[iDC] Learning and sociality - re: Bill Gates's latest

Lucia Sommer sommerlucia at gmail.com
Wed Aug 18 22:12:47 UTC 2010

Thanks Vanalyne, for bringing up this important aspect of learning. Indeed,
what's often forgotten around these discussions is that learning is social.
When I think about what I learned during college that was ultimately most
important to my life, it seems to me that most of it would have been
impossible without both the open-ended social interaction that occurred in
the classroom and the informal conviviality that occurred outside of the
classroom. I am skeptical that this can be replicated in solely virtual


On Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 10:30 AM, VANALYNE GREEN <v.green at leeds.ac.uk>wrote:

>  Hi, from someone who hasn’t contributed in a while.  Perhaps this voice
> will seem a bit out-of-place, so I take that risk.  I’ve followed snippets
> of the thread about education and I feel as if I’m living it out in the UK
> higher education system.
> What often seems missing to me from the discussions is the idea of a
> ‘scene.’  I’m not discussing parties, though that may be included, in a
> college education.  What I really mean is an environment that is less about
> what happens in a course and more about what happens outside the course but
> because of good leadership or teaching.  I felt fortunate to have that at
> Cal Arts.  One of my teachers (Sheila Levrant de Bretteville), gave us
> problem sets where we had to create simultaneous social situations in and
> around her class.  This made the teaching less centered on the teacher and a
> thousand times more dynamic.  What I wonder is:  how to create ‘scenes’ via
> courses that are more dependent on web-based learning?
> I use Project Implicit as a starting point for talking about unconscious
> bias but there has to be a lot of work done in advance of students taking
> the test to make the classroom environment safe enough to talk about their
> ‘scores.’   I almost always encourage or have as a problem set the creation
> of a blog.  Sometimes this works better than others.  Sometimes,
> particularly shy students are liberated into speaking and being leaders in
> the class via the web.  We use Facebook to organize events and create
> profiles for work done in the course.
> The blog activities often do have the effect of creating a scene outside
> the classroom, but this notion is far far away from what I think of when I
> think of distanced learning and is highly contingent upon time in the
> classroom.
> Gates’s latest, by way of puzzling out my question.
> http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/06/bill-gates-education/
> Oh, and I use your chapter on collaboration, Trebor.
> Vanalyne
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Lucia Sommer
60 College Street
Buffalo, NY 14201
(716) 359-3061
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