In the class that I am taking this summer, we are applying group theory in education to designing an online collaborative class. This class has been very time-consuming, not because the ideas are difficult, but because our professor has not made technology we are being asked to use transparent.
So far, we have used jMAP (a juiced up Excel template for comparing causal maps), wikispaces, Blackboard, Google Docs, diigo, and gliffy as part of our assignments. My group is also using meebo for live conferencing and edublogs for a final project.
The problem we are having is that I am the only real technical person in my group. The instructions for all the new software programs we are being asked to use are not very technical, or detailed at all really. We have lots of theory reading every week, and we are being asked to add to the cognitive load by learning new technologies every week as well.
Here’s the deal, I’m having a hard time with the technical piece, and I am very technical. My teammates are very, very frustrated with the technology part of things. Being the technical trainer that I am, I am helping everyone. I don’t mind, I sorta think that kind of thing must be in my DNA. But it puts an extra burden on me.
For the record the class we are designing is going to be so documented it’s crazy. 🙂
What I am learning in this class is transferable to work – if we want to use these new learning technologies to help our students learn faster, the technology must be transparent. They can’t be expected to just “figure out” how to use new tools AND learn the lessons the class is teaching. Work Literacy linked to a story about using wikis for group work, and all the comments talk about making the technology easy so the tools can actually be used to do the work, not work needing to be done to figure out the tools.
If you want to follow my group’s progress, check out our wiki.