Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who are you, and what do you do?

Jeff Lebow and Dave Cormier often start their interviews with this question, and now they've got all their webcasters doing it. In case I'm asked ...

I'm Vance, and I aspire to doing significant work in the area of educational technology as it applies to formations of what I used to think of as communities of practice but which I am now starting to view more as distributed learning networks. My oeuvre explores the nature and ecology of those networks through application of emerging (also referred to as ‘transformational’ and ‘subversive’) technologies in appropriate ways to the intersections of the knowledge within those networks and the pedagogies that are felt to best impact students (e.g. constructivist, connectionist).

Update: I have characterized this oeuvre in a book chapter:
Stevens, V. (2014). Connectivist Learning: Reaching Students through Teacher Professional Development" in Son, J.-B. (Ed.). Computer-assisted language learning: Learners, teachers and tools. APACALL Book Series Volume 3. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. http://www.cambridgescholars.com/computer-assisted-language-learning/.
A pre-publication last-draft version of the chapter is available here: http://tinyurl.com/small2014

My more recent work has involved Web 2.0 technologies and the many ways, such as through RSS and the blogosphere, that content can be tagged in evolving folksonomies over the Internet and then aggregated in such a way that it becomes knowledge within a distributed learning network. I have been exploring with likeminded peers and students, often students in the online environment, how this knowledge can be most effectively distributed throughout our respective networks, and how these networks can merge into broader yet ever more inclusive wide-networks.

Access to such networks requires an expansion of 20th century concepts of literacy into multiliteracies models. I have been working extensively within a multiliteracies construct, teaching courses on the topic, and practicing wherever possible multiliterate approaches to information dissemination throughout my own learning networks, including those of my face to face students. I have sought to be a change agent, achieving some measure of success in the broader distributed educational community, while making some inroads in the more local one where I work.

Locally I've had perhaps most impact on my own students, where I have been able to model for them heuristics that they can pursue in their own quest for knowledge in a world where the jobs we are training them for haven’t been invented yet, and where the information needed to perform those jobs must be gleaned from online communities of practice which in turn filter content through distributed learning environments, and aggregate and remix this content into knowledge applicable to whatever real-world environment our students find themselves in when they need to perform tasks they desire to do in a decreasingly predictable future.

Application of the expertise to do this requires an evolution in perception of pedagogy that I feel that educators are tending to, at a greater pace in some parts of the world than others. Whenever possible I try to take advantage of opportunities to help others to reflect on their practice and consider possible applications of technology to enhance their ability to achieve whatever they are trying to accomplish in the classroom, whether it be from a teacher’s or learner’s perspective.

That's my current theory at any rate, but I expect to be changing it due to unforseen developments in the near future, which I'm hoping I'll be equipped to adapt to through appropriate perspectives on knowledge acquisition and dissemination that I am trying to understand and apply today.

A 2010 follow-on to this post appears here:


Jeff Lebow said...

Wow, good answer! I think we need to have you on a webcast soon so we can give you a chance to use what you've prepared :)

Enjoyed listening to your appearance on TeachersTeachingTeachers 82.

Vance Stevens said...

Thanks Jeff, you know I have great respect for your and Dave's phenomenal work. For the rest of y'all out there, Jeff is referring to http://teachersteachingteachers.org/?p=145. Have a listen!