One of the best posts I read in a while comes from Ben Wilkoff at the “Discourse about Discourse” blog. I guess the reason I feel it is good is because it resonates with me right from point #1 as he writes “I’m tired of talking about the tools.” Instead, Ben begins to build an image of what he describes as “the ripe environment.” I have no doubt that many of you reading this know all about this “ideal” environment but it’s great to see it summarized this way. Ben also points out a potential problem in the way that many of us approach teaching about it.
So, how do we get to The Ripe Environment? Well, I have started to reflect on how I became a constant-learner and contributor to this thing I am more and more reluctant to call School 2.0. I want to replicate this process for others, and showing people my flickr account, my del.icio.us account, my blog, my podcast, my pedagogy, my wiki projects, and my twitter account just doesnâ€™t seem to work very well. What does actually work is making sure that they have the right environment so that they can explore these resources on their own, through their own creation.
This point is also important to me. I don’t know how many times I’ve simply presented “my stuff” and then tried to get the audience to imagine a place where this social/collaborative learning style (which works for me) would work for them. This approach is sometimes successful with individuals who are familiar with both the tools and the appropriate pedagogy. However, my typical audience members (usually faculty of education types) come with vastly different beliefs about the nature of learning, beliefs I kindly label “traditional”.
Ben continues with the following 10 points which characterize this “ripe” learning environment.
In order for the environment to be ripe for collaboration, educators and learners must:
1. Have a genuine need to be heard by others and, in one way or another, receive feedback for contributions.
2. See living examples of collaboration (not case studies or projects from a few years ago) that they can become a part of.
3. Have the time to connect more than two dots together. (Rather than connecting: â€œMy students need to know thisâ€ with â€œhere is the informationâ€ they need to have time to connect â€œMy student needs to know thisâ€ with â€œmy students need to evaluate this for validityâ€ with â€œmy students need to know how to use this resource to find the informationâ€ with â€œmy students need to create new information for others to use.â€)
4. See collaboration as an extension of their natural instincts as a teacher (opening possibilities for learning).
5. Find the backchannels relevant to them (these backchannels must be encouraged and honored as vital sources of learning).
6. Know that their products and ideas as valuable.
7. Understand the marks of successful collaboration. (They have to know what it looks like.)
8. Accept that questions are both for interdependent and interdependent learning. (All questions are serious points of inquiry in The Ripe Environment.)
9. Believe that personal and professional change can never be institutionalized. (Individuals create change, not schools or districts.)
10. Know that meetings, conferences, and workshops are not the places where the most powerful learning and change takes place.
Ben plans to follow up on each of these points in the (hopefully near) future. I look forward to see what he posts.