Check out the last Learning Thursday article on connected learning here.
In a participatory culture, individuals take an objective into their own hands with the intention of achieving a collective goal. In the classroom, instructors can create a participatory culture that drives their learning process forward, with the intention of building knowledge. Interactions within the learning community lead to group knowledge greater than the sum of the individuals. Educational technology provides the practical structure individuals need to collaborate and pass on knowledge.
In a participatory learning culture, each subject matter expert is also a learner. Different mediums and topics are offered for public consumption, and contributors often don’t care whether they make money off of what they’ve created. They just want to share their passions. To me, participatory learning cultures are an example of education being driven by love.
The Harry Potter Alliance is an example of a collective effort intended to create change in a number of social and cultural issues. The 100,000+ students who are part of the alliance incite major social changes. They pursue new legislation and are capable of gathering massive charitable contributions. These accomplishments are possible because a number of individuals chose to be motivated by their unified passions.
How can the concept of collaboration be applied to classroom experiences, and how can we enable teachers to deliver such experiences? In considering my own work for Adobe, I think about the Adobe eLearning community. Community members are spread across the world, and they interact through a combination of Adobe conferences and smaller events, on-site classes, virtual classes, and an online community. Adobe also participates in outside events and communities, such as the Association for Talent Development’s conferences, and web sites like Training Magazine Network.
Adobe’s community members create projects, share what they’ve done, and troubleshoot each other’s issues. The community’s collective imagination is applied to a topic, problem, or project. This makes everyone’s projects better, and over time, it helps Adobe enhance products by listening to customer feedback.
A similar knowledge building process occurs in wikis. There’s a certain amount of chaos – one person generates the idea for an article, others begin contributing, some information is correct, some is not, revisions occur, sometimes facts are debated to determine validity… and this cycle goes on for as long as necessary in order to finally reach a relatively finished product.
The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, discussed how contributors on Wikipedia are essentially building and revising an encyclopedia collectively. While anyone can submit revisions, there are 600-700 “core contributors” who work together, build the majority of articles, and critique each other’s work. Often one person will start an article and others will get excited and begin helping to build it. Every article reflects diversity of thought, which is a key benefit of the wiki format. Having multiple individuals contribute leads to a more neutral and balanced viewpoint.
One key aspect of the participatory culture is that learning and teaching can occur at the same time, in a complex real world environment. Individuals could be analyzing content, and reflecting on how their own knowledge and experiences tie in, while at the same time contemplating what they can add to enhance what already exists.
If you’re interested in creating a participatory culture for your corporate training program, check out Adobe Captivate Prime. You can create discussion boards for your learners, and Prime’s built-in editing tool allows them to create and share videos, audio, and much more. Here’s a demo of Prime’s social learning features. And here’s a recent webinar I presented on ways to engage learners without breaking the bank.