Two points from this article. First, social software enables learning conversations to occur outside of the classroom, not only between students, but also between students and the larger community. Second, when students taking ownership of their own tools, they are set up to become lifelong learners. My take is that this requires flexibility on the part of educators in that they have to be willing to go where the learners are and let the learner decide where they want these conversations to occur.
But, most importantly, their learning experiences often involve a conversation, a process, and this conversation can include teachers and others with knowledge in their field. The skills students gain in the process are those they need to join a wider community and succeed in today’s economy.
Colleges and universities need to do more to incorporate social software into their courses and methodologies. I hear from faculty and administrators regularly about transformations of entire programs to the social/conversational/active learning paradigm of today.
This extension of the learning conversation online (with blogs, wikis, e-mail, texting, chat, conferencing systems, portfolios, and so on), helps students develop online literacy skills. Though it is dependent on technology, it represents a return to the roots of human learning. Learning has always involved conversation. In fact, knowledge results from, or increasingly is, consensus-building through conversation.
To the extent that students are engaged in that conversation using their own–literally their own–Web and Internet applications, some of them have a chance to become independent, life-long learners and enjoy a better chance to develop their own expertise