Recently I wrote an article on gender, technology and education. Dry stuff, but pretty important in terms of what I do for a living (well, until the poker thing starts to pay off anyway. I'll pause here to let the laughter die down).

There has been a whole forest of trees that have been turned into research reports discussing how each gender learns best. At least another hectare or two of trees have been sacrificed to other reports trying to figure out why girls aren't as drawn to technology.

(I swear to god there's a point here.)

I could talk about these findings for hours, but will boil it down for you (remember these are generalizations....and yes I am aware there are exceptions):
  1. Girls learn better in a collaborative environment rather than a competitive one, and fare better with relationship-based learning.
  2. Girls are only drawn to technology if it's fun and relevant. Studies have shown that girls are drawn more to the design, and prefer to work with an GUI. Hand-coding html isn't nearly as interesting to them as playing with the design elements in FrontPage.
Knowing these two facts helps me make better decisions on what to teach the kids and how to reach them. Having the kids work out a robotics program in a problem-solving group with an icon-based software program develops much better understanding of logic and language than asking them to do the same thing individually using a text editor.

The article I wrote touched on these things, but what I really wanted to stress was how web technologies such as blogs, wikis, and instant messaging were ideally suited to become components of an educators toolbox when working with single-gender classes.

(The point is fast approaching...)

In order to fully illustrate this, I used my own experiences with these technologies

Over the last year, I have used all of these technologies to become part of a collaborative group that spans the globe.

I started a blog as a strictly personal online discussion for a hobby, one that I am passionate about. I gradually found blogs of people with the same interests, and linked to them and added comments to posts/entries on their sites. We shared information with each other, each of us taking on the roles of both teacher and student. A wiki was created and online conferencing tools were used to have realtime conversations. While from very disparate backgrounds and locations we have become a close group of over 100 individuals (and growing) who now meet IRL (In Real Life) two or three times a year.

The information I now have at my disposal in this social network is far more than I ever could have gleaned by reading a book or trying to find information on my own on the Internet.

The World Wide Web has grown at an incredible pace and has become so vast that it’s sometimes daunting to find relevant information quickly. There are approximately 10 billion+ web pages out there, and a Google search gives them to you 10 at a time. It’s becoming less about knowing the information, and more about knowing where to find the information. By using a knowledge network, we have a wider selection of trusted resources at our disposal.

As Will Richardson writes in his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for the Classrooms, “…information is evolving at the hands of people just like us with the concept that everyone together is smarter than anyone alone.” It’s all about collaboration, on a global scale.

(The point emerges...)

So it got me to thinking, dear blogosphere, that I owe you all a great debt. Not just for the snazzy example so parents can realize that the Internet is not the Big Bad Wolf waiting to devour their kids.

And it's more than the poker edumacation; it's the acceptance, the assistance, the friendships, the Dial-A-Shots, the girlie chat thing, the parties, and the are beacons in an increasingly boring life.

And so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

1 Responses to “web based technologies for collaborative learning ... or ... yes poker bloggers, I'm talking about you”

  1. # Blogger Astin


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