First of all...conversations RULE!!
Had an interesting conversation today with a prospective teacher (1st year college) regarding the use of discussion boards in learning.Best practices tells us that asynchronous and synchronous discussions are great ways to share and learn content in all areas and levels.
His school uses Blackboard and he expressed frustration that in his class there were only 10 people, so the discussion is slow and unproductive. He said, "Why can't they just open it up to anyone that is taking that class or one similar anywhere in the world." My first response was accountability, and safety, but we're talking about college kids and much of what I've read lately says that the internet safety issue may be overblown; and Friendly Fiends are a concern under emphasized. I told him this was a benefit of moodle and told him about UOP, but I didn't know how to guide him in the right direction.
I found myself telling him about the benefits of setting up or joining a social network of prospective teachers with similar interests and taking the discussion global. Teens using Social Networking isn't a bad thing after all.
It made me think that we need to use these formats at younger ages, so the demand is there and the suppliers (colleges) will do more to meet those needs and expectations.
I'm sure there are many schools that have social networks, supports, and ways to group students with similar goals, but I'm sure it could be more productive and user-friendly.
Because, how disappointing is it if we fail to meet our students need and necessitate the need to "find knowledge and good discussion" outside the classroom.