Schreiben im Web: kreativ, kritisch, kollaborativ

Nele Hirsch stellt in ihrem OERcamp-Webtalk «Kreative Schreibprojekte» verschiedene Tools zum Schreiben und zur Schreibförderung vor. Über Tools zu schreiben ist an sich nichts aussergewöhnliches, doch in diesem Fall lohnt es sich, genauer hinzuschauen. Interessant ist nämlich, dass Nele Hirsch dies entlang der 4K macht, der 4 Kompetenzen für das 21. Jahrhundert Kreativität, Kommunikation, Kollaboration und kritisches Denken.

Prozessorientierte Schreibtools

Tatsächlich sind einige der Tools, de Nele vorstellt sehr reaktiv und lassen neue Herangehensweisen ans Schreiben und an den Text zu. Bei vielen Tools ist nicht am Schluss der Text das Wichtigste, das Resultat, sondern der Prozess des Schreibens, des kreativen sich Auseinandersetzens mit Wörtern, Sätzen und Bedeutung.

Ich möchte die Übersicht der Tools kommentieren und auf wenige davon eingehen. Die Liste der textbasierten Webtools, die Nele im Talk aufgreift, findet sich hier auf kurzelinks.de, erstellt mit dem wunderbar einfachen, ebenfalls erwähnten telegra.ph.

4K 21st century Skills übersetzt

Die 4K werden oft aufgeführt, wenn wir von Didaktik und Bildung sprechen, sie werden schon fast inflationär benutzt. Hilfreich ist hier die Übersetzung von J&K der die Englische Originalversion ins Deutsche überträgt und sie dabei gleich noch reflektiert. Bei der Kreativität, die so oft als das grosse Unterscheidungsmerkmal von alter zu neuer Schule aufgeführt wird bedeutet eben nicht nur gestalterische Kreativität im visuellen Sinn, sondern einfach das Vermögen, Neues zu denken, oder Althergebrachtes und Bewährtes in einem neuen Kontext zu sehen, zu verändern und dadurch etwas Neues hervorzubringen.

Dass das zweite K zur Kommuinkation meint wundert niemanden wirklich. Es ist essentiell wichtig, dass man sich mitteilen, sich austauschen kann. Was in der Übersetzung jedoch hervorgehoben wird, ist die Fähigkeit, eigenes mitzuteilen. Eigene Gedanken, Ideen oder Erkenntnisse mit anderen zu teilen. Dieses Teilen ist eine Dimension, die mit dem Internet enorm an Bedeutung gewonnen hat. Die Nutzung und vor allem die eigene (Mit-)Gestaltung des Internets ist das Herz des Webs. Deshalb ist die Fähigkeit, eigene Beiträge zum Web zu leisten und zu teilen, sie zu kommunizieren, so wichtig.

Angesichts der Komplexität unseres Lebens sind wir auf Zusammenarbeit, auf Unterstützung angewiesen. Der/die Universalgelehrte ist ein Produkt längst vergangener Jahrhunderte. Heute sind die Expert*innen, die Spezialist*innen gefragter. Unsere Probleme werden auch immer komplexer und grösser, heute muss nichts weniger als der unser gesamter Planet gerettet werden. Deshalb müssen wir Probleme in Zusammenarbeit lösen. Um dabei innovativ zu sein braucht es mehr als Arbeitsteilung, es braucht Auseinandersetzung und Ausdauer, um gemeinsam etwas Neues zu schaffen. Hier setzt auch der Unterschied von Kooperation und Kollaboration an, den Nele Hirsch im Webtalk in einem Nebensatz ebenfalls erwähnt. Die Fähigkeit, sich intensiv mit anderen zu einem Gegenstand auseinanderzusetzen ist eine weitere wichtige Kompetenz, die sich auch online umsetzen lässt.

Abschliessend nennt das 4K-Modell das kritische Denken als wichtige Kompetenz, von J&K übersetzt als die Fähigkeit, selber zu denken, ja überhaupt fähig sein, einen eigenen Beitrag zu leisten, selber lernen zu können.

Quelle: Jöran Muuss-Merolz: Die 4K-Skills: Was meint Kreativität, kritisches Denken, Kollaboration, Kommunikation?

