Sunday, 28 September 2008

28. Whose work is it?

I have been reviewing a number of online tools that allow collaborative work which no doubt would be a boon to many learners (and workers) since it would allow remote support. Instead of the teacher/tutor/support worker/colleague needing to sit alongside, they can review and support the work at a distance.

But then I was reminded of a university based dyslexia support tutor who I saw "helping" a history student make a concept map. Unfortunately rather than help their thinking process to identify the structure and content themselves, they told the student exactly what to write. That is, the concept map was a reflection of the knowledge of the tutor rather than that of the student. Consequently they would need the tutor again the next time they had to construct a concept map. The dyslexic student had not been empowered.

These new online collaborative tools offer opportunities, but also have the potential to disempower, as in the example above.

The question is not about cheating, but being fair and empowering. We need to be vigilant to ensure we give (and receive) support that allows the acknowledged "author" to be proud of their own work.

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