Thursday, August 9, 2007

Asynchronous Exchanges

Was having a discussion this morning about the asynchronous discussions that occur using web2.0 tools. This discussion was itself asynchronous, occurring between two people on separate continents sharing thoughts while not even linked by an audio real-time connection.
The topic was whether twitter would be an effective classroom tool because conversations are not linked. Conversations on the web are not in traditional outline format, which many of us learned. Traditional debate format follows a linear path, one point after another. I remember learning it and teaching it.
Our brains are not linear. They are like jungles. This reference is now lost to me, but if anyone has it, that would be great. I first read it in a journal article by Sylvester, probably Robert. This is similar to the work the Caines were doing way back in the early '80s.
Knowledge is contextual. We must provide the prior knowledge for kids so learning is brain-compatible. We must provide time for absorption. We must create as enriched an environment as possible. That is exactly what platforms like Twitter, Ning, Skypechatting do. They are contextual, they give us time to formulate responses, they are enriching.
Our brains continue to grow new connections throughout our lives. Those experiences which are complex and challenging afford the most opportunity for those connections to be made. Our brains are challenged by participating in these web2.0 platforms. I was pondering this as I was involved in a castchat via skype with about 20 other people. My brain must be getting too big for its britches...
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