Innovative Schreiberfahrungen im Web

Entlang dieser 4 K zeigt Nele Hirsch in ihrem Webtalk, wie sich textbasierte Tools im Web einsetzen lassen, um neue Schreiberfahrungen machen zu können, die so bislang nicht möglich waren. Mit dem writing-tool.com kann man sich zum Beispiel den Text unlesbar machen, sozusagen blind schreiben, damit man sich nicht vom bereits Geschriebenen ablenken lässt und die Erfahrung der Flüchtigkeit von Text zu erleben und herauszufinden, wohin das führt. Flüchtig ist ja sonst gesprochene Sprache, sofern sie nicht aufgezeichnet wird. Geschriebenes ist das berühmte Schwarz-Auf-Weiss, das beständige Wort, das manchmal sogar als Beweis dient. Das Writing-Tool bietet noch mehr Möglichkeiten, sich beim Schreiben Grenzen zu setzen, z. B. in der Anzahl Wörter oder in der Anzahl Minuten, die man schreiben möchte. Es lässt sich hier ein anderer Zugang finden zum Schreiben als Aktivität, womit man den eigenen Schreibprozess schön reflektieren kann.

Sehr schön ist auch das Konzept der BlackoutPoetry, wie Nele Hirsch sie am Beispiel von versteckteverse.glitch.me aufgreift. Mit dem Tool lässt sich z. B. Bedeutung sehr schön visuell darstellen, indem man die Schlüsselwörter sucht und herausgreift, die eine Aussage prägen, um dem Framing eines Textes auf die Spur zu kommen, oder in dem man zum Beispiel im gleichen Text verschiedene Bedeutungsebenen sucht und findet, um die semantischen Felder eines Textes zu diskutieren.

Die Tools lassen sich in der Lehre wie auch privat nutzen, um Schreiben zu üben, sich verschiedenartige Grenzen und Rahmenbedingungen zu setzen, um kreativ, kritisch, analytisch und gestalterisch Texte zu schreiben und letzten Endes auch zu lesen.

#webtools #4K @eBildungslabor

Towards Transculturalism

Thoughts on Nelson, D. and Parchoma, G., Towards theorizing spatial-cultural ‘othering’ in networked learning and teaching practices.

in: Bajic, M., et. al. (Ed.) Proceedings if the 11th International conference on networked Learning 2018, p. 48 – 55.

Transulturalism and boundary crossing

Universities and colleges encounter more and more diversity among students and lecturers. International “land-locked” (p. 48) students in online courses, who remain in their countries during the courses, have different needs and bring new perspectives to the community. Cross-cultural collaboration is becoming increasingly important. This is evident in examples such as the climate crisis or the spread of the coronavirus. The globally networked world – the global village – requires the participation of everyone.

Nelson and Parchoma explore the challenges of increasing cultural diversities among students and the implications for the roles involved such as tutors and students. They pay particular attention to student vulnerabilities and instability and the opportunities that exist in the academic context to change the dialogues towards accepting and celebrating diversity. They also discuss the tensions that arise for all sides when borders are crossed. Points of exclusion and inclusion will be examined in particular, where it will be decided whose voice is heard, whose contributions are considered relevant and whose are not. Within their discussion of the complexity and tensions involved in crossing borders, they pay particular attention to the concepts of identification, coordination, reflection and transformation. With the concept of Third Space they introduce a spatial concept. I am particularly interested in this third space and the question of how the tensions and questions around identity and otherness can be addressed and overcome. The concept of ‘transculturalism’ seems appropriate. (p. 50f.)

What seems important to me at this point is the difference the authors make between multiculturalism and transculturalism. While multiculturalism just identifies the differences and propagates coexistence, transculturalism focuses on overcoming the boundaries of one’s own culture and thus actively engaging with the “other”. In a certain way, transculturalism wants to integrate the cultures present and create something new from the existing, which multiculturalism does not strive for in this way. This is why the ‘crossing boundaries’ is so important and so prominently discussed in this article. (p51)

In the concept of the Third Space the authors see “an in-between problematic space, a place of difference in race, gender, class, values, culture, discipline and so on.” (p. 53) It might be a site of conflict and antagonism, but also a space of dialogue and negotiation and collaboration.

