Connected Learning

I love this graphic -for me it illustrates the space young people already inhabit, and as educators we need to be part of it as well – sitting outside the circle whether by choice, technophobia or misplaced beliefs that we don’t need any of this will serve to exaggerate  alienation between students and their educators.

 I’ve been following an online ongoing discussion on connectivism via the Canadian ed-tech researcher, Stephen Downes, ( I really look forward to his weekly updates – some hardcore tech stuff that is way beyond me but loads of good links, info & opinion on open learning; online learning & collaborative learning) and also Jenny Mackness’s blog Jennyconnected . Both of them really probe deeply into understandings  of the nature of collaborative, online learning and PLNs. Via my own PLN (@nick_peachey) on twitter I came across this excellent blogpost (where the graphic above comes from) which digs deeper into the nature of online collaborations and suggests some useful ideas for meaningful engagement and deeper professional learning – interesting to note a mention of Instructional Rounds – the US version of Learning Rounds, as one of the suggested activities, in the context of developing connected learners.

Along a related them,  last night on Twitter the #ukedchat the discussion was focussed on developing independent learners – how do we do it? But more importantly what do we understand by it. As usual the ideas were flying at supersonic speed, but for me a lot of what we were saying came down to two things:

1. most of what we talk about in #ukedchat when it is focussed at classroom level, often comes back to AiFL. i think if this set of principles are to be adopted as such, i.e principles and values and not tricks and strategies, then we’d be a long way to answering many of the questions  put to us as educators today.

2. I firmly believe that independent learning doesn’t mean learning only on your own, and I think this is demonstrated in my PLN,  where ideas are iterated, reiterated, bounced around, challenged and contested -in a shared way ( collaborative? connected? constructivist?). With a nod to Piaget and Vgotsky last night’s discussion  took account of the ego-centric stages of learning (pre-school) and the  ZPD (often when the learner is removed from the learning enviroment) as internal, individual  processes, but the learning we are concerned with, i.e in schools and  classrooms needs to model more of what we do online.

We need to encourage independence of learning and thinking but as John Connell  once pointed out more teachers need to model this, and it’s not easy to teach these values when paradoxically idependendent thought and formal institutions of education make for uneasy bedfellows.

Maybe we need to go back to the beginning, and consider the graphic at the top of this page as a model for independent but connected learning, where the learner is empowered within networks of his or her own construction to collaborate and work towards new understandings – can we call it connected independent learning?

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About catrionao

I'm a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning. I also do online facilitation for various organisations such as SELMAS and the Strategic Leadership Development Programme.
This entry was posted in CPD, innovation, Masters, Perspectives on Learning, Teacher Education and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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