Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Multiliterate autonomous learner. Presented by Vance Stevens

Vance has links to his slides and audio recording and other interesting things here: http://advanceducation.blogspot.com/2008/06/have-six-weeks-gone-by-already-i-must.html so you can experience the presentation for yourself.
I got a number of things out of his talk (in addition to the names of some really cool new social networking tools). I will write something about some of the key points that he was making.

We learned the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants (2001). Digital natives are people who grew up with the internet and never knew a world without it. The participants in Vance’s talk were digital immigrants, in danger of being out of touch with the world our students inhabit.
There is a need for teachers to be autonomous learners (of technology) so that they model and inspire their learners to also be autonomous. He cited Leni’s talk and also supported the quote from Edelhoff (1984). We need to teach through modeling and demonstrating and learn by practice and reflection (Downes, 2007) and our students will do likewise.
We learned about the concept of connectivism; the theory of learning through being connected to one another. Our knowledge is the sum of what is in the network. Learning how to access it is the key.
Blogs and social networking can play an important role in learning and digital immigrants do not always realize this. Vance pointed out that schools often cut students off from their social (online) network by blocking sites or not allowing internet access in class. He mentioned the recent example at Ryerson College where a student was punished with 150 counts of plagiarism for forming a Facebook study group as an example of an institution which does not understand the nature of social networking and appeared to actively discourage autonomy. Vance thinks that blogs are a model application and are by nature a tool for reflection. I wrote something about this recently too (see references below).

I admit, when Vance began his talk by asking questions like “has anyone heard of Twitter?” (no) “Do you know what RSS is?” (no) “Are you familiar with Twemes” (no) I got a bit nervous. But as ever, Vance tied his cutting-edge knowledge of the latest technology nicely back to the literature and, of course, ultimately, the students. I came away thinking of ways to relate to the digital natives that I teach by making the most of social networking sites.

You can read Vance’s full article in Independence (42) and a follow-up by Dafne Gonzalez and Rubena St. Louis in issue 43. Http://www.learnerautonomy.org/publications.html


Downes, S. (2007). Personal learning the web 2.0 way. Talk at WiAOC 2007. http://wiaoc.org/

Edelhoff, C. (1984). Purposes and needs for teacher training” in van Ek and J. Trim (eds.) Across the threshold: readings from the modern languages projects of the Council of Europe. Oxford: Pergamon.

Mynard, J. (2007a). A blog as a tool for reflection for English language learners. Asian EFL Journal: Professional teaching articles, 24. http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/pta_Nov_07_jm.php

Mynard, J. (2007b). Blogging at conferences: A personal reflection. Independence (42), p12.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9, 5. http://www.marcprensky.com/


Vance Stevens said...

Hi Jo, nice writeup, pretty accurately caught what I was trying to say, except perhaps to stress that my main point is that in order to teach we must model and in order to model we must practice, which means that we must DO what we are teaching.

My slides are up now: http://tinyurl.com/5qmuxd

Hope you enjoy them, and nice to meet so many old friends and make new ones at IATEFL in Exeter. Wish my stay could have been longer. ^V^

Vance Stevens said...

Hi, this blog seems to be a focal point on where one finds resources regarding this preconference event, so one thing further ... I managed to place online a recording of a talk very similar to the one I gave at IATEFL, delivered only days later in Abu Dbabi. In fact this recording is what I had intended for IATEFL had I been able to go online during my presentation. Enjoy at: http://tinyurl.com/468qrp - Vance

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