In this context, collaboration seems to be of particular importance. Nelson and Parchoma write: “Collaboration with others, therefore is a critical factor in the development of global learning communities online. These online communities can facilitate rich cross-cultural collaboration.” (p. 49) Thus, this Third Space gives us the chance not only to accentuate the divide among different cultural groups (p. 50), but to recognize and respect group differences while encouraging integration, “the coming together of individuals to negotiate their differences, locate their commonalities, and arrive at something new. ” (ibid.) This starts with getting to know you-Sessions and lead through discussions of the “personal, psychosocial, academic, and future professional benefits of developing collaborative relationships” (p. 51) and practices, I would add. To do this, we have to cross boundaries, and often not only cultural boundaries, but also our very own personal inner boundaries. Nelson and Parchoma  cite Akkerman and Bakker (2011) who derive “four mechanisms of learning actualized at boundary crossings: identification, coordination, reflection and transformation.” (p. 52)

ONL- Open Networked Learning as an example for Third Space

In this context, a special online course comes to my mind, ONL – Open Networked Learning, which has been held twice a year for about 10 years. Currently, the ONL201 iteration hast just started one week ago and for 12 weeks it will be a virtual place of cooperation in PBL groups of about eight people from different countries. The participants are all employed in various functions at colleges and universities and are involved in online learning, openness, culture of sharing, collaboration on the web, and online course design.

The course was initiated by a group of Swedish educational developers and educators in the academic context to deliver an online course about online collaboration for scientific and educational staff in universities. Today there are about 15 institutions from Europe and overseas (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore and South Africa) participating, and so is mine from Zurich. There are ‘open learners’ as well, people from around the world participating without being backed by an institution. I’ve encountered participants from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Brazil, the US. Therefore, it is not surprising that diversity and collaboration are constantly reflected and discussed in the groups.

ONL community

Source image: opennetworkedlearning.se

The core element of the course is a *PBL-group of about 8 participants with a facilitator and a co-facilitator. They meet twice a week for 1 hour by online-meeting (ZOOM) and discuss the topics starting from a “real-life” scenario (“the problem”). The participants all come from different institutions, countries and disciplines. I think I could say that those PBL-groups form a third space, where you constantly negotiate what to focus on, what to research and how to present it to the community. What is really important is that the groups are entirely self organized. They negotiate which topic out of the scenario they want to focus on and which aspects or issues they want to investigate. At the end of a topic (2 weeks) the group shares its process and their results in some sort of presentation. They choose the mode they present the results for the whole community. Some groups try to use different tools every time in order to get new experience with web based tools.

Online collaboration is always a very extensively discussed topic, because it is what the groups do. It is somehow the core topic. The groups normally spend a lot of time on that subject over their time together. As there participate people from around the world diversity is always discussed as well.

Although the course is entirely online, the groups meet in Zoom, a video-conferencing platform which is very easy to use. They also change in roles:  One member hast to lead the session and another one has to take minutes. They change either every meeting or every topic. It’s on them to decide how they work together, what to discuss and how to present their work to the community.

Besides the meetings they work individually on their personal blogs. As a third level there are Webinars and Tweetchats once fortnightly for all participants.

I think that ONL course is a kind of a third space. It is exactly a space (online, on some web based platforms like WordPress and Google Drive among others) where participants of several institutions meet to collaborate in a self organized way. I have been part of ONL for four iterations, as a participant first, as a facilitator and as a co-facilitator, and I was in charge of our Campus group of my institution. Every time we met in the groups we discussed diversity among us and our different ways of looking at the topics or learning and teaching in general extensively, and I really think we were able – more or less, depending on the group – to get to a higher level of collaboration over the time of those 12 weeks. All you need is a little luck with your teammates and – as always- time and space to discuss.

*PBL = Problem Based Learning

See opennetworkedlearning.se for further informations.

Exploring Minecraft for education

When I started to build my space in Minecraft I just followed my immediate ideas. I did not plan first and realize then, I just built what came to my mind. As a very lovely landscape was already given, I got into that landscape and started with bricks. Brick-and-mortar.  Three steles from glow stone mark the area.

At the same time I had to learn how to handle the building material and the process of building things itself. From time to time I flew over the terrain to see who else was romping around and building their own castles in the air in this virtual and fictitious, but nevertheless somehow realistic landscape. There were a few. Some of them built real forts, statement buildings with messages like “REAL” and “VR” or “SHADOW”, another building was demonstrating its location or at least the home country of its owner by hanging an oversized South African flag on a wall. Others built their spaces into the sky, without respecting any idea of gravity, just having them lead by their ideas and the limitless possibilities of virtual space.

