Clay Shirky’s Writings about the Internet are a great resource for all things online. In this post, he writes about Social Software and the Politics of Groups, in which he describes how communicating as a group through online technologies is different than face-to-face interaction by enabling “conversation among many people at once”:

The radical change was de-coupling groups in space and time. To get a conversation going around a conference table or campfire, you need to gather everyone in the same place at the same moment. By undoing those restrictions, the internet has ushered in a host of new social patterns, from the mailing list to the chat room to the weblog.

He continues to discuss the challenges of “designing software for group-as-user.” I like the phrase “group-as-user,” because that is how my mind approaches the use of technology in learning.

“As time goes on we are going to have to get away from education being a classroom-centered activity, and move it out into the world and out into the Internet.” Professor Rice links to a video of an interview between Robert Scoble and Elliot Soloway. “Listen carefully to Soloway’s comments about the urgency of incorporating what “the kids” are up to outside of school, what excited their passion, into the education process if education is to continue to be relevant.” (Soloway teaches at University of Michigan, this talk targets K-12, but most of the principles seem readily transferable to the college level.)

For instance,

  • how one teaches kids how to learn is changing because they are learning differently through their familiarity with the new technologies.
  • the kids can use applications to produce content and materials that (generally) exceed our (already adult) capacities.
  • young children can learn reading through text/cell phones and captioning on the television.