Ewan McIntosh (2006), in Coming of Age, writes, “For the current UK classroom socialising is postively discouraged.” This situation is not unique to the UK, one where “students are programmed to write for the teacher as their audience” (Freedman, 2006). Rather than go into a lengthy explanation or discussion of why it is important to allow for teachers to allow students to capitalize on the social nature of learning, I will let the quotes speak for themselves.
McIntosh explains, “I began to encourage socializing offline, in the classroom, and online, on blogs and podcasts, and saw a monumental improvement in students’ work and grades. He continues by explaining that “students were not doing their work for me, for their parents or even for themselves….they were doing it ‘for their public’ [my emphasis].” His students public was comprised of 30,000 readers and 11,000 listeners!
With user-created content, “it’s all about the audience, and the “audience” is no longer merely listening. No longer satisfied to be consumers of content, today’s audience creates content as well. The challenge for us as educators is to figure out how to harness that power in a learning context. The social aspects of these audience-centered technologies, firmly established as powerful tools for creative expression, offer great potential to build community in the context of teaching and learning…” (Horizon Report, 2007)
“The collaborative environment that wikis facilitate can teach students much about how to work with others, how to create community, and how to operate in a world where the creation of knowledge and information is increasingly becoming a group effort” (Braun, 2006).