George Siemens discusses on his blog (retrieved January 9, 2010) some questions about transparency in online education. This thought is interesting: "When someone decides to share their thoughts and ideas in a transparent manner, they become a teacher to those who are observing." We might conclude that the members of a learning community learn better when each one knows the other's important aspects, besides producing and sharing information.
Because the value of transparent learning became more apparent to him, he encouraged his students to profit of networks, such as blogging, discussions in Moodle, language translations, cohorts in Second Life. As the course facilitators, the teachers were active in sharing their ideas and views, but they "were only two nodes in multi-node network".
Some important thoughts in this post are:
The real value of the course was in fostering connections between learners and concepts.
The varying cognitive architecture of those who are new to a subject and those with significant experience provides support to the value of peer-to-peer learning.
A student who has just started blogging can likely relate better to someone who is still only considering blogging. Or a student who has just mastered key math, physics, or philosophical concepts is better able to relate to students who are still grappling with the concepts.
My argument is this: when we make our learning transparent, we become teachers. Even if we are new to a field and don’t have the confidence to dialogue with experts, we can still provide important learning opportunities to others.
Transparency in expressing our understanding, our frustrations, and our insights helps others who are at a similar stage. Yes, we’ll participate in the broader discussions held by experts in time, but lurking is no excuse to deny others (who are also new to the field) our progressive insights.