Re: [xmca] E-Learning article from TC Record

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Tue Dec 18 2007 - 11:44:58 PST

I cannot contribute reducing Michael's frustrations, but I believe it is
really unclear what the potential uses of the internet to mediate education
will become in the next
decade, but I hope that those who theorize these matters will take into
considertion the considerable positive educational experiences we have been
able to use
by connecting colleges classes to each other, running live, interactive,
clasess with an "up close" , almost face-face feel to them, to small joint
seminars where it
really does feel "face to face"...... the distance and technical mediation
becomes transparent and great education can occur.

Even Skype, which is currently free in many parts of the world, has enabled
some great academic discussions at great distance that otherwise would not
take place at all.

These are very modest beginning, but they have been very successful
beginnings, of new forms of international academic discouses on topics of


On Dec 17, 2007 10:03 AM, Paul Dillon <> wrote:

> Michael,
> You wrote: "Can we handle promoting an education model
> that we can't control?"
> Doesn't the answer to this question depend on who is incuded in the "we"?
> It's pretty clear that the system that produces "experts" will have a hard
> time handling it.
> Paul
> Michael Glassman <> wrote:
> Jay,
> This is a fascinating issue. I find two cultures developing with a deep
> divide between them. There is the culture that wants to educate using the
> internet and there is the culture that is already using the internet to
> educate. To be honest I found the recent article in TCR on the internet and
> education to be really frustrating, talking about metaphors like the Web and
> Delivery Truck and such. What is interesting is that I never read these
> terms from people who are actually engaging on and participating with the
> internet rather than talking about the internet and what we should be doing
> with the internet. Education on the internet from what I can tell has grown
> both exponentially, but also organically. I don't think anybody could have
> imagined the culture and the relationships surrounding blogs (not a metaphor
> but an actual description web logs, like the other terms that are generally
> used such as linkages, blogosphere, and net neutrality). The level of
> education that is
> occurring is amazing, right now surrounding primarily politics, but also
> including health, and food, and the arts - but it can't help but expand -
> and it has an extraordinary momentum. There are also the wiki platforms,
> most relevant wikipedia. Wikipedia is an example of how education on the
> internet grows organically. For those of you who don't know the history,
> wikipedia was originally meant to be an expert driven online encyclopedia.
> But while they were collecting experts they put together a wiki platform to
> discuss possible topics. There was such interest in the wiki version that
> the expert driven encyclopedia was jettisoned. Now google is attempting to
> develop gnoll, which is again an online, expert driven encyclopedia, but
> more advanced than what was originally proposed. Some think this will mean
> the end of wikipedia, but anybody who has really been paying attention knows
> that there is absolutely no way to know.
> And yet when I talk to people within the university of this new world I
> become as frustrated as I did reading the TCR article. Not only does there
> seem to be a need to keep knowledge centralized (which works against the
> natural tendencies of communication on the internet - and physicists are
> actually doing research to examine this), but there is also a real fear of
> loss of information - that somehow people can't be trust with information
> that is not vetted by experts. The best blogs are written by an eclectic
> group of people, many brilliant but on the margins or outside of academia.
> Can we handle promoting an education model that we can't control?
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Jay Lemke
> Sent: Sun 12/16/2007 4:52 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] E-Learning article from TC Record
> I was pleased to see this issue raised by Luisa
> Aires. Her message came just as I was
> corresponding online with Cesar Coll in Barcelona
> about visiting again with his project analyzing
> learning from records of online university courses.
> I also advised Ulric Bjorck in Sweden a few years
> ago on an analysis of a similar sort. In both
> cases some students participated both in online
> learning and in face-to-face seminars in the same
> course. In Australia, when I consulted for some
> projects there (at Deakin University and
> elsewhere), this mixed approach was then called "open learning".
> Luisa asks how distance education and online
> learning or open learning can be more responsive
> to the perspective and interests of the student
> (a la the Bologna ideals), and I think she is
> right to signal the importance of online social networks and identities.
> Too often, our online educational forums and
> learning environments are simply "broadcast"
> models -- a central controlling source, the
> professor or course committee, puts out the
> readings, the topics, the deadlines for
> participation, etc. At most, the students may
> raise unexpected questions, but they have little
> initiative, and the whole activity is defined as
> "work", not play, and so, in our dominant
> (non-Vygotskyan) approach, as not "social" either.
> But there is interesting research (e.g. by
> Diepstraten and DuBois-Reymond in the
> Netherlands) on alternate learning biographies,
> which shows that many successful young (i.e. 20s
> and 30s now, looking back) learners found formal
> schooling an obstacle and the learning they
> actually use in their lives came more through
> their social networks. Today, we know, those
> social networks are being formed as much or more
> online as in face--to-face encounters.
> Is it possible to design and conceptualize online
> learning, whether at a long distance or a short
> one, as PRIMARILY a social activity, which has
> significant learning as just one aspect, almost
> as a side-effect or an after-thought?
> If you consider online communities like Whyville
> (for learners at about age 10-15), which were
> designed for science and math learning, but in an
> informal way (cf. the offline 5th Dimension and
> Clase Magica projects), research by Yasmin Kafai
> at UCLA shows that social networking activity is
> a predominant motivation and occupation of
> participants, who also do online activities
> whereby they learn some things our official
> curriculum may value. In many other online
> communities, like xmca, we find people as
> interested in social contact as in learning. The
> large communities built around computer games are
> often like this, organized into "guilds" which
> not only plan adventures together, but also serve
> to apprentice newcomers and teach them how to play better.
> Why do we imagine that learning goals must come
> first, and that social relationships are then
> brought in only secondarily in online learning?
> Would it not be productive to reverse this (in
> order to restore a more balanced dialectic for
> change and development) and imagine that FIRST
> one needs to build a social community to which
> people come to participate in interesting
> activities with others they like, admire, or feel
> challenged by? And THEN we can expect significant
> learning to ALSO happen, and start to think about
> how it might be democratically shaped and guided within such a community?
> JAY.
> PS. The Meyer article cited by Luisa is freely
> available online, from 2005, and its official citation is:
> Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 8, 2005, p. 1601-1625.
> [I have some reservations about the Lakoff
> approach to cultural metaphors, but it can
> stimulate reflexive thinking about the biases
> built into our common discourses on a topic.]
> At 03:58 PM 12/16/2007, you wrote:
> >Hi Mike & All
> >
> >Regarding the expansion of Internet, when we think about Distance
> >Education we also think about online education and e-learning. This new
> >way of Educating is suffering a fast diffusion and it's usually seen as a
> >business area. These two facts have strongly influenced the discourses
> and
> >practices. There are several checklists suggesting ways to offer a
> >successful online education; we can also find romantic perspectives,
> which
> >consider that online education will solve all life long learning
> problems.
> > However, these light points of view do not answer the demands of online
> >education actors (the same way they have never answered to the
> >expectations of face to face educational actors).
> >Metadiscoursive analysis may help to deconstruct some myths related to
> >online education. Katrina Meyer's article "Common Metaphors and Their
> >Impact on Distance Education...( ) points out some
> >metaphors that show us another perspective about online distance
> >education.
> >In European Universities, "Bologna process" privileges the student's role
> >. But we can't forget that these students belong to cultural and social
> >networks that construct their identity. Therefore it is important for
> >online education researches to be developed according to theoretical
> >references such us CHAT and Sociocultural Theory. As far as Vygotski's
> >perspective is concerned it is important to explore how students learn,
> in
> >which settings they do it and also their motives, tools... Theoretical
> >source of neovygotskian research is a promising way to study online
> >education. How can we reinterpret online education (in University) in a
> >cultural historical view?
> >
> >Best regards,
> >Luísa Aires
> >(Universidade Aberta, Portugal)
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> >xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> Jay Lemke
> Professor
> University of Michigan
> School of Education
> 610 East University
> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
> Tel. 734-763-9276
> Email.
> Website. <>
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Received on Tue Dec 18 11:46 PST 2007

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