As I walked to the front of my ED 257A class (Teaching and Learning with Digital Media), I looked around at my fellow classmates and wondered how my presentation could compete with the 24-inch iMac computers in front of them. Not only were these computers physical barriers that separated students from the teacher or presenter, these computers were the gateway to information – why would the students listen to me when they could look up the same information in seconds on the Internet? I myself have fallen victim to the allure of the World Wide Web during class lectures and presentations. I’ll look up an article or two (or Wikipedia page) that describes what the teacher is talking about, read it, and then move on to more important things like checking email and responding to Facebook posts while the teacher continues talking at the front of the classroom.
I started my presentation with minimal expectations, and then something changed – I saw for the first time how technology is redefining education. My presentation was a critique of the social learning network for students and teachers, Edmodo. This website has a lot of promise for being an interactive learning environment that can supplement in-class learning or fuel learning outside of the classroom. During my presentation, some of my classmates were actually looking up toward the front of the class, but the rest were furiously typing and clicking away at their computers. I finished my presentation and asked if anyone had any questions – a student raised her hand and said she had just set up an Edmodo account and was wondering if she could create separate class groups. Another student had pulled up several articles about whether Edmodo “stole” the interface of Facebook and shared a summary of what he found. Three more students referenced articles they read or experiences they had using edmodo that all took place during my 15-minute presentation.
One student asked whether Edmodo had the capability of engaging students for countless hours every day in learning the way people spend 4+ hours on Facebook daily and this lead to an in depth discussion with my classmates finding articles online to support their argument.
This is learning 2.0. In a typical computer-less classroom, my classmates would watch my presentation and share a few thoughts (like “good job”). Some might even remember the website when they return home so they can check it out. But in a computer lab, my classmates were taking what I was showing and researching, trying out things, and sharing their experiences. The questions and discussions were in-depth and people even cited various resources.
The next student started presenting another online tool. I looked up the tool on my computer in seconds and then moved on to checking my email….I had 4 new Edmodo “friend” requests…from my classmates (they listened!). Presentation – success!