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Didactics World > Digital Pedagogy: Using Social Media to Support Gen Y Learning

Didactics World > Digital Pedagogy: Using Social Media to Support Gen Y Learning

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Published by Derek E. Baird
Article written by me for Didactics World, an education technology/social media publication based in the Middle East.
Article written by me for Didactics World, an education technology/social media publication based in the Middle East.

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Published by: Derek E. Baird on Jan 03, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Welcome to Didacticsworld.com -::- November 2007 - Feature
 May 2008
Digital Pedagogy: Using Social Media toSupport Gen Y Learning
Derek E. Baird, M.A.
As e-Learning designers, information architects, and educators, we need to be aware of the symbioticrelationship between technology, knowledge transfer, social interaction and learning.
The Social Life of Learning
“Perhaps our generation focused on information, but these kidsfocus on meaning -- how does information take on meaning?" -John Seeley BrownRecently I’ve been re-reading one of the seminal works onknowledge management and social learning--The Social Life of Information, by John Seeley Brown and Paul Duguid. Early in thebook they point out that, “learning requires more than justinformation, but also the ability to engage in the practice.”Brown/Duguid further illustrate the active nature of learning byoutlining the (action-oriented) steps required for a “newbie” toeffectively utilize, integrate, and understand a knowledge baseexistent within a Community of Practice (CoP) or learningcommunity:
Become a member of a community
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Welcome to Didacticsworld.com -::- November 2007 - Feature
Acquire and make use of its knowledgeWhen learners fail to be actively “engaged in the practice” they will, in turn, be excluded from the “localtopography” of the practice, as well as the opportunity to “understand the CoP from the inside out”—both of which are crucial in the transformation of information into meaning.
Supporting Digital Learning Styles
“Shifts in students’ learning style will prompt a shift to active construction of knowledge through mediatedimmersion.”- Chris DedeConstructivist learning, according to Dr. Seymour Papert, “is grounded in the idea that people learn by activelyconstructing new knowledge, rather than having information 'poured' into their heads.Moreover, constructivisttheory asserts that people learn with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personallymeaningful artifacts."Today’s learners have grown up surrounded by the digital world, and as a result have developed new ways of understanding, learning and processing information. As a result, there is a dissolving line between frontline andonline education. This current generation of students, more than previous generations, approaches learning froma “what’s in it for me?” perspective.These student directed learning styles have made the “drill and kill”teaching model less effective and relevant.Students have grown up with digital and social technologies, and are used to picking and choosing how,what,where,and when they will learn.Social media and other technologies can be woven into a course design that provides avenues that allow Gen Ylearners to engage in a social, collaborative, and active learning environment. An effective and multi-facetedapproach that blends current adult learning theory and social technologies are the most effective in designingonline courseware and teaching.
Social Media as a Pathway to Learning
“Sharing knowledge is a lovely thing.” –Jamie OliverUnder this new “digital pedagogy” learners tend to construct knowledge via self-directed and collaborativeproject based learning (PBL) activities, using asynchronous media, weblogs, social search communities, andsynchronous technologies such as real time textual chat.As students go through process of choosing, utilizing, and integrating technology—social search communities,making QuickTime movies, creating podcasts, mobile technologies, interactive web sites, e-portfolio’s, Flickr,blogging, computers, multiplayer gaming, or p r o g r a m m i n g Lego/Logo—into their projects, it providesopportunities for them to be actively engaged, as well as acquire, share, and make use of community knowledge.In addition, technology and socially rich projectbased learning environments help students develop criticalthinking and problem solving skills—both essential skills for students to compete in a global knowledge-basedsociety.This shift in learning styles will have an impact beyond the walls of the classroom.As Seeley Brown points out, thistrend has the potential to effect “not only to educators, but also…human resource departments, strategists, and
http://www.didacticsworld.com/nov07/feature/index.php?pid=110701 (2 of 5)1/3/2011 2:27:23 PM
Welcome to Didacticsworld.com -::- November 2007 - Feature
marketing folks.”
Designing Social Learning Environments
Critics of e learning often characterize online classrooms as neutral spaces devoid of human connection, emotion,or interaction with instructors or peers. Social media provides course designers with the ability to interjectemotion in the online space, thereby providing opportunities for students to connect with classmates just as theydo in the ‘real time’world of the brick and mortar classroom.The importance of students being able to make a social connection with their peers cannot be underestimated.Recent studies have showed that there is a direct link between social interaction and student retention in onlinelearning environments. The key to a successful online user experience is to help students find ways to constructrelationships with their peers, while simultaneously meeting their digital learning styles.In a digital ethnographic study conducted by Goldman- Segall (1997) pointed out how social media tools can createa constructivist learning environment which allows people to build interpretations of their data and utilize theirindividual life experience, multiple intelligences, while still working as part of a collaborative team. The use of current and emerging social media technologies offers Gen Y learners the flexibility and ability to create learningcommunities, and revisit content as needed.These emerging technologies are clearly moving education closer towards Tim Berners-Lee’s ideal of using theweb as” an information space through which people can communicate…by sharing their knowledge in a pool.”
Social Media & 21st Century Course Design
In this world of increased web-based social interaction, meeting the unique needs of Gen Y learning styles are thebottom line. Today’s students expect interactive, engaging content and course material that motivates them tolearn through challenging pedagogy, conceptual review, and learning style adaptation. This approach offers Gen Ylearners’ flexible, self-paced, customizable content available ondemand. Interactive and engaging contentmotivates students to learn through the course materials and apply them according to their own intrinsic learninggoals and styles.Instructors will need to increasingly address the needs of the Gen Y student, those born after 1982, whenintegrating technology into their course design. An effective course will need to mash up the “traditional”learning theories of Mager, Gagne, Knowles, and social learning theory with the reality of today’s 24/7 digitalworld.The current generation of learners is ‘hardwired’ to simultaneously utilize multiple types of web-basedparticipatory media. This is a technologically savvy generation of learners who have no concept of using the 26-volume set of encyclopedias. They have grown up with the web, are ‘alwayson’, and expect to utilize technologyin their learning. Students, especially on college campuses, are perpetually connected to their peers, professorsand course content through laptops, social networks, PDA’s, and iPods.In many ways the instructor needs to design courses around the core idea that students are an “end user” who willbe conducting most of their learning outside the traditional classroom. In the 21st Century classroom, the ‘alwayson,’ student will control the how, what, and when a task is completed. Moreover, instructors should understandhow the integration of learning communities and social networking technologies into the course design has apositive influence on student retention and self-regulation in online courses.
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