Monday, June 13, 2011

35. Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap - How Web 2.0 Can Help Business Education to Foster Organizational Learning
Dr. Ulf Ehlers, University of Duisburg-Essen, and Dr. Dirk Schneckenberg, ESC Rennes School of Business (paper)

The interest in this particular article lies in the idea that Web 2.0 technologies have the "potential to move education from knowledge transfer to competence development" (Page 1), even though the key focus of the topic gravitates around the learning environments of business education.

I believe it worthwhile as some really concrete and important elements are included and can be easily transferred between the article and education and ESL education in specific. Some key points follow:

  1. Even though Web 2.0 technologies abound in the world of the Internet their systematic use and full integration in educational settings remains marginal and sporadic - reasons for this situations often remain unknown or hard to pinpoint. (page 2)
  2. The element of reflection in intentional use and following the use of Web 2.0 technologies is suggested as a crucial step to achieve a better implementation and use of these technologies in the education field.
  3. A nice definition is given to qualifications (descriptive educational learning objectives taught in courses - page 3) and competences (dispositional abilities to efficiently act in complex situations - page 3). Both require what the article calls: active learning and experience making situations. These appear to be highly transferable / desirable settings in any educational endeavour, and specifically to ESL settings. 
  4. Another key definition is the use of "unstable character of learning"
One important aspect of the role of learning in competence development is the unstable character of the learning process. Learning is sparked and initiated through a state of irritation, which is caused by action that takes place in an unstable, non-routinised and complex context. In this unfamiliar and complex context, the effect of individual or collective action is not predictable, as any experience on the effect of action is lacking.

This idea of instability can truly be supported by interactive web technologies, where the nature of learning is based on the discussion and collaboration, the sharing of findings, the prompting of questions and building of knowledge in the true constructivist sense. Nothing is written in stone, and information is used for specific and often complex needs, like the often mentioned "wicked problem".

In the competence based learning the learner has to be "active and participative" (page 4). Nothing new here. What the article then moves on to describe is a specific case study to support the idea of reflective learning.

The nature of tools such as blogs are innately conducive to the idea of reflecting while sharing and opening doors (through comments and other posts) to extend ideas to wider horizons. Tools such as wikis elicit collaboration in virtual settings that remain solidly valuable for synchronous and asynchronous communication, and can still promote reflection by tracking history settings and changes over time.

It seems, as the article states at the beginning, that the tools are there - however their effective and steady use in the education field remains mysteriously low.

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