Read-write learning in professional development

In an earlier post, I described the concept of read-write learning in which learners generate knowledge in their own words. Web 2.0 software such as blogs and wikis are ideal for such activities. Engaging learners in collaboratively developing resources provides an opportunity to make prior experience and knowledge explicit, and develop a shared understanding of key concepts. It also helps establish a relationship based on equality and learning from each other. Working in a professional development context often entails a more applied focus than a purely academic programme. The emphasis is on ‘changing practice’ rather than ‘imparting a body of knowledge’. So the potential for deeper and more contextualised learning enabled by read-write learning processes is highly appropriate.

In my experience in professional development in education, read-write learning processes using blogs and wikis can help lead to a shared body of knowledge which is broader, deeper and better contextualised to participants’ needs and interests than any individual ‘expert’ is able to provide.

Possible drawbacks include:

  • participants may contribute ‘faulty knowledge’
  • participants may be reluctant to contribute – ‘give me the answers’
  • the problematic role of the ‘expert’ – how and when does the facilitator intervene?

But I believe these should be seen as opportunities for further development rather than reasons to avoid collaborative authoring. Simple web-based tools such as wikis and glossaries can provide useful environments for building resources collaboratively.

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  1. Pingback: Helping learners write and think with a wiki | Verso

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