Network Connetions

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Connectivism

Learning in networks involves each participate becoming a source of material/content or review of the material presented in order to ensure the best product is provided. In contrast to this is the classroom. I am approaching this from the perspective of a 6th grade middle school teacher where generating this type of interaction with students is quite a process. In a traditional classroom teachers are bound to the textbook or course materials bought by the school system and feel an obligation to use the workbooks and consumables. Some just find it more efficient. I have had the opportunity to experience the excessive waste traditional schools generate when they continue the antiquated notion that textbooks hold the answers. I had 120 seventh grade students during one of my teaching assignments and was provided 2 new textbooks per student. One textbook for them to take home and another textbook for the classroom. I inquired as to the cost of one set of books and was blown away by the 80 to 130 dollar response for something that will be replaced four years later. I then went to the head custodian and inquired as to how many boxes of unopened or unused textbooks he either threw away or had to send back once a new textbook was adopted. Again the answer confounded me. The custodian told me a story about having to send back 12 unopened boxes containing an average of 10-15 textbooks. Such a waste when the money spent could have been put into technologies and online resources for open education content and connecting networks.

Networks seem to be more interconnected with participants playing a variety of rolls, as a classroom seems more static and roll defined. Professionals bring a level of expertise and interest to the networks and are eager to provide feedback to the community. Middle school students are a bit more hesitant to participate and be active participants in their classroom. Tons of encouragement and modeling this higher level of content interest help to create an inviting environment however it can only go so far in a traditional setting at this point. Students are so molded into procedures and routines that when presented with a more open learning experience they use technology in the only way they have experience, for play and social connections. Our priority should be to establish a new set of guidelines, which allow students to utilize social media in an educational application. The students will then become the designers of their experience in their pursuit of knowledge.

I also believe that transparent learning throughout the professional social media sites will further the placement of curriculum and guidelines to help ease the furthering of 2.0 educations. Active participation in review of current trends and cognitive research studies can guide this progression and the communication amongst a larger researched based network self generates guidelines based on required needