Monday, November 2, 2009

Thoughts on networked learning...

The human network is, as far as I can tell, people connecting through the use of technology and all the ways that they can and do connect using technology. The networked student uses technology to connect to this human network for the purpose of education. I feel like this is a convoluted way to describe it, so I'll use an example: a connected student will, instead of going to the library and making a poster for a project using information they get there and through talking to classmates, use the internet to do research on a project topic, and use delicious or Zotero to organize pages they find. They might go to blogs of people who are specialists on the topic and use an RSS reader each day to glance over the latest information about the topic on all the various blogs on one page. They might email a blogger or other specialist and use Skype to interview them and use that as part of the project...and so on. It sounds like being a networked student is really involved, doesn't it?

Digital literacy is crucial to the networked student. You have to be able to use all of these websites and resources to be networked. Since the student is networked, they construct their own knowledge through various resources and from multiple perspectives. As such, the teacher of a networked student isn't the vessel through which knowledge is dispersed, but more of a guide for what to do with all of this information and how to actually build their network effectively.

Beth Still is a teacher in Nebraska I follow on Twitter, and every five minutes she tweets about some project she's doing with her class and what she's working on with other teachers all over the country. She often tweets asking members of her network to interact with her students in class. It's great, but she's a bit intimidating, to be honest! This is her website. I think she's a great example of networked teaching.

I think it's great that technology allows students to control so much of their learning. I am really encouraging of students building their own network and my helping them figure out how to get the information and what to do with all of it. I don't want students to look for me for all the answers, because I don't have them. No one does. But I'm more than happy to help my future students figure out how to find good answers. I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off of teachers and helps them be more like collaborators with their students. Do you all feel that sense of relief with being a "connected" teacher, or is it just me?

1 comment:

  1. I can't say that I am relieved, because although I am aware of the Human Network, I have not yet been able to integrate it into the classroom. I mean we are becoming aware of the tools we can use to build a virtual classroom, but it will take hard work to build a classroom network. Searching through class blogs and wikis, I see that there are a lot of incorrect or misuses of them. For example, how many class blogs have you seen that have only one or two posts that are many months old? If anything, I feel anxious about networking because I want to be able to use it successfully, side by side with the curriculum.