The creation of my space in Minecraft was led by the one I would like to have in real life: some sort of a co-working space where individual work and co-working were possible.  Instead of seminar or lecture halls with tables and chairs in them, beamer and screen, I’d prefer transparent and multifunctional – cozy – spaces, a stage for performances of any kind and an open area like a platform to use for any kind of project. Playback theatre is a method I’d like to explore, so I built a small amphitheater with a stage and a few seat rows for the audience. To leave the space open to any kind of use I did not furnish the space with anything more than a few seats inside and outside. The trees I planted should protect the building and the people using it from too much heat and sun.

The space can be used for multiple settings like silent work, reading and writing in the library. Group discussions can take place practically everywhere, especially in the patio for instance where seats are provided for several people. The outside platform is designed as a space for any kind of activity, like lectures, tutoring of groups, coaching of groups and individuals, in short: any kind of teaching. Imagine some tables and seats which can be placed as wished for any kind of teaching and learning. The stage is a place for performance of any kind or celebration.

I intentionally left the individual rooms, whether inside or outside, empty. In our seminar and group rooms, it always bothers me that the furniture and hardware is permanently installed. Often you can’t even move the tables to convert the room for different purposes. Even lecture halls are all built according to the same pattern and date back to a pre-media era: today, you could simply record the lectures of provide them in some other way and put them on the net for students to watch at home. In this way, the time spent at the meeting could be used for other things: Discussion, Q&A, group work, exercises, presentations, just to name a few ideas.

To explore the space go to the IDEL Minecraft realm (upon invitation) or see the following gallery of images:

How to use Minecraft realm in education

During my exploration of Minecraft and its possibilities I asked myself how I could use the Minecraft environment for diverse educative projects. Minecraft is a virtual environment with two modes: creative mode and survival mode. The creative mode could be interesting for collaboration and communication amongst team members. Minecraft is a space where individuals can meet up, discuss via chat, build and rebuild objects of any kind. It is less a space where a lecture would take place, as you communicate via chat. But it is primarily a place where environments and/or objects emerge, where the involved individuals can build their own space or objects, or collaborate and deal with the visualization of a collective idea.

Minecraft could be a space where to rebuild objects or concepts in order to understand them. I see a potential for group work here, somehow like we did in our IDEL course. While we built our spaces individually it could be useful to build teams to construct their idea collaboratively. It would be more challenging. Maybe a further communication channel could do for negotiating ways of collaboration and communication. So I could imagine to use Skype or Teams or Zoom or some other platform for synchronous online-meeting to use for negotiating ideas and forms of collaboration in Minecraft.

Minecraft could be a fertile breeding ground for innovation because there are virtually no limits. You can pursue your creative imagination and create landscapes or places that will then become the starting point for innovative teaching and learning spaces. One can play around, transform ideas virtually yet vividly, so that others can move around in this space and thus understand or – so to speak – experience how they could be used for education.

About intuitive tools…

learning
Image: pixabay.com; public domain

The Open Networked Learning course ONL191 started three weeks ago, and as in every course, there is more to learning just for everyone. On the tools side, a lot has happened this time. The learning environment includes a new website, new group rooms for exchange, file storage and management and a messaging system. Each new structure takes getting used to and is not accessible at first glance or even – as often required – intuitively and immediately usable – without thinking, so to speak. This emerged also in one of our group discussions, and I know it from many many other discussions I had with colleagues. Recently my team colleague sent me a link with an interesting blog post by Dave O White “Against intuitive technology”, and it got me thinking. How can software applications, technology be intuitive?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, intuitive means “based on feelings rather than facts or proof” or “able to know or understand something because of feelings rather than facts or proof”. Who can understand a software application based on feeling? Of course there is emotional intelligence, an apparent contradiction, but understanding a technical, digital tool with feeling? How is this even possible?
Emotions are physical phenomena. You react physically, for example, when an extraordinary event triggers a certain feeling in you. For example, if you have passed a test, then we feel joy (=feeling) of the body reacts with laughter (emotion). When someone you love dies, sadness and despair sometimes trigger the physical movement of “crying”. Emotional intelligence means that these physical reactions can be perceived and interpreted correctly, that empathy is possible. Here very fine emotions are already perceptible. The better one succeeds in perceiving fine emotional vibrations in interpersonal relationships and in one’s own body, the more pronounced is the emotional intelligence.

