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E-learning expert to speak at upcoming conference

Dr. Curtis Bonk is the keynote speaker at the Faculty of Education’s EDGE 2010 conference.

By Heidi Wicks

Whether you’re arranging travel plans, preparing to knock the socks off your dinner guests with a mind-blowing recipe for boeuf bourginon or diagnosing yourself with some strange illness – anyone can learn just about anything from the Internet, and from just about anywhere. And it’s all thanks to technology.
Therefore, the education world must keep up.

WE-ALL-LEARN is the acronym and motif behind Dr. Curtis Bonk’s work and newest book, titled The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education.

Dr. Bonk will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming conference EDGE 2010: E-learning, The Horizon and Beyond.

The acronym stands for ten main points: Web searching in the world of e-books, E-learning and blended learning, Availability of open source and free software, Leveraged resources and open course ware, Learning object repositories and portals, Learner Participation in open information communities, Electronic Collaboration, Alternate reality learning, Real-time mobility and portability and Networks of personalized learning.

To individuals who are not in the education field, these points can be quite baffling.

However, the subject matter is something we can all connect with. As the opening of Dr. Bonk’s book states: “Whether you are a scientist on a ship in Antarctic waters or a young girl in a Philippine village, you can learn whenever and whatever you want, from whomever you are interested in learning it from.”
Modelled after Thomas Friedman’s highly acclaimed book The World is Flat, Dr. Bonk felt there was another story to be told. While Friedman’s book discusses well-known changes affecting education such as Internet search tools, collaborative technologies, wikis and open source software, Dr. Bonk acknowledged that the parallel trends in education were not really flatteners, but a series of doors that were being opened for the diverse learners of this planet.

Although he’s never before visited Newfoundland (other than a stint on the tarmac during the volcanic ash re-routes this spring), Dr. Bonk is looking forward to spending some time in the province. His discussion and workshop at EDGE will talk about the plethora of options that exist today for teaching and learning that educators didn’t have before.

“I want to talk about doors that become open whether it’s with reading materials online, animations, simulations that become possible through the e-book movement, mobile world movement, or the virtual world movement or whatever,” he said. “And in the workshop, I’ll give more specific examples of simulations and different concept areas, or of visualizations like concept mapping or timeline tools, or of what communities can be built online. I’m also going to try and operationalize it for people so they can see how it works, and so they can walk home knowing, ‘Hey, I can do a few of these things, and it makes sense to do so.’”

He also added that he hopes to try and give people perspective of how to use these tools from both a psychological and pedagogical standpoint.

“I don’t want them to just see the technological standpoint,” he explained. “I’m trying to look at that marriage of technology, pedagogy and psychology, and it’s that nature/nurture of technology/pedagogy/psychology behind the use of those things. And also the society and culture that you’re in provides a more thoughtful approach to integrating technology in an online, blended learning or even in a face-to-face classroom.”

EDGE 2010: E-learning, the Horizon and Beyond is hosted by the Faculty of Education from Oct. 12-15, 2010, at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s. Check for further information.