UNEARTHING, RESUSCITATING AND GENETICALLY REENGINEERING THE MAMMOTH

NOTE: This is a provisional announcement. This workshop was originally proposed to become an integrated part of the conference program of the 2006 convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. While the proposal was approved by the AECT program planner for the 2006 convention, it can for practical reasons not be accommodated during the regular conference days. We have thus decided to postpone offering the workshop to a future occasion and will equally seek out alternative professional environments that could benefit from facilitating it. Any requests to run the workshop will be welcomed and will receive serious consideration on our part.

Once upon a time, now more than 10 000 years ago, a friendly, useful and colossal animal - the MAMMOTH - roamed the earth. It doesn't exist anymore. It became extinct for reasons we do not yet quite understand. It may have been climate change, hunting, or disease that caused its extinction. The question is still hotly debated. Fortunately, we still see the occasional tusk protrude from under the ice and are sometimes able to unearth one of these colossal animals, getting access to its tissue, allowing us to unravel its genetic code. So, one day we may even be able - with a little reverse-engineering - to resurrect the animal and then reengineer it to live happily, once again, in the present day world.

Once upon a time, a colossal, friendly and useful practice flourished among those interested in the advancement of knowledge. The practice was of great benefit to progress in such fields as the sciences of human learning. It helped develop the eclectic insights into how learning processes can be improved through communications and technology. The practice was called DIALOGUE. The word is capitalized because it was so colossal and also so important. Unfortunately, the practice became extinct. It is not quite known why. Some scholars think it is because of the dramatic changes in the habitat in which it once thrived. Those practicing the advancement of knowledge now often find themselves overburdened by academic bureaucracy and the writing of grant proposals. Besides, they are frequently encouraged to be primarily motivated by requirements for tenure and promotion rather than by the pursuit of knowledge. Fortunately, some of the genetic code that structured DIALOGUE got embedded in other practices, such as the writing and publishing of learned papers and doing presentations at conferences, but DIALOGUE as it used to exist is dead. However, as we still see remnants of DIALOGUE occasionally stick out of such other practices, it may be possible to unearth what once existed, resurrect it, and reengineer it to survive in today's environment. In this workshop we will do precisely that. We will apply our creative and critical faculties to initiating the process of reintroducing and continually improving the practice of sharing, community building and creative collaboration among members of our community of researchers, thinkers and practitioners.

Among other activities, workshop participants will:
  • conduct a critical and in-depth analysis of a selection of examples of activities that have aimed at moving dialogue in learning beyond the traditional boundaries;
  • identify factors that have positively impacted on the nature and participation in processes that generate and strengthen dialogue and innovation in learning;
  • map out factors that continue to constrain progress;
  • examine the critical (potential) role of new technologies on the participation of previously excluded communities of professionals and on changing perceptions as well as practices;
  • examine the implications of these experiences for the management of critical thinking processes in general and for future dialogue in general and among the AECT community in particular.
  • The workshop is being organized and will be facilitated by the Learning Development Institute (LDI) as part of its contribution to the work of the AECT and its membership. LDI has been responsible for a series of presidential dialogue sessions at the International Conventions during the past five years, traces of which can be found at http://www.learndev.org.

    The workshop will be a three-day event held during the AECT's 2006 International Convention in Dallas, TX (October 11-14). On each of the three days, participants will work together for a total of two hours. Each of the two-hour periods will overlap with the lunch break. Participants will pay a small fee, as part of their registration package, to cover the cost of coffee and cookies available during the workshop. Participants may bring their own brownbag lunch. While the lunch is not free, the workshop is, because the work to be done will be shared by all.

    At this stage the organizers seek responses from prospective participants, members and non-members of the AECT, who wish to take part in the workshop.

    If you are interested, please respond to the following items (copy and paste them into an email). Your responses will help the organizers to tailor the workshop to the interests of and possible contributions by the participants.

  • Name:
  • Affiliation:
  • Position:
  • Your one sentence first reaction to the idea of running the workshop:
  • Any suggestions you have concerning the focus of the workshop:
  • Is your interest to participate at this stage definite or conditional? (If conditional, what will it depend on?):
  • Please send your responses to Jan Visser, President of the Learning Development Institute, at jvisser@learndev.org. For practical reasons the number of participants may have to be restricted, in which case your chances of participating will depend on the swiftness of your response.