But how is something technical, which unites structures, language, numbers, symbols, icons, at all intuitive, thus emotionally perceptible? These applications are constructs, nothing grown. Someone has created the structure and now you stand there and do what someone has thought up. Someone has invented how a user of this application navigates through the content levels in order to get to the desired position. There is nothing emotional per se, except perhaps enthusiasm about a successful interface or anger about unclear labelling. But in itself there is nothing emotional in it that can be perceived with feeling, i.e. that can be operated “intuitively”.

Isn’t this similar to language? As linguists have known since De Saussure, the meaning of words is completely arbitrary. The word house with its spelling h-o-u-s-e in no way refers to the material object “house”. Nothing in the word itself tells us “intuitively” that it must be a house. It could just as well be called Kaus. Or flax. Or something else. Every word in every language is composed of meaningful elements, and there is consensus about what the word means. Consensus has not grown emotionally, nor has it grown biologically. So a word is a code for an object, a fact, a phenomenon or something that people talk about. Language has nothing intuitive about it. No feeling can decipher what a word means. You have to learn it. The more languages you speak, the more analytically you can decipher meaning if you recognize certain parts of a word. But here, too, you have to become aware of the specific consensus in the language in question in order to understand the word in context. Language, with its structures – semantic, syntactic, grammatical, etc. – is analytical. Language can indeed trigger feelings, yes, if the author succeeds in doing so. Someone can speak emotionally or express emotions through language, yes. But language itself is not emotional and cannot be understood intuitively. Language is a code that allows us to describe the world. You have to learn this code. As with language, in my opinion it is also about technology and digital tools that serve a certain purpose, e.g. communication or the transfer of money. They are media. Here, too, you have to analyze connections in order to understand how they work.

An icon as an image represents a process. Which “image” symbolizes which process is based on consensus, as is language. Whoever grew up in the eighties still knows what a floppy disk is, and it is perfectly clear to them what the icon symbolizes, namely “store”. Children today, on the other hand, must learn what the “floppy disk” icon means. It must seem completely arbitrary to them. Many of them don’t ask why the process of “saving” is represented by this strange angular thing. You may not even know that there is a historical reason for this, or that the people who have loaded the icon with this meaning have at the same time ensured that the following is (still) true today: [disk] = save.
Icons such as floppy disks, the small house for “home” (=start page of a website) or the letter icon for “email” are today central elements of the interface design of software applications and have nothing intuitive or emotionally perceptible about them. Rather, they are learned things:

What many call intuition in their lives is almost always something that has been learnt. Beyond basic responses, such as a baby throwing its arms out (…), much of what we think of as intuition is simply stuff-we-have-learned-and-then-forgotten-we-learned.*

Dave O. White: Against intuitive technology, 2015.

So this is what I say to the members of my pbl group when they say that they don’t know: You can’t. You can’t just know. You have to learn, as we all do! And that’s OK!

#intuitive #tools #design #languageasacode #onl191

A propos intuitive Tools

Der Open Networked Learning Kurs ONL191 ist vor drei Wochen gestartet, und wie in jedem Kurs gibt es nicht nur für die Teilnehmenden Neues zu lernen. Auf der Seite der Tools hat sich diesmal einiges getan. So beinhaltet die Lernumgebung eine eine neue Website, neue gruppeneigene Räume für Austausch, Dateiablagen und -management und ein Nachrichten System. Jede neue Struktur ist gewöhnungsbedürftig und nicht auf den ersten Blick erschliessbar oder sogar – wie oft gefordert – intuitiv zugänglich. Und überhaupt, was bedeutet “Intuitiv” im Zusammenhang mit Technologie?

Laut dem Cambridge Dictionary bedeutet intuitive “based on feelings rather than facts or proof” oder “able to know or understand something because of feelings rather than facts or proof”. Wer kann mit Gefühl eine Software-Anwendung begreifen? Natürlich gibt es emotionale Intelligenz, ein scheinbarer Widerspruch, aber ein technisches, digitales Tool mit Gefühl verstehen? Wie ist das überhaupt möglich?
Emotionen sind körperliche Phänomene. Man reagiert körperlich z. B. wenn ein aussergewöhnliches Ereignis ein bestimmtes Gefühl in uns auslöst. Wenn man zum Beispiel eine Prüfung bestanden hat, dann fühlen wir Freude (=Gefühl) der Körper reagiert mit Lachen (Emotion), Jauchzen vielleicht. Wenn jemand stirbt, den man liebt, löst Trauer und Verzweiflung manchmal die körperliche Regung “weinen” aus. Emotionale Intelligenz bedeutet, dass diese körperlichen Reaktionen richtig gedeutet werden können oder dass Emotionen überhaupt wahrgenommen werden können, dass Empathie möglich ist. Hier sind sehr feine Regungen schon wahrnehmbar. Je besser es einem gelingt feine emotionale Schwingungen in zwischenmenschlichen Beziehungen und im eigenen Körper wahrzunehmen, desto ausgeprägter ist die emotionale Intelligenz.

Wie aber soll etwas Technisches, welches Strukturen, Sprache, Zahlen, Symbole, Ikonen vereint, überhaupt intuitiv, also gefühlsmässig wahrnehmbar sein? Diese Applikationen sind Konstrukte, nichts Gewachsenes. Jemand hat die Struktur erstellt und nun steht man selbst da und vollzieht nach, was sich jemand ausgedacht hat. Jemand hat sich ausgedacht, wie eine Benutzer/innen dieser Anwendung durch die inhaltlichen Ebenen navigieren, um an die gewünschte Stelle zu kommen. Hier gibt es nichts Emotionales per se, ausser vielleicht Begeisterung über ein gelungenes Interface oder Ärger über undeutliches Labelling. Aber an sich gibt es nichts Emotionales darin, das sich mit Gefühl wahrnehmen liesse, also “intuitiv” zu bedienen wäre.

Verhält es sich hierbei nicht ähnlich wie mit der Sprache? Die Bedeutung von Wörtern ist, das wissen die Linguisten seit De Saussure, vollkommen arbiträr. Das Wort Haus mit seiner Schreibung H-a-u-s weist in keiner Art und Weise auf das Objekt “Haus” hin. Nichts im Wort selbst sagt uns “intuitiv”, dass es sich um ein Haus handeln muss. Es könnte gerade so gut Kaus heissen. Oder Lein. Oder irgend etwas anderes. Jedes Wort in jeder Sprache ist mit bedeutungstragenden Elementen zusammengesetzt, und es herrscht Konsens darüber, was das Wort bedeutet. Der Konsens ist nicht emotional gewachsen und auch nichts Biologisches. Ein Wort ist also ein Code für einen Gegenstand, einen Sachverhalt, für ein Phänomen oder für etwas, worüber sich Menschen austauschen. Sprache hat also nichts Intuitives. Kein Gefühl kann entschlüsseln, was ein Wort bedeutet. Man muss es lernen. Je mehr Sprachen man spricht, desto analytischer kann man sich Bedeutung entschlüsseln, wenn man gewisse Wortteile wiedererkennt. Aber auch hierbei muss man sich über den spezifischen Konsens in der betreffende Sprache bewusst werden, um das Wort im Kontext zu verstehen. Sprache ist mit seinen Strukturen – semantische, syntaktische, grammatische usw. –  analytisch. Sprache kann zwar Gefühle auslösen, ja, wenn dies dem Autor oder der Autorin gelingt. Jemand kann emotional sprechen oder Emotionen mittels Sprache zum Ausdruck bringen, ja. Aber Sprache selbst ist nicht emotional und kann auch nicht intuitiv verstanden werden. Sprache ist ein Code, der es uns erlaubt, die Welt zu beschreiben. Diesen Code muss man lernen. Wie mit Sprache geht es meiner Ansicht nach auch mit Technologie und digitalen Tools, die einem bestimmten Zweck dienen, z. B. der Kommunikation oder dem Transfer von Geld. Es sind Medien. Auch hier muss man Zusammenhänge analysieren, um zu verstehen, wie sie funktionieren.

Ein Icon, welches einen Vorgang symbolisiert, steht stellvertretend für einen Prozess. Welches „Bild“ für welchen Ablauf versinnbildlicht, beruht ebenso wie Sprache auf Konsens. Wer in den achtziger Jahren gross wurde, weiss noch, was eine Diskette ist, und es ist ihnen vollkommen klar, was das Icon symbolisiert, nämlich „speichern”. Die Kinder heute müssen hingegen lernen, was das Icon “Diskette” bedeutet. Es wird ihnen vollkommen arbiträr erscheinen. Viele von Ihnen kommen nicht auf die Idee, zu fragen, warum denn der Vorgang „speichern“ durch dieses komische eckige Ding vertreten ist. Sie wissen womöglich gar nicht, dass es einen historischen Grund gibt dafür, bzw. dass die Menschen, welche das Icon mit dieser Bedeutung aufgeladen haben, gleichzeitig auch dafür gesorgt haben, dass heute das Folgende (noch) stimmt: [Diskette] = speichern. 
Solche Icons, wie Diskette, das kleine Häuschen für Home (=Startseite einer Website) oder das Brief-Icon für E-Mail sind heute zentrale Elemente des Oberflächendesigns von Software-Applikationen haben nichts Intuitives oder gefühlsmässig Wahrnehmbares an sich. Es handelt sich vielmehr um Gelerntes:

What many call intuition in their lives is almost always something that has been learnt. Beyond basic responses, such as a baby throwing its arms out (the Moro reflex – although here I may have moved from intuition to instinct), much of what we think of as intuition is simply stuff-we-have-learned-and-then-forgotten-we-learned.*

*Dave O. White,Against intuitive Software

ONL181 | Hello Diversity – Goodbye Group

Reflection on Topic 5

Diversity networkedIn the last section of our online course ONL181 we thought about what we have learned. For me, it’s mainly two insights that I take with me and want to continue working on.
One aspect is diversity. There’s no need to explain that we’re all unique and different, that we have different learning styles and that we record content through different channels. While some are primarily visually receptive, others prefer analysis through text, others use their ears to focus on a topic. We usually use multiple channels.
The question that concerns me is how we address diversity in teaching and learning settings. The main question here is how students can perceive their diversity and use it profitably.
One idea would be to include diversity as a topic for reflection right from the start. At every opportunity for reflection, students would also think about diversity and formulate ideas as to how they can best learn themselves, how they can differ from other approaches and how they can learn from others. They should also discuss what they themselves have to offer and how they can support others.
In this respect, we are moving here on the level of reflection, where diversity is a theme.
On the other level, learning facilitators should draw attention to diversity and encourage groups to discuss how diversity in the group enables or even simplifies learning. For example, awareness of diversity in the group could make students more self-confident, as it could lead them away from a right-wrong mentality.

In our group we had many levels of diversity. One is that we all live in different countries, that many of us live and work in a different country than when we were born. So there are some cultural differences in our group. This diversity already manifests itself in the language. Only one person was a native English speaker, for everyone else it was a foreign language. In addition, each English of the other group members has a different character (accent; syntax etc.). [Google map link: https://goo.gl/3BB8pV]

 

Another aspect of diversity was that one person in our group repeatedly distanced herself from the academic world by stressing that she had no academic background. However, she was very experienced in working in groups via webinars and video conferencing and was able to successfully bring her competence to bear. Her business background also allowed her to ask very specific questions and to steer our discussion in a new direction, which might not have worked so well if she had not been in the group. So happy to have had her in our group!

Embracing diversity in a constructivist environment

One way to address diversity in the learning group is a constructivist didactic design. Constructivism is based on the assumption that every person has to develop his or her own understanding of a certain content and can and must refer to his or her own experiences, abilities, skills and attitudes. If something does not exist in the constructivist world view, then it is the absolute truth. Von Förster has already pointed out that “the truth […] is the invention of a liar” (Von Förster, 1998). In constructivism, learners construct their knowledge, their competence, based on existing research and knowledge. However, this also means that one’s own construction of reality is based on reasoning and argumentation. Constructivism does not mean laisser faire, that everything is allowed. On the contrary, the challenge is to ask oneself one’s own questions and to find one’s own approach to a topic based on scientific criteria. It is essential to be aware of the differences in the group regarding the approach to a topic and even to accept diversity as an object of learning itself.

In this respect, diversity is even a constitutive element in the learning of the individual. It has been  to my everyday life for a long time now. Nevertheless I am  surprised that I did not let it flow more prominently into my educational environment. In this sense, this is a beautiful process of increasing awareness of an aspect of teaching that I don’t want to miss out on in the future. In my opinion, this is the right direction, especially in university teaching, to give students more responsibility for their own learning in the future and to free teachers from the restricting feeling that they are responsible for the learning success of their students.

Literature and Links

Von Förster, H., Pörksen, B. (1998), Die Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners. Gespräche für Skeptiker. Heidelberg (Auer).

Holzl, A., (1999) DESIGNING FOR DIVERSITY WITHIN ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS;
http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/brisbane99/papers/holzl.pdf