Bats Aren’t Bugs!
In my OLTD 502 Digital Learning Continuum course we are working in groups to create an argument / guided discussion / explanation regarding this question:
“Does learning take place differently in online vs. blended learning environments?”
I have only just begun to do some research on this, but came across an old friend that has been near and dear to my heart since my elementary school days: Calvin and Hobbes. While pondering the dynamic nature of online learning, I was trying to come up with an example that illustrated everything that online learning isn’t. That’s when the infamous “bats aren’t bugs” line popped into my head. One google search later and I had the entire sequence up on my computer, thanks to this blog. This sequence originally ran from Oct 27 – Nov 4, 1989, and can be found on the go comics site here. Calvin lives in a very singular world, populated by a very small cast of characters with which he interacts. Because of this he serves as a great foil to the possibilities that online learning offers. Here are some ways in which Calvin could have benefited from online learning, with help from my “Theory and Practice of Online Learning” text. The quotes are from an overview of George Siemen’s Connectivism theory.
Learners of the future need to be autonomous and independent learners so that they can acquire current information to build a valid and accurate knowledge base.
Calvin does not have the autonomy or the willingness to access knowledge about his subject matter. One suspects this is because he has been subjected to a number of past assignments where he was not given the option of choosing a topic that interested him, such as a t-rex flying a jet fighter.
Because of globalization, information is not location-specific, and with the increasing use of telecommunication, technologies experts and learners from around the world can share and review information. Learning and knowledge rests in a diversity of opinions. As a result, learners must be allowed to connect with others around the world to examine others’ opinions and to share their thinking with the world. Mobile learning promises to help learners function in a networked world where they can learn at any time and from anywhere (Ally, 2005)
While Calvin’s network is very small, he does his best to reach out to those individuals who may be of use in assisting him with his report. While doing this he gets to encounter different perspectives on his assignment: Calving thinks Susie should do all his work for him, Susie thinks he should do his work himself.
Learners must have the ability to recognize what knowledge is no longer valid so they can acquire the new knowledge for a discipline. This requires that learners keep up-to-date in the field and be active participants in the network of learning.
I’m not sure if deep down Calving realizes that the small amount of information he has on bats is incorrect, or if he just doesn’t care either way. His indifference could come down to lack of motivation. If Hobbes had had a mobile device close at hand they could have easily avoided this misinformation.
Some information and procedures become obsolete because of changes in the field and innovation; learners must therefore be able to unlearn old information and mental models and learn current information and mental models. The information that is valid today may not be valid tomorrow.
The mental model that Calvin is currently operating under is that presentation is the be all and end all. For him, content is secondary to the appearance of his project.
Because of the information explosion, learners of the future must be willing to acquire new knowledge on an ongoing basis. Online teaching strategies must give learners the opportunity to research and locate new information in a discipline so that they can keep up-to-date in the field. In addition to using the Internet to deliver flexibility, instruction must be designed for experiential and authentic learning (Schmidt & Werner, 2007).
Seeing as how this is the second time someone has challenged the validity of his research, you would think that Calvin would reevaluate his “facts”. Calvin is unwilling to acquire new knowledge, blinded by the hope that presentation will trump content.
The Internet is expanding education into a global classroom, with learners, teachers, and experts from around the world. As a result, learners must network with other students and experts to make sure that they are continually learning and updating their knowledge.
If Calvin had had access to, and a willingness to engage with his class, this whole project may have turned out much better. Stubborn to the bitter end, he refuses to learn from his peers, and needless to say, does not receive the mark he expected.
I’ve avoided twitter in the past, not really seeing the point in sharing my every fleeting thought with the world as it pops into my head. I’ve generally thought of it as a tool for narcissists and self promoters, and completely disregarded its potential for other types of communication. While part of me still holds this stereotype, I’m starting to realize that tools such as twitter don’t inherently have to be anything. Their value comes in what each user brings to it.
The twitter chat was at times enlightening, inspiring and infuriating. I was following from the beginning, and watched as a steady trickle of posts quickly turned into a torrent of information, cascading across my screen faster than I could ever hope to process. As links, comments and hashtags piled on top of each other I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could manage to keep up with, and synthesize all this information! Maybe the point is to trawl through and pick out those relevant bits that make sense to your practice. But I found this task to require a faster level of processing than I was used to in online conversations. It was kind of like emptying a whole elementary school into a gym and telling the kids to discuss what they wanted for Christmas. I’m sure my next experience will be more successful, as I’ll have a better idea of what I’m getting into, but this first time I quickly became overwhelmed and logged out when the posts started flying faster than I could keep up with.
I love the idea of open environments and open ended outcomes to activities, but this level of freedom can also be a curse at times. I work well when I have a bit of an idea of what direction I need to be heading in, especially at the start of courses and assignments, so jumping into the deep end was interesting to say the least. I’m happy that I survived the experience, as I know I’m stronger for it.
I read this great blog post last year, on mapping an entire years worth of travel. I decided to do a little experiment this October, and track my routes to the many different schools that I worked at this month. Each day I traced my route in photoshop on different layers. I used the same sized line for my pen tool, but due to my messy tracing abilities, the routes I travelled more often tended to become thicker over time. Here is the result: