Deconstructing the Classroom Walls…

I keep circling around the work of Barbara Ganley when it comes to blogging and incorporating it into the classroom. Her post entitled “Parallel, Transparent & Collaborative Blogging in the Liberal Arts Classroom: First-years, Juniors and A Teacher” (accessed Sept. 12,05) still has snippets that are hanging out in my ‘stickies’ folder on my mac. One quote in particular stands out as being yet another reason why I am labouring to incorporate social software into my classroom environment:

As students link and refer to significant discussions going on via the Web related to the subject matter in class, they contextualize the learning in the greater conversation unfolding beyond the Academy. They can be a part of something far bigger than themselves. They experience the power of writing, of their writing. As a result they put more energy and effort into developing their writing skills. (Ganley)

As an English teacher, I feel there is much pressure placed upon me to foster strong writers, especially on the high school level. Ganley’s quote suggests to me that there is a lot to be gained by introducing social software into the Humanities, but it also implies the thing I am hungry for in teaching: encouraging students to develop an appetite for learning that goes beyond the time and space boundaries of the physical walls of the classroom.
So much of our teaching seems to be geared towards temporary, shallow learning that is learned in order to meet the criteria for some end-point (say a government exam), when what we should be focusing on is being instigators, infecting students with that desire to learn in the context of the greater world. Ganley asserts that the use of blogging and other social software provides students with a platform from which they can deconstruct the walls of the classroom and engage in conversations including ones that include, “the learning in the greater conversation unfolding beyond the Academy” (Ganley, emphasis, mine.) This idea of the classroom as becoming a place of meeting with the outside world is echoed by Barbara Siemens:

..the first attempts at blogging by my first-years have me convinced that sustained blogging over the years, not just in the classroom, but after and outside the classroom experience, as a way to reflect on and discuss the connections between the lessons learned inside the class and the world outside our walls, is perhaps the most promising way to use blogging and other social software in a liberal arts institution” (qtd. in Bill Richardson’s “Connecting for Life” )

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Some more reasons to continue to integrate social software…

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