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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

"Campfires in Cyberspace" by David Thornburg

Thornburg wrote about the three types of learning space which become four:
  • Campfire: "informational spaces where we go to get information from experts" eg storytellers, lecturers, preachers (p 51)
  • Watering hole: "where we go to share what we have learned with our peers." (p 51)
  • Cave: "Caves are conceptual spaces where we go to reflect and elaborate in private what we have learned ... environments filled with the tools of creativity that we need to develop and extend our understanding of what we are learning." (p 51)
  • Life: "Unless your learning is applied, it is sterile." (p 53)
This is a tremendously exciting concept. Schools and universities are organised around the Campfire with some element of Watering Hole but usually the Cavemen are left to fend for themselves. We hear a lot about cooperative learning, especially online, which ramps up the idea of the Watering Hole but mostly Cavemen are left to fend for themselves. As a fully paid up Neanderthal I find this challenging.

It was a shame that the rest of the book didn't really live up to the brilliance of the idea. Mostly, it read like propaganda. I hopes to see a much more carefully constructed argument for the three learning spaces but there was very little evidence offered. It didn't help that one of the few authorities cited was Marshall McLuhan and his pronouncements were treated as gospel and unchallenged.

The main part of the book was exploring how the CWCL model could be implemented in online learning. This must have been impressive in 1996 but things have moved on online in 20 years (Google has come to be!). Nevertheless, there are moments when Thornburg is astonishingly prescient.

A book that is very easy to read with some wonderful ideas but little in the way of evidence. 

May 2016; 155 pages

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