Building an Architecture of Participation

With access to ubiquitous technology, educators are in a position to become architects of opportunity and participation in their classrooms. This is a serious departure from a traditional classroom model and revisits the role of student and teacher in the learning endeavor.

Article on Michael Wesch

He is still giving talks, and the titles now all include the word “wonder.” Whatever tool professors can find to conjure that—curiosity and a sense of amazing possibilities—is what they should use, he says. Like any good lecture, his point may be more inspirational than instructive.  “Students and faculty have to have this sense that they can truly connect with each other,” he concludes. “Only through that sense of connection do you have this sense of community.” –

Which led me to this article by Dr. Wesch:

But there are reasons to believe that this revolution will not fail. The urgency of our movement is not grounded in a single political issue. It is grounded in broad cultural and technological shifts pervasive enough to be recognized by virtually everybody in our society. The tools that enable us to experiment with new modes of education are mostly free, and they can be implemented in many diverse bits and pieces without the need for large-scale top-down planning or intervention. And perhaps most importantly, [this revolution] is driven by what one might call a “rethinking the basics” movement, in which educators everywhere cannot help but see a disconnect between their traditional modes of teaching and the world in which we all now live.

As Dewey noted, the goal is not to counter traditional education and its strict organization with its perceived opposite (disorganization)—but instead to create what Web designers today might call an “architecture for participation.” The learning environments we need may be more fluid, adaptable, collaborative, and participatory, but they are not unstructured and unorganized. – 

Which then led me to a bit of writing from Tim O’Reilly

I’ve come to use the term “the architecture of participation” to describe the nature of systems that are designed for user contribution. Larry Lessig’s book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, which he characterizes as an extended meditation on Mitch Kapor’s maxim, “architecture is politics”, made the case that we need to pay attention to the architecture of systems if we want to understand their effects. –

Examples of User Contributions –

What ways does your learning environment invite participation?

What are the varied means for participating?

What do the lessons/activities/opportunities look like?

State of the Union/Twitter/Moodle –

Find 3-4 people and come up with a list of lessons, activities and opportunities – report out here –

How do you make welcome the introvert in this participation?

Contribute to the Today’s Meet with your ideas for how to include introverts in this architecture of participation.

What systems and structures need to be in place?

What is the role of teacher in this environment?


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