Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The new conversation

Learners are proficient at engaging in conversations. We all are proficient at F2F conversations. Learners need to be taught to have digital conversations. I gleaned this pearl while listening to Jeff Lebow's NEIT Unconference Unkeynote. Someone in the chatroom typed it too. A new thought that was an 'ah-ha!' moment for me.
Digital Conversations involve persistence, positive responses, give and take, as well as a sense of curiosity. The art of conversation is not innate but needs to be facilitated. I need to think of this skill and facilitate more digital conversations in the computer courses which I teach.
The elements of a good conversation are similar to a good story, having a beginning, a middle and an end. In a conversation there is a greeting and initial topic or conversation starter, the meat of the conversation, and a summation and closing. Reminding our learners of these required elements is challenging, especially as we near the holidays. Conversations include dialogue, not monologue, between learners, not learners and one teacher. Many learners whom I teach are still grappling with this. Most of their teachers, they report, are seeking teacher to learner interactions. When they step into my classroom they must deal with differing expectations.
I insist I am not a teacher, I am a learner. I don't cater to helpless handraising. I don't direct all learners to do A), B), & C). The answers to my questions are not 'right there' but 'on your own' (referring to QARs). I faciliate learner interactions with other learners, sometimes those who are literally on the other side of the globe. I emphasize communication, connections, and collaborations. I need to put digital conversations into the plan as well.
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