A Social Learning Explosion!

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This week (and last week) I’ve really started to engage more with social learning platforms that are new to me, finding some I never knew existed. In my graduate course, “Social Media and Digital Culture,” at the University of Colorado-Denver, we’ve been discussing Connectivism.

Connectivism is a learning theory that emphasizes the role of digital connections: and well as the social and cultural context in how and where learning occurs. The idea is that learning is not an individual process, but happens across networks. I think my TLDC (TLDC.us) group embodies the spirit of Connectivism; we all feel that we each have something to teach, and even more to learn.

In the past two weeks, I’ve used my Pinterest more. And I tried Padlet this week as well. Padlet acts as a social “corkboard,” where invitees can post their content and comments.

I used FlipGrid twice this week. And I admit I had it confused with Flipboard, the personalized blog and news site that rivals Medium.com. Maybe the names are a little too similar!

I enjoyed using FlipGrid and answered my instructor’s request to try it out for class.

Then, the moderator or #TLDCast, Brent Schlenker, offered up a FlipGrid link this week (coincidence?) as a way for our group to post questions to a guest speaker from this week, Craig Wiggins.

Despite having had an awful cold, I took the challenge and I created a technical question for Craig in a 90-second video.  I’m not always comfortable with video “selfies” but it was much easier than writing the question and I was excited that Brent responded in a video as well, asking the same question I had about the technology we had discussed online! Brent shared the link with our guest on Twitter, and I’ll keep my audience posted on the response from our expert! This is social learning (although asynchronous) at work!

The whole week has been an interesting social learning experience for me with respect to xAPI use in DoD learning. This week, I was also invited to and sat in on an IEEE  (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) webinar about xAPI use in Learning Record Stores.

The other tool I used this week was VoiceThread. I had previously used VoiceThread (another app that allows invitees to post on a slideshow) at Babson College but tried it again a year ago for a presentation I created called, “What is a Startup?” I never circulated the presentation, so I admit, I didn’t know how it worked in collaboration. Feel free to link to it and leave a comment!

I’ve watched the VoiceThread demos though and I’m impressed by the fact that VoiceThread can give voice to students in a course using the very same slideshow and content used for the class.

Focusing on teaching materials used in class, the social learning app can aggregate all student comments in a single file! It provides an opportunity for students to “talk” to each other online in an asynchronous but meaningful discussion. The only real drawback I can see is for those who are shy in video recordings.

I was recently asked to help a University of Austin filmmaking professor with his (by his own admission, dull) slide decks. I intend to suggest VoiceThead as one possible tool that he could use to engage students in his class. I’ll be creating a demo to show him how it can be done, and I’m excited to show it to him.

Despite the fact that I already feel pretty engaged in online learning through my #TLDCast group, I am finding it exciting to try and evaluate new social learning platforms.


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