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It’s amusing and edifying to revisit the last “Curious David” blog piece I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JSOnline) before they discontinued (terminated) their educational community bloggers. I still stay in touch with one of those community bloggers–and a number of the students who took this “Pioneering Learning Tools Course” a decade ago. They taught me much.

Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools By David Simpson Monday, Sep 1 2008, 09:32 AM I’m nervous and excited. Time to take¬†off my invisibility cloak. Tomorrow¬†(Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 8:00 a.m.) I meet in person for the first time with my¬†20 first-year students. What an immense¬†responsibility to be their first professor! We’re going to explore 21rst¬†century learning tools such as blogs,¬†wikis, podcasts, social networks, virtual worlds, and Youtube. The idea for this course emerged from my¬†experiences writing this Curious David blog column. Last year’s opportunity to¬†write for JSonline was transformative for¬†me as I learned from elementary and secondary school teachers, high school¬†students, virtual school advocates, retired¬†faculty and readers about innovations, challenges and successes they faced¬†promoting learning.

In this first-year seminar we shall focus on some of the 25 free learning tools described by educator Jane Hart. As we examine these learning tools we hope to answer questions such as these: 1. To what degree can these web tools truly enhance student learning? 2. To what degree are they just cool tools? 3. Could they be used to develop critical thinking? 4. Do they improve or degrade communication skills? 5. Might they be applied to fostering cross-cultural or international understanding? 6. Might they strengthen or weaken writing skills? 7. What are their weaknesses or dangers? Should they complement or replace 20th century learning skills/tools? 8. How can one evaluate their effectiveness?

We shall read two books—Little Brother,¬†a work of fiction (maybe it is fiction) and a¬†work of nonfiction Dispatches from Blogistan. My¬†intent is to assist students in the transition from high school to college–and to¬†investigate Web 2.0 learning tools which¬†might be useful across classes and in the workplace. I want to involve them in¬†educational experiences that will develop¬†and enhance abilities in reading, writing, reflecting, presenting, thinking, and¬†producing. Writing exercises will include¬†papers, journals, blogs/wikis, and exams. Presentations will be both formal and¬†informal; individual and in small groups.¬†Collaboration will be both with fellow students and with me¬†I welcome reader feedback about this course. I’d gladly share a course¬†syllabus in .pdf format which has many¬†hypertext links. (Indeed, I’d welcome¬†reassurance that I still have readers after a¬†two month hiatus from writing!). Still Curious, David email me at dsimpson@carrollu.edu.

Tomorrow’s final exam may give me some insight into what the students have learned. I received an email today from someone in Great Britain interested in the course.¬†It is my intent to begin (renew) serious writing in a blog format starting in January. I’ll most likely use Type Pad. I’ve learned so much — and have so much to learn.  ]]>