Every week in our Reading & Adolescent Literature class we provide students with a general question to respond to either from the readings or from class discussions. Students are to respond to these prompts with posts on their own blogs that they started up for class. The prompt for the past week dealt with how our teachers plan on creating a culture of reading in their classrooms. In an attempt to conduct a quick analysis of these posts I added them all into Wordle to see what would pop up.
Somewhat unsurprisingly I noticed a paucity of details surrounding the use of online or digital literacies. Obviously there is a subtle art to the process of building a Wordle, so not everything can show up. Nevertheless I began to wonder what processes were needed to build a culture of online learning and being able to share these with my students.
I began to read online to identify sources of inspiration in how to build culture and I came across a discussion in the Signal vs. Noise blog that I frequently read in my Google Reader feed. The author of the post discussed the differences between “artificial” and “real” cultures, and what struck me was the “nuanced, beautiful, and authentic” nature of real culture. I think in bringing this understanding to my question about how to create a culture of online learning it is helping me to gain new insight.
If creating “real” culture in your classroom is all about providing experiences for authentic and effective use of technology in instruction, then perhaps as teacher educators we need to provide opportunities for our students to practice this in the assignments they submit. There is merit to working with students to learn and identify digital texts and tools that can be used in the learning activity, but really what we need to do is provide opportunities for our teachers to “test drive” these texts and tools and see how they would work in instruction. In the end, this is a case of considering the learning objectives and instructional goals, finding digital texts and tools that can enhance this learning, and then providing teacher educators with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to bring them into instruction. Perhaps then we can begin to create a “real” culture of online learning.