Vygotsky’s voices

The Wits School of Education in conjunction with the Graduate Center recently hosted their Key Word/Key Thinkers programme focusing on the work of Lev Vygotsky. I was fortunate to attend these proceedings and record two of the speakers’ talks Viz. Jill Bradbury on Signs and Subjectivity and Rashad Bagus on Vygotsky on the Zone of Proximal Development using an Olympus Universal Recording device .This relatively unobtrusive device (which I suspect was a welcome relief to the lecturers as it captured their talk without hindering them in the least)provided extremely good sound quality. I recorded the talks , then converted it to MP# using Audacity and was able to easily upload on the KEWL system and embed into my blog as shown below.

Apart from being sufficiently  humbled by both Prof Ian Moll’s challenging presentation, which looked at Vygotsky’s work through a cultural historical theoretical lens paradigm, as well as  the complex discourse that emerged post the speakers presentations (prompting  me to use Google Scholar and immerse myself in the plethora of scholastic works on Vygotsky) ,  I was further encouraged to pursue my imminent research proposal through a Vygotskian lens focusing on the subject of Facebook as a cultural artefact which influences the formation of identity and so assists in learning,  This was inspired by  Dr.  Jill Bradbury’s presentation on Signs and Subjectivity in which she touched on concepts such as Audience and Relationality, the Temporal Self, Development of the Self through the Narrative etc.

Dr. Rashad Bagus talk on the Zone of Proximal Development included a discussion of the Russian words such as obuchenie and lichnost and the difficulty in translating these words rendering a misinterpretation of Vygotsky’s work  by many Western scholars.  Bagus’s concluding talk colluded with that of his colleagues’ earlier ones in sounding the death knell to my leisurely weekends as I realized the enormity and complexity of the task that lay ahead .

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Obscene Routines

Another Sunday morning heavy with years of tension
and Mother superior again solos an interminable promotion
Does her own ‘lassie’ kata –
loyalty ‘chugi’ for the spawn However ‘tactless’ to the pater
SHE is there,mowed down with a heart forlorn …
Dojo pulsating with kin and kicks Punching the Bushido code through colored strips
Rectitude, courage, benevolence
Gi, yuki, Jin
Paradoxical engagements with no
Relevance
If it ain’t pulled in…
Back in the nest, makoto and meiyo are whispers of a distant virtue
That sealed a vow moons ago and and whose absence now hurts you. ….So Rei’s fly’s the coop.
No big budget spender she,
A salaried bourgeosie.
With the bitter taste of a promise deceived that spikes the daily soup.

Twitter In Classrooms

For my Masters research report, I decided to focus on the potential of  Twitter in Higher Education to promote critical thinking skills. Tall order, you may say ..and yes it is proving challenging…especially since the first year class I’m focussing on are first time Tweeters and the course I’ve elected to work with ends in two weeks time!! So not much time to assess real learning as I still need to get students into the practice of tweeting…..That said I’m using this blog to record random thoughts and observances as I  explore this modality of teaching and learning.

The uptake , up until today, has been pretty bleak….This I ascribe to students not  being active Tweeters and thus struggling to get into the tweet of things ( which flies in the face of recent studies suggesting the 21st century learner as being digitally wired and online collaborators of note ). Maybe this is a South African characteristic( after all we only  boast  about 55 000 of Twitter users) and thus  access issues is a big culprit here. Indeed found out that though our University boasts various WIFI hotspots we don’t have this utility in the lecture halls!

Then again maybe it was the way I introduced the study, mentioning that their participation was voluntary and would have no impact on their grades …hence no one tweeted! An issue for exploring student  motivation perhaps?

Today though once we had the backchannel live in the classroom , students started tweeting. Do I ascribe their participation now to the visual feedback in the classroom or to the fact that the lecturer urged them to participate by mentioning that  important questions would be posted ??Mind boggles…. but wish I could have separated the variables to deduce which were the motivating factors! Anyway guess I’ll have to find this out via the questionnaire I intend for them to complete…if they will i.e:)

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