Microblogging in the classroom. From information to participation

On June 8h, 2012, my colleague Agustí Cerrillo-Martínez and I are presenting a communication at the 3rd Conference on Law Education and Information and Communication Technologies.

For the last two years we have been using microblogging (StatusNet) in the virtual classroom of the graduate studies on e-Government. The first year, during the pilot phase of the project, the experience went quite well: it helped the students to feel less alone in their online learning process, and there was some interesting sharing of external resources too. This year the experience has been a total success.

There are two main differences from last year’s edition to this year’s:

  • A greater uptake of nanoblogging and web 2.0 tools in general both by students and professors.
  • A much more commitment of the professors that gave a much greater sense of purpose to the tool.

In fact, we believe that this last reason (which actually is a double one) is the main reason for success. And it might sound obvious to most readers (of course teacher engagement is important, of course thinking about the goals and not the tool is important), but there still is some feeling of “build it and they will come” in the field of instructional technology.

In our case, we did have our problems/goals and we did come up with the microblog as a solution to our problems when the initial team met and designed the project (for further information, please see Microblogging in a Virtual Classroom and Herramientas colaborativas en las aulas. Microblogging). But we definitely needed a pilot phase to learn how to realize the potential of the tool and make the best of it. And teacher involvement and expertise in the tool was much more important that what we initially thought.

As per the outcomes part, we are happy that the microblog opened a breach in the “walls” of the virtual campus. The microblog acted as a trojan horse that enabled feeding the virtual classroom with information from “the outside”. This has double importance for us: on the one hand, it breaks the lecture-like structure of the learning process; on the other hand, it implicitly tells that there is no inside-outside learning, that there is no formal-informal learning: learning just is, and it just happens in different ways depending on the people with whom you learn and the place where you just happen to be.

This last statement has always been true. But the need to make the learning process efficient and effective end up with it being bound within the school and the university, and limited in a given period of time (during the day, during one’s life). It is just now, that we have learning and knowledge technologies, that we can recover a learning that happens in the continuum, and not discretionary.

A second outcome, and one that strengthens the previous one, is that the classroom has become a more participative one. If in the first edition some students would randomly share resources, the second edition has been rich with interaction. Information has still been the currency upon which interaction has been built, but the greater engagement has turned the microblog a meeting place, not an information posting place. We believe that, even if just slightly, the microblog contributed to turn a classroom into a community of learning and practice.

Here follow the materials for this communication. The slides of the presentation are available in English and Spanish. The full text of the communication is only available in Spanish.

English

logo of PDF file
Slides as PDF:
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging in the classroom. From information to participation. III Conference on Law teaching and Information and Communication Technologies. 8 June 2012. Barcelona.

Spanish

logo of PDF file
Presentación como PDF:
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación. III Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación . 8 de Junio de 2012. Barcelona.
logo of PDF file
Texto de la comunicación:
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación. III Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación . 8 de Junio de 2012. Barcelona.

3rd Conference on Law Education and Information and Communication Technologies (2012)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2012) “Microblogging in the classroom. From information to participation” In ICTlogy, #105, June 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3947

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