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The group dynamic in social learning spaces - how do you know who to listen to?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 17:17

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Fig 1. Daniel Kahneman

People go with the flow and chose the easy option of agreeing when they are:

  • working on something else that requires a lot of effort
  • in a good mood
  • low on a scale of depression
  • a knowledgeable novice in the subject rather than a true expert
  • powerful, or are made to feel powerful.

From Daniel Kahneman (2011) 'Thinking, fast and slow'. pp134

This gives you pause to wonder about the complexity of what takes place in a social learning environment where people are offering their ideas. You want to hope that falsehoods will be knocked down while truths will be agreed upon, however, depending on the people and how the discussion is moderated you could theoretically end up with the opposite going on. Not only should students in such spaces be advised on how to behave in order to get the 'right' learning outcomes from the experience, but it is vital that the subject matter expect/moderator plays their role scrupulously.

Questions:

  • Is the learner who is an unhappy, powerless expert likely to offer the more objective response?
  • Is a grumpy, depressed subject matter expert who may run a cold class of greater value as an educator than the new college kid who is full of ideas and bounces around like Tigger?
  • And if the happy, succesful novice is heard more often and supported by the community how do you make room to hear from the less confident, sad geek?

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