What is learning? What is technology?

This week, I started teaching the first year cohort of MSU’s Master’s in Educational Technology program in Dublin, Ireland. My colleague, Kristen Kereluik and I, asked our students two questions on the first day: What is learning? and What is technology?

Always trying to embed an opportunity to explore the affordances and constraints of different tools for learning, we recorded the question about learning on chart paper.

For the question about technology, we used Wallwisher, a tool that I blogged about a while back. You can see the wall on which students wrote their thoughts below.

Not surprisingly, we discovered a couple of things about the pros and cons of using Wallwisher for a synchronous brainstorming session. First, it doesn’t refresh automatically as a Google Doc would. The conversation was stilted by students not seeing what others had posted. Second, the instructor had to continually refresh while also responding to students’ thoughts — not so easy. We decided the tool might work better for asynchronous idea sharing.

Importantly, I share these images because they offer evidence of how our students were thinking about learning and technology on the very first day of their program. I wonder how they will answer these questions differently (if at all) on the last day of the first year program here in Dublin, or on the last day of their degree program in three years’ time. I’ll be working to support change over the next four weeks — but I’ll be very interested to learn which of their ideas are most intractable, and which of them morph into something different.

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