Take Your Learning To The Comments


As still somebody who attends university (Ryerson University, incredible value for money by the way…) I’ve made the decision to go into a very mind-off mode while in class. I still talk a lot in class, answer questions and the like, but I do that without any prior thinking about what my answer will be or how smart it sounds. I’m that guy.

Why? Because the value to me as a student for that participation is really minimal. I’ve learned that over time. Participation in class is never about exploring an idea, it’s about letting teachers know if students understand a specific concept. Once students have that understanding teachers then move on to the next topic in the course. It’s a real wash and repeat environment.

If you are going to participate, do it online.

Not to say that intelligent discussion or debate in class is to be avoided, just highly unlikely (Why would you ever debate someone else about online privacy when they don’t know how Cookies work?). Online comment systems on the other hand, are highly under appreciated as learning tools. It’s as if the brightest minds in the industry were writing your test questions for you. No questions about a read-and-regurgitate model or term, but an opportunity to answer questions related to high-level ideas, important trends, or personal opinions (the most important).

How many young people view participating on blogs as an learning tool? Probably not many. The perception is still as blogs as a waste of time, and they therefore don’t see how commenting can be a productive activity.

This is a problem that comes back to the perception of blogs by most young people. It’s hard to even say still how many young people know that there are professionally run blogs dedicated to serious topics and, that they can participate on them. Equally as bad is what people have become use to when leaving comments. Facebook has helping people get used to the idea of leaving comments, but mostly ones that are socially focused, humorous, or NSFW.

Do you find any value in commenting?  Maybe you should take another look.


6 responses to “Take Your Learning To The Comments”

  1. As someone who also attends Ryerson (part-time) I encourage people to participate (in whatever format they prefer) for two main reasons, 1) Simply to earn participation points and 2) Despite not knowing, if one is willing to ask a silly question or provide a silly answer chances are one will have an opportunity to broaden their horizon by getting involved in a healthy discussion. The latter strictly depends on how passionate an individual is about knowing more on the topic or a different viewpoint from fellow classmates.

    Blogs are a great way to learn. The misconception, that is within everyone's minds about relating blogs to a facebook profile or myspace account which are geared primarily towards social chattering, is the primary reason for it not being used as a learning tool. If you look at blogs that talk about leadership, technology, collaboration all great tools, but they do not get the same level of exposure within the educational environment.

    A suggestion would be for professors (at Ryerson or elsewhere) to include Blogs, related to the course material, as part of the "Readings" to a certain level. That may increase students' use of them in their day-to-day usage.

    This really is an interesting topic to explore!

    Cheers!

  2. I wouldn't go so far as taking participation to online only.

    Rather, I'd encourage to EXTEND it online.. anything that works for you that would further engage you and think about your subject matter more critically through taking different perspectives from other peoples' comments.

  3. I think where you are going with this one is that a comment online isn’t just a shot in the dark like a comment in class.

    An online comment is tracked and becomes a part of your portfolio. By interacting and participating on people’s blogs you are developing an online resume of your thoughts and opinions in addition to extending relationships by connecting and participating on thoughts and building up the value of any given blog post sometimes beyond the initial post.

    A blog post doesn’t have to be a statement. Often times I am tempted to rewrite an article with added insight after reading and taking in the comments.

  4. I think where you are going with this one is that a comment online isn't just a shot in the dark like a comment in class.

    An online comment is tracked and becomes a part of your portfolio. By interacting and participating on people's blogs you are developing an online resume of your thoughts and opinions in addition to extending relationships by connecting and participating on thoughts and building up the value of any given blog post sometimes beyond the initial post.

    A blog post doesn't have to be a statement. Often times I am tempted to rewrite an article with added insight after reading and taking in the comments.

    • Totally. I like comments as a tool for learning because good blog authors will provide you with a clear idea or question to respond to, hence the comparison to commenting being almost like a test.

      Speaking of online comments being tracked, just today I've seen some blog traffic come from people Googling "by malcolm bastien" (quotes included). What you could easily infer from that is that people were looking for precisely that, my 'comment portfolio' online.

      I would expect employers commonly do the same when scouting potential hires.

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