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Tech Enhanced Learning and Social Networking as a Degree

Posted Jan 07 2009 6:28pm

Collaboration_2 Interesting discussion over on Will's site.   University of Michigan is offering a M.A. specialization in Social Computing.

Here’s the list of courses you have to take:

Amusing for Sure
I responded in his comments.

The part I find amusing is the content to be covered is an established set of courses-very linear. It kind of defeats the purpose of social networking which emerges out of an organic mix of "wisdom of the crowds" and "just in time" learning.

I have had a blast this semester with a course I am teaching at The College of William and Mary. I came with a general syllabus of concepts and then a suggested tentative schedule.

From day one I told them this would be a constructivist course modeling social networking and connectivism that would be built from student passion and interest. I contacted a few practicing teachers from the international blogosphere-- as I feel the content of teacher prep courses should be developed and often taught by those who are in the field--asking them if they would like to help teach the course. I showed them the course outline and said either pick a topic from there (topics are described in general ways so lots of room for redesign) or suggest one you think should be included.

I created a wiki and as a class we began to create. I model daily how to build a network and gain access to the content you need through access to experts around the world. We do not use a text, rather we use resources we are collectively building.

Virtual Mondays
Each Monday's class is virtual and the various teachers in the blogosphere present. Each Wednesday's class is spent creating content and unpacking the things we are learning together through this experience and in their other content courses in terms of how it all translates to 21st Century teaching and learning.

Mark Wagner and Aimee Smith
The two most recent speakers were Aimee Smith, who spoke on email and asynchronous discussions and Mark Wagner, who spoke on educational gaming and constructivist theory. Aimee's archive can be seen here and Mark's can be seen here.

Electronic Mentoring

In addition, we all engage in an electronic virtual learning community that consists of student teachers (another class I have) highly accomplished tech savvy teachers from around the globe and this class of students.


All the students have started to blog and have created their own wiki space. Several projects have developed from the students collaborating together on their own and with others in their growing personal networks.

It isnt a degree in social computing but very much an example of how you can use a higher education course to help students (preservice teachers) make sense of all they are learning (both in and out of class) through a school of the future lens. Much like in the day of Socrates -- it helps to have a critical friend there modeling and asking hard questions for self- reflection.

Giving Back

The important thing to note-- as in any good learning ecology I am learning as much as I hope they are. I am also very grateful to those in the blogoshere (especially Anne Davis and Lani Ritter-Hall) for taking time to nurture these future teachers through their unsolicited comments on their blogs.

Feedback Wanted
If you would like to check it all out I would be interested in your feedback-

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