Picture of Mark Wenta
Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Mark Wenta - Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 11:38 PM
 

I really connected with the Thornburg article, "Campfires in Cyberspace: Primordial Metaphors for Learning in the 21st Century." I believe that the three "locales," as tools for learning, are every bit as important as the author claims.

Though the article is mildly outdated (2001), Thornburg gives an interpretation of the campfire, watering hole and cave in a modern context. My challenge for you is three-fold:

1) Do you agree with the author regarding the importance of the three "locales" in the learning process?

2) What is your interpretation of the three locales in todays technical landscape?

3) How can you address the three locales in an E-learning context?

Choose at least one question to discuss. Use your own experiences and limited quotations from the reading or outside sources when responding.

Please consider:

 
Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Christin Hunter - Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 6:44 PM
 
Hi Mark,
I, too, enjoyed this reading.
In answer to question one, I do agree with the importance of these learning locales.
As noted in the article, "The learning community of the campfire brought us in contact with experts, and that of the watering hole brought us in contact with peers. There is one other primordial learning environment of great importance: the cave — where we came in contact with ourselves."
No matter what expression or analogy we use to coin these learning locales, I think they exist and need to be considered important. All levels of learning here apply to almost every learning experience I have had in my life. I look to experts for help, I appreciate peers and learn from them, and I take an active individual role in my own learning.
As an instructor, I value my role as the expert and hope the students do too, always want students to learn from peers, and need them to be able to individually learn content. Therefore, I do think this reading helped to reinforce the idea of different methods of learning, and I am in the process of considering how to make them present in the virtual world in the online classroom.
Christin in FL
Picture of Mark Wenta
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Mark Wenta - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 7:12 PM
 

Thanks, Christin. I am in the process as well. I was just thinking about the watering hole component, and I think there are a couple of conflicting facets to it. On the one hand, you can prompt participation from more sources than you might be able to in a face to face setting. On the other hand, the very nature of the communication, typing, elicits a much shallower dialogue between peers, does it not? It is much easier and faster to speak than type. You can get out a lot of information in a shorter amount of time. And you tend to color what you say far more than what you type.

For this reason, I really wonder if we get the same watering hole effect online. And if not, can it still be as affective?

Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Christin Hunter - Sunday, October 21, 2012, 10:05 AM
 
Hi Mark,
I agree it takes much more "work" to achieve this effect online...it is just not as simple as f2f contact; I think it can be done, but participants may or may not be inclined to put that much effort into it as they might be f2f, so it is hard to know if you have ever really achieved the learning locale in the same way. Typing in itself is hard work for some, so just that one aspect could affect the students....never-mind, content, tone, critical thinking skills, etc.....it is a very interesting topic...
Christin in Fl
Picture of Jef Halverson
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Jef Halverson - Thursday, October 18, 2012, 1:04 PM
 

Mark,

I like the technique of posing a number of questions and not requiring that all be responded to. I think that getting started when writing something is often a road block for students. Giving some choices might provide something that a student is able to connect to better to get going. Once they start, responses to additional questions may form.

Jef @ WI

Picture of Monica McQuaid
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Monica McQuaid - Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7:27 PM
 
Jef-

I also like the fact that you can choose one out of the three questions. That gives them the ability to fully develop the answer to that question.

Monica@GA
Picture of Mark Wenta
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Mark Wenta - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 7:17 PM
 

Thanks, Jef, but for you I'm going to make an exception: you have to answer all three.

Hmmm... humor really doesn't translate well to text, does it?

- Mark from Chippewa Falls

Picture of Jef Halverson
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Jef Halverson - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 11:24 PM
 

Mark - I'm chuckling at your second sentence but was taken aback at first with the first.

Jef @ WI

Picture of Jef Halverson
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Jef Halverson - Thursday, October 18, 2012, 5:28 PM
 
In response to question one, I agree with the author regarding the importance of these locales in the learning process. Even in a discipline like accounting or a hard science, I see the dissemination of knowledge as a form of story telling. I interpret the metaphor of story telling as passing on valuable lessons. The watering hole is alive and well. In online learning it is represented by the course sites and other learning portals utilized. The better that these tools are constructed, the more fruitful the watering hole becomes. The cave is certainly a strong component of the online learning experience. Although a well constructed online course builds a sense of community and provides opportunities for interaction, it also creates other dynamics. We certainly come into contact with ourselves when participating in a class without face to face communication. The cave of the online environment provides the opportunity for isolation and being alone with one's thoughts.
Picture of Mark Wenta
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Mark Wenta - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 7:22 PM
 

Jef, check out my response to Christin and see if you agree.

As to the significance of story telling in hard science, as a teacher of physics, I find my most effective lessons are wrapped around stories. And it makes it more enjoyable for myself just as much as the students.

- Mark in Chippewa Falls

Picture of Jef Halverson
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Jef Halverson - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 11:29 PM
 

Mark,

I agree with you that story telling in the classroom is enjoyabe for the students and instructor. I worked for thirteen years as a government tax auditor and so I had a mine full of great stories to relate when I taught taxes, auditing, and accounting in the classroom. I wish that it transferred better online. Online I don't want to focus the class on myself. Thanks.

Jef @ WI

Picture of Annie Mae Kingston
Re: Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves
by Annie Mae Kingston - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 7:56 PM
 
This reading was very interesting. I guess I never thought about learning environments in the same way as the author. While I was reading I started to think about when I attended a Master Volunteer In Clothing Construction Camp and classes. The campfire would have been the many classes where instructors taught techniques in sewing construction. The watering hole would have been the lobby with a large screen TV (the only television at the camp) where we would gather in the evenings to discuss what was taught during the day while sharing new ideas and techniques for knitting, crocheting and other crafts. All while watching the most popular television program and talking about problems or successes in our respective county programs. During the day, if you wanted some "cave" time, you only had to go outside and walk the trails of the camp, or sit on the porch and rock while you worked on a project. It was one of the greatest teaching/learning experiences I every had, and now I know why. It had all three important components that the author talks about.

Through these e-learning classes, I hope to learn how to translate that experience into successful on line learning.