered was that with Jott, he could use his cell phone to send email messages to himself, his colleagues or his students, as well as use his account to post to his blog. This led him to a number of questions about how blogs, wikis, RSS, screencasts, etc. could be integrated to create a classroom learning environment, as well as to a potential learning scenario using Jott with his blog and RSS:
- The instructor walks out of class and is contemplating the previous hour, questions which did not get answered, awareness of ideas which some students did not understand or simply has a few related ideas to share before the next class.
- The instructor calls Jott via their cell phone
- Dictates the content
- Having set up Jott correctly before class, the content is fed to a blog which has been created for the class
Blackboard (or other LMS) class has an embedded RSS feed from the blog
to the announcements page or other location in the class (there may be
some technical / coding issues to be ironed out)
- I’m wondering if there might be opportunities for students to use Jott to feed information into the class as well.
Bud's post intrigues me on a few levels. On the content level, I'm loving that he's seeing how all of these tools might better support his instructional goals in his classes and I'm really blown away by his ideas for how Jott might be able to support that. But what I also find interesting is how Bud's post so beautifully illustrates the power of using blogs and Web 2.0 tools for personal learning and professional development.
Bud is clearly reading other blogs and finding new resources. He's then experimenting with those resources (in this case Jott) and looking at the results and implications of his experiments. Then he's writing about them on his blog, exploring the possibilities, asking questions and putting his thoughts in the public space for additional comment and consideration.
I'm also intrigued by the fact that Bud is doing his explorations in conjunction with two other colleagues, and how this exploration is further feeding his desire to learn and his engagement with his co-workers. As he writes in another post:
I believe the more engaged my colleagues and I become in reading blogs, creating our own posts, and jointly learning in and about the w20 environment, the more we tend to gather around the coffee pot or drop into each other’s offices for a quick chat (or maybe not so quick). We are becoming more excited about discussing what we read and the ideas which these readings inspire.
Oh, if ALL professional development efforts could cause this reaction!
The learning that Bud, Britt and Jeff Nugent are modeling exactly illustrates the point that Bud is making--that these tools provide a powerful means for meeting learners in their own space and engaging them in the learning process. Even more to the point, Bud's demonstrating how exciting it can be to learn in these ways and how incredibly motivating and rewarding it can be to develop new skills in this kind of environment. Totally cool stuff. I want to bottle it and take it to every workplace in the world.