DREAM – Informal Learning & Digital Media

My abstract has been accepted for the DREAM – Informal Learning & Digital Media conference in Odense, Denmark 21 – 23 September, 2006.
I’m also going to participate in the PhD workshop 20 September.

Here’s my abstract:
Title: Reflections on pedagogy: Reframing practice to foster informal learning with social software

In educational contexts, as social software has evolved in both sophistication and ease of use, the adoption rates have increased with a growing number of supporters claiming the weblog and associated technologies are the most significant technological development in online learning since the introduction of enterprise level Learning Management Systems, yielding an opportunity to transform learning and rethink traditional teaching processes.

While informal learning can be viewed as an ambigous yet highly desired outcome of many educational programmes, univeristy graduate attributes and corporate capabilities increasingly espouse the essential functions in the learning processes for individuals to achieve personal and professional success. At the core of these attributes and processes is the ability to consciously learn and reflect upon experiences in social contexts – beyond the boundaries of the classroom and institutional learning.

Yet there is little evidence to suggest that incorporating technologies into existing learning environments has resulted in any significant change in learning processes. Consequently, to reflect and question our underpinning pedagogical principles when creating a learning environment that fosters the development of informal learning is the potential presented by the integration of social software into our teaching practices, rather than simply replicating or renovating traditional pedagogical strategies. The challenge will be the paradigm shift, for both the educator and learner, to the perspective that social software is the enabler that aims to augment social interactions and enrich the learning experience.

This paper will present a pedagogical strategy, developed by the author from 5 years of practice and informed by PhD research, that provides a framework for facilitating informal learning processes using weblog and associated technologies. The paper will be a mix of underpinning theoretical principles and reflections of the strategy in practice, drawing upon specific examples from a recent experience in the organisational learning context. Issues will be identified that inhibited learners when attempting to create the informal learning environment with social software and strategies to address these concerns will be examined.

Accompanying the paper will be a link to a wiki where the participants from the learning programme referred to will be able to contribute some reflections on their own practice and learning experiences further expanding their collective, informal learning processes.

I’ll upload segments of the paper as it develops – and will make the wiki available closer to the date of the conference.