Enhancing the Classroom through Learning Communities: April 24-May 10, 2006

Intellectual Constipation

Intellectual Constipation

by Les Hanson -
Number of replies: 5

I was at a conference today and was approached by a colleague who wanted two things from me: permission to post some materials that I had created in a learning repository, and advice on how to get other instructors to share their materials as well.

I had no problem with the first request; I've put a number of materials on web sites and have no problem sharing them with other instructors either at my own institution on secure sites or elsewhere on public sites.  It was the second request that had me stumped. 

A year or two ago I set up a password-protected SharePoint site specifically intended for instructors in my department to use to exchange teaching materials with each other.  Technically, it works flawlessly.  It is secure, easy to use, and fast.  The counter on it indicates that instructors are taking materials from it.  The problem is that the sharing only works one way.  Other instructors simply will not post to it.  These are not lazy people, nor are they ungenerous; they are happy to share paper copies of their work.  I receive e-mailed teaching materials from people quite regularly.  However, they draw the line at any forum where they don't have direct contact with the recipients of their work.  When asked why, they sometimes mumble something about losing control over their work.

That brings me to my question.  Assuming that learning repositories and other such tools fit the definition of learning communities, does anyone have any advice on dealing with this sort of intellectual constipation?  I read Rogers' article http://ifets.massey.ac.nz/periodical/vol_3_2000/e01.html that Barb Berry posted on "Defining Communities" but it didn't answer my question.  And since this topic/question is quite different from the rest of the thread so far, I thought it was time to start a new one.  Any help would be appreciated.

In reply to Les Hanson

Re: Intellectual Constipation

by Bruce Jones -
Again what kind of community are we discussing here... learning (students sharing and learning) or ... professional (teachers sharing lessons plans and stategies)? 

" ... they sometimes mumble something about losing control over their work."
I think this is a legitimate concern.   I would be willling to bet the teachers involved are either older teachers uncomfortable with computers and tend to teach in a behavourist style or are teachers who see only disadvantages and pitfalls of newer teaching technologies.

I have been amazed by the attitude of many educators toward the use of Instructional designers because it appears to take the teacher's control away.  Instruction and training would show the teacher that the ID would be an asset.
In reply to Bruce Jones

Re: Intellectual Constipation

by Stephanie Chu -
Liz also raised a similiar question to Barb, early in this discussion about a community space for instructors in Business where there was no engagement, and I gather, no exchange in resources.

Picking up on a point Bruce made, "I would be willling to bet the teachers involved are either older teachers uncomfortable with computers and tend to teach in a behavourist style or are teachers who see only disadvantages and pitfalls of newer teaching technologies."

That's definitely a possible reason. Two other factors may be a) the lack of a sense of identity with community members: it isn't clear "who's actually out there", so "*anyone* can access one's work", and b) how easy it is to contribute. Having to upload a file by searching through one's computer, uploading it to a browser, and then providing contextual information, is still time-consuming. Would instructors or working professionals share their work more if it was an easy drag-and-drop process from one's computer into a box, type in a line or two for context, and then it's done?

It sounds like we'd benefit from the literature, as Les requested. I'll try to find some and will post them if I'm successful. Does anyone have sources to help us gain a better grasp about why people may or may not share their work in CoPs or student learning communities?
In reply to Les Hanson

Re: Intellectual Constipation

by David Millar -
Reflecting on Lee Hanson's experience, I encountered similar problems in getting colleagues at the University of Victoria to participate in creating a repository of primary sources and teaching rubrics. For details see my CHIPSO attachment.

I hope to complete this project in the next month or two.

It seems worthwhile to discuss ways in which "sharing" could be encouraged, among teachers as well as among students. This morning I began to collect e-learning stories, principles, tips and tricks from miscellaneous Web sources using Delicious, and would be willing to share these with all of you by posting the URL here, sometime in the next few days.

I just moved from Victoria to Montreal on 5 May 2006, three days ago, and am struggling to make my new bilingual computer work exactly like the one I was used to. Am encountering all kinds of newbie problems.

I participated in SFU's GEN seminars a few years ago, when I was teaching an Athabasca course about online learning. Am I correct in assuming that SCoPE is a successor to GEN? I'd be grateful if someone could point me to a summary history.

In reply to David Millar

SCoPE and GEN: a summary history

by Sylvia Currie -
David, great to see you here in SCoPE!

Yes, in a way SCoPE is a successor to GEN. The funding for GEN ran out after the Telelearning Network of Centres of Excellence projects came to an end. I continued to receive many email messages from GEN members -- actually I still do years later, mostly from people wanting access to the archived discussions. Anyway, the Learning and Instructional Development Centre at SFU generously offered support to launch SCoPE, and we carried over same format of scheduled seminar discussions moderated by volunteers in the community. That's an abbreviated history.

I look forward to your delicious collection related to "sharing" among students and teachers!

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: collection(s) related to "sharing"

by David Millar -
I thought I better distinguish between three topics I'm interested in.

1. Edublogs: I have no collection related to "sharing" yet. My previous post about "sharing" was in reference to my discovery of SCoPE and its GEN predecessor (thanks for your reply, Sylvia). However, with the aim of setting up in future a group blog (see 2), I have for the last  two months been collecting websites related to online collaboration and its principles, e-portfolios and e-learning, blog design, & place-specific blogs. (see edublogs, attached). In the last few days I have been using Delicious to aggregate similar sites and will be happy to discuss this in a future posting.

2. I have just moved to Montreal from Victoria BC, so a multilingual 'Voices of Montreal' site using recorded life-histories and podcasts is merely an idea at this stage. However, I would love to get advice from anyone about the best way to set it up. One concern I have is how to avoid inter-ethnic 'flaming', and/or how to establish collaborative principles by group consensus or informed consent.

3. CHIPSO: The collection mentioned in my previous posting is of primary sources, texts and images related to Canadian history. I hope to complete this project in the next few months.