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Publish and Perish – The adventure continues April 23, 2010

Posted by teachandreflect in Uncategorized.
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In my previous post I started wondering out loud whether or not the world of scholarly publishing was dead to me as a time-poor pre-service teacher. Having lost a day of my life unsuccessfully stalking cutting edge work on Web2.0-supported language learning in the unforgiving labrynth of scholarly journals, I’m now prepared emotionally to share the rest of my adventure with you…

Day Two – Web2.0land     

After Day One’s debacle, I decided that if I was genuinely searching for cutting edge, Web2.0-inspired learning ideas, then I needed to embrace the world of Web2.0 knowledge sharing. This in fact tied in with an idea I’d been thinking about for some time, regarding the vicarious learning potential of blogs as opposed to scholarly publications. Drawing on Bandura’s theories on self-efficacy, I’d been thinking that the immediacy and real-world application of well written, experiential blogs and wikis could have a much more rapid effect than dry, detached scholarly literature on a teacher’s belief in their ability to perform similar or related educational tasks to those covered by the authors.

Anyway, the results. The next day was a “rich media” whirlwind of immediately useful blogs, wikis, slideshares, podcasts and vodcasts. An early success along this path included uncovering a student wikidot page – Web2.0 / Language Learning – operating in the same language pedagogy domeain as I was. This was a clear example of the kind vicarious learning experience I had been imagining. Prior to encountering this wiki, I’d been somewhat unproductively dazzled by the abundance of useful resources out there. But Web2.0/Language Learning helped order my thinking and offered a fresh perspective apparently unburdended by old-fashioned understandings of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). Combining Vygotskian social learning theory with Second Language Acquisition research by Egbert et al, the author/s asserted that Web2.0-supported language learning offered authentic, collaborative, social and challenging experiences for students. The site also offered an eloquent, informative and unpretentious overview of modern uses of blogs, wikis, podcasting, social networking and virtual worlds for second language acquisition.  In addition to this wiki, I found further bearings for my research from another Web2.0 hallmark, Youtube. In particular, the video introduction to freelanguages.org, to which I’ve referred in a previous post, was simililarly useful in demystifying the world of freely available language learning technologies.

So far, so good.

As my investigations went deeper, however, particularly into the world of machinima, and how I might apply this emerging practice in a meaningful, feasible classroom contexts, my new research direction began to meander. After initially seeing their potential and learning about the fundamentals, I lost far more time searching real-world examples that I could implement into my lesson planning than any of the hours ‘wasted’ on my initial forays into CALL literature.

This experience reminded me of the value of cumulative knowledge derived from multiple sources in any field. I expect the rapid Web2.0-enabled dissemination and exchange of new knowledge will increasingly provide educators with useful resources and accessible know-how. But perhaps we should not be too eager to shun the considered findings and established practice of leaders in our given disciplines. Mastery of both research domains will produce a far more balanced and better informed educator. 

I was starting think we were seeing the beginning of a new era in academia – one characterised not by the term ‘publish or perish’, but rather ‘post or perish’. But about the only thing perishing here though was my faith in the promise of a Web2.0 research quick-fix. For now…         

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