Reposted from Campus Technology
by: Matt Morton, Security Project Consultant, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Kyle Bowen, Director of Informatics for Information Technology, Purdue; Joy Hatch Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services Virginia Community College System; Dr. Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies, Virginia Community College System
Matt Morton: Today’s learners, more than ever, use collaboration tools to complete assignments and work on projects. This is also a key skill required for the workforce. Being able to understand the tools and use them is part of the digital literacy that is sorely needed. Tools like web conferencing, Skype, IM, and e-mail are all key technologies that today’s learners should be coming to college with. Collaboration is one of the three C’s of digital literacy, content, convenience, and collaboration.
Kyle Bowen: Collaboration is a key aspect of any student’s academic success. Activities such as discussing coursework outside of class and working with other students on projects are correlated with academic performance. Nearly every student uses social networking websites as a way to engage and communicate with their friends, and increasingly they have been turning to these tools as a means to communicate with classmates about course related topics. In many ways the same tools students use to manage their social life are used to administer their own learning experience.
Because students come to social tools on their own, they are left to find creative ways to bridge the divide between their own personal learning environment and the institution. The widespread adoption and use of social networks creates an opportunity to improve student success by establishing learning environments that help students build a support network, allowing people to connect and share content from their courses, learning communities, and friends.
Joy Hatch / Richard Sebastian: Collaboration is vitally important for today’s “digital learners,” a term that now applies to all learners. Learning is slowly making a fundamental shift away from the “content delivery” model—still found in college lecture halls—to one that engages learners more deeply with content by asking them to solve messy problems, work on teams, and develop their own firsthand understanding of course material. This shift has been caused by rapid innovations in technology; especially the Internet and more recently social media networks, with these same technologies also providing the solutions.
Now, learners can not only read an important text, but also discuss it with the author via Skype. They can group-author a paper using Google Docs anywhere an Internet connection is accessible. And, after writing the paper, they can share it publicly by posting it to a blog or wiki, annotated with images and videos they created with the sophisticated digital media tools they carry around in their pockets. A learner’s understanding can now be easily demonstrated through the creation and sharing of digital artifacts, as