Participatory pedagogy

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Just came across a reference in my Twitter-Using Educators LinkedIn group to an article published in the Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago entitled: Embracing the Twitter Classroom. Authored by Jessica Gross, it includes some interesting references, among them a story about a Penn State University professor, Cole Camplese, who maintains a screen full of his students’ Twitter streams throughout each class. According to Camplese, once students warm to the idea that their professor actually wants them to chat during class, they begin floating ideas or posting links to related materials. In addition, where a shy student might type an observation or question on Twitter, others in the class would respond with notes encouraging the student to raise the topic out loud. On other occasions, the professor would see a link posted by a student and stop class to discuss it.

This is an excellent example of what Howard Rheingold refers to as participatory pedagogy. Bringing social media into classrooms, says Rheingold, is “challenging the 1000-yr-old paradigm that you have to learn from a master and the only way to do that is to go to lecture and take notes”. Indeed, as the article goes on to point out, “teaching students to learn from and with each other is a wise acknowledgment that more and more, students are relying on their peers for information. Sixty-five percent of Americans aged 12-17 and 67 percent of those aged 18-32 use social networking sites, according to the Pew Research Center. Students’ lives are infused with each other’s viewpoints.”

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