Learning is social

I believe learning is social. Based on the principles of critical pedagogy, social constructivism and peeragogy -peer-to-peer learning-, my teaching practice supports active, collaborative, socially meaningful, problem-solving and creative learning. Instead of a teacher-lead process I expect the students to take control of their own learning by making decisions about most aspects of the process:  the program, learning goals, platforms, activities and assessment. By doing this, I guarantee they make themselves responsible for the outcomes and goals they try to achieve. 

I articulate my teaching practice and my research through the development of  action-research projects on topics I cover in class. One of the most satisfying experiences for me as a teacher has been involving undergraduate students in action-research community projects. At the end of the semester I encourage my students to develop a project with a social or pedagogical purpose where they should show what they have learned during the course and thus have a positive impact on the community. They have developed, for example, documentaries, campaigns to support a social cause, and learning resources. I believe learning must be significant for them so I aim at engaging them in applying their knowledge and talents to solve real-world problems. I believe education must help build a strong sense of community and active citizenry. Technology is one way in which learners put this into practice using such means for the purpose for which they were meant: social interaction and cooperation. 

More than ever, technologies are great tools for fostering collaborative learning. For this reason I have explored the use of technologies especially for peer-to-peer learning. To accomplish this goal, my students work in teams, publish their work openly on the web (Wikipedia, pads, blogs, sites, content curation tools, video and image repositories) and distribute it among friends and relatives. I also encourage the use of technology in the classroom during collaborative exercises, practical exercises and peer-evaluation in real time. As a part of  their tasks, my students use technology to generate content (podcasts, videos) and for writing and turning in essays in digital formats. I have the conviction that digital competences must be developed in a critical and meaningful way, and that technology must help to promote open knowledge and free culture. To accomplish this purpose is necessary to use specific software and tools in the planning process and development of the course.

I use different learning environments to foster the creation of learning communities. I understand learning environments as a continuum between the formal and informal learning spaces, including all forms of participatory technologies. This means that students ought to articulate their formal learning activities with their informal learning networks. Learning communities are an essential component of learning and they have to be articulated in the learning process.

It is my contention that learning is a multilayer process where the outcome is a result of many variables: the personal experience, the interaction with peers and the social context. Therefore, I conceive learning as an ongoing process that gives you the opportunity of developing your talents to impact positively on your community.  

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