I am a huge fan of blogs and RSS feeds. I have been using Googler Reader for quite a while now and am a regular reader of about 200+ feeds on topics including marketing, design, education, technology, popular culture and more. I like how individuals, through blogs, are able to present their own unique point of view, or provide investigative reporting on topics they enjoy.
Blogging has become more of an accepted format over the past few years. Credibility has been brought to the format by professional journalists like David Pogue, of the New York Times, who provides personal commentary on technology. Blogging also results in fun parodies, like Fake Steve Jobs (FSJ) who for months wrote clever commentaries — as if he were the real Apple CEO. The unmasking of FSJ earlier this year was a blast for everyone too when the New York Times figured out the FSJ was in fact Daniel Lyons a senior editor at Forbes. Blogs can be both informative as well as fun.
Last week Google made me the happiest Google Reader users ever by adding a ‘search’ tool that had been painfully needed. In addition they added the ability to see how many unread items you had (in the past it maxed at 100, now it goes to 1000 — which is perfect for me).
When considering Dale’s Cone, I think that the activity of writing a Blog has the potential to easily be classified as a ‘direct, purposeful, experience’ where the author is ‘learning by doing’. The act of interacting with Blogging technology results in development of specific technology literacy (e.g. using a Web browser, creating an account, configuring the blog, writing, editing, managing posts). In addition the act of investigation of topics, linking to other resources and sharing ideas is a repetitious activity that over time is refined as the author gains more experience. Reading a Blog or RSS feed can also result in an ‘iconic experience’ — if information is presented with media that supplements the text (e.g. a video, diagram, illustration, graphic). We can expand upon our conceptual knowledge by experiencing how others describe details and perceptions of topics, issues, or artifacts. Many of the Blogs I read are written by individuals I would consider to be experts in their field (Ray Kurzweil, John Nack, David Pogue, Guy Kawasaki, etc) — many of these experts present video tutorials on topics including how to present, graphic design, and product development — these videos are demonstrations that help me to enhance my knowledge. There are many other aspects of Dale’s Cone that could be used to describe Blogging — I have covered two, and will stop at this point.
So, let’s turn to Siegel’s concept of “computer imagination”…
Blogging and RSS are tools that facilitate authoring and sharing of electronic content. One way that these technologies could be used in an ‘imaginative’ way to facilitate collaborative learning is described below:
Problem: How to we leverage our combined strengths and interests as a group to research and share information?
1. Find out who likes specific types of knowledge (e.g. one person does technology, another science, someone else does news/media, another does productivity techniques)
2. Each person starts a blog on that subject.
3. Each person researches journals, Web sites, etc. and writes up an overview, literature review, or top ten list with links to the source materials (for use in future reference, or to dig deeper)
4. Use Google Reader to subscribe to all of the Blog RSS feeds.
5. Create a shared RSS feed in Google Reader that utilizes the feeds from all of the other blogs.
6. Have everyone subscribe to the ‘shared’ feed.
7. Each team member is now able to gain the expertise of all of the authors.
This is what we would refer to as a Mashup.
(Another way to do this is to create one Blog on Blogger.com and provided ‘author’ access to all team members — have each member tag/label their posts — so that later on it is easy to find posts only about ‘x’ subject)
It is amazing what can be done with a mix-mash of different technologies. However, as with anything — it ain’t gonna work overnight. There is not an ‘easy’ button. If you want to do anything with technology (e.g. author content, teach with it, make stuff) — you have to gain experience and enhance your literacy with using the tools. Learn the basics first, then find interesting projects (or make a project up), use the technology in the project, fail lots of times, break stuff, learn, grow, and eventually you’ll be perceived as a guru. It all takes time.