Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting Beyond Parallel Processing

The dinner bell rang; Everyone came; Most sat silently through the appetizer...


The richness of the CCK08 course is not in the content, but in the interactions of the participants. Unfortunately, the conversation is not so likely to come to you, if you don't take the leap to attach your ideas to those of the others in the course.

Instead of working in parallel with the others in this course who are processing the rich information in the presentations and links shared by Stephen and George, I think more can be accomplished if we reflect, compare, contrast and build on the ideas of others.

As the main course of this rich meal comes to the table, I'll be making the effort to add my ideas to those of others in this course, maybe you'll do the same? Connectivism isn't found in the facts we process, but in the connections we make!

FYI, Today's Teacher 2.0 Podcast touches on this idea of parallel processing in the classroom.


Photo Credit: Groovnik

6 comments:

Prokofy said...

Well, only if you believe in the doctrine of Connectivism. I don't.

The Internet was supposed to be premised on the concept of parallel processing that would create more open and less hierarchical systems than serial processing. Of course those of us who have had to work in an office with a "webmaster" or a "network administrator" would learn quickly how serial processing and queuing up to gurus snuck back in the door again as we had to wait for these deities merely to tell us how to write the SMP thingie in our Outlooks to send email.

Parallel processing has generally been our salvation. And you'd think that connectivity would merely be another form of parallel processing. Maybe what you mean is something like what child development experts call "parallel play," when preschool children play next to each other, but not with each other.

The fact is, you can't dictate to people, "Connect!" unless you are E.M. Forrester of course.

Rodd Lucier said...

I'm using the concept of parallel processing here in a non-technical sense.

Visualize a classroom with rows of desks, each filled with a separate individual, each trying to do the same task... this is the type of learning that I rally against. Enforced parallel play (or work) if you like.

I'd much rather see students work collaboratively, and to build on the products of other learners, than have each student submit the same essay; build the same castle; or replicate the same experiment.

Maru said...

Thanks for leaving a comment in my blog. Instead of only replying there I decided to come again, I had left a comment on your map post, to read what you had done.
I am glad I did it, I learned more.
I understand your proposal, I am adding my comments in the blogs of others while I process all this new information to form and expand my ideas.

I have some questions to ask. How do you evaluate a collaborative work? How do you decide each memeber's marks? How do you decide if a member failed the course or subject you are teaching?

I am participating for credit, I have to elaborate essays and maps and as far I understand I have to produce them on my own.
Am I wrong? How can I expect someone to participate in those essays and maps, to invest time, effort, etc. if I cannot share the credit?
Love: Maru

Rodd Lucier said...

Maru,
I do think that commenting on the posts of others is the most effective way to link your ideas... or 'connect' them if you will. In reading the content of your peers, your own ideas may be affirmed, challenged, or rendered irrelevant.

In evaluating collaborative work, I believe you have to find ways of assessing an individual's understanding. Sometimes this can be demonstrated in the writings of an individual but in classroom situations, I prefer to actually talk to individuals in order to gauge their understanding.

As an example, in the task linked below, individuals take on roles as members of a team, and can contribute varying elements to the final product. In demonstrating their individual understanding, each team member would need to be able to explain the design choices of any part of the project.

http://www.ldcsb.on.ca/schools/cfe/rpt/RPT_Tech_Challenge/student.html

P@ said...

Assessment of collaborative work - now this is an area where I can see real merit in a dialogue between assessor and the assessed.
I am not, in general, a fan of face-to-face, but one thing it is useful for is judging how much someone knows about something. Obviously there are still some difficulties - the assessor really needs to know the subject in order to detect the smooth-talker. You also presumably need some standards to judge against, and there will be a tendency to require 'facts' rather than understanding even in this setting, I suspect.
The other thing to avoid, if at all possible, is setting the assessment up as a viva voce or thesis defence. This does not really help the learner to express their understanding, as it will always tend to be confrontational in nature.
Another alternative is if the learners can all use a collaborative tool which keeps track of their individual contributions. The problem there is that if they connect via other media (such as face to face, Shock! Horror!) then the record will not reflect the work that comes out of those sessions.
It would be "nice" to be able to have a video record, for assessment purposes, but there is always going to be the risk of a manipulative individual trying to gain more credit than they are due.
Of course, that happens in the individual work/written submission system typically in use now - and it has quite a low detection rate in my experience - so perhaps the 'new way' need not concern itself too much about being perfect just yet?

Rodd Lucier said...

Funny how we wouldn't think of anything but performance assessment for driving a car/plane/bus; becoming a surgeon; or interviewing for a job; Yet we rely on paper to tell us what the youth of the world are learning. In fact, we rely on the paper as the only proof worth 'reporting', when what we see with our own eyes should tell us so much more.