As a learner, I think of myself connected in the way that I learn and acquire information. If I want to find something out, I google it, or I might post the question online or read a response to a similar question. What is lacking in my pipeline of communication is the two-way flow. I take and enjoy the benefits of accessing what I need but I do not contribute to enhance any kind of PLN.
In the article, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, Siemens mentions that “Nodes that successfully acquire greater profile will be more successful at acquiring additional connections.” I think this statement has value especially in this course and I will put it to the test over the coming months by sharing, linking and contributing more.
As a student of connectivism, it starts with me; my interests, desire for connecting, and learning from who I want and where I want begins with my ability to acquire, search, synthesize and evaluate. The pipe really is more important than the content within. As a networked teacher I see the connections slowly growing and when I watched the video about the networked teacher/connected student I put myself in the role as a teacher and realized how incredibly powerful my students world is right now. I do still ask myself a few questions in reflecting upon this learning theory:
- How do we encourage our students to flourish in this world of networks when our organizations are built on outdated theories?
- As a networked teacher, how do I start encouraging my students to network appropriately?
- What is my role as their teacher in a world where knowledge and learning is at their fingertips without me standing in front of them?
In my class we are inquiring into how the solar system affects Earth. This topic opens up a wide variety of possibilities for using technology but also modeling to students how to find information, build research skills and create some multi-media for their summative assessment. An example of connectivism happened in front of my eyes without me realizing what it was. After parent-teacher interviews last week I was having a conversation with one of my students’ mothers who is from Korea ( this will be important later). Her son, a natural inquirer, often comes to school with information that he has learned on his own. He is building connections in his own 9 year old way! I mentioned to her that I wanted to connect the students with experts in the field (I had already mentioned this to the students earlier that morning). I had some of my own ideas like a field trip to the Science Museum, skyping with an astronaut (but HOW?) etc…
My student and his mother, that evening, made some phone calls, sent some emails and came to school the next day with the contact of someone in the field of Space Research in Korea! Korea Aerospace Research Institute has agreed to Skype in with our class and share some information and field questions from the students. Without knowing what to call it, I realize how he is networking, learning on his own without me and contributing to content in class that we might call “knowledge”. He realizes that he doesn’t need to learn and acquire information from just me (Thank goodness!). I thought it was pretty cool.
As I grow in a PLN, learn from others, reflect and share on the process and build skills to encourage my students on the same journey, how is this going to impact them in the future? What will their learning look like in 5 years? I hope due to the small invested time I have put into “messing around”, their journey they will be further along in acquiring skills to be the 21C learners that can effect change in the world.
Has anyone else taught connected students that have gone out on their own to contribute to the learning in the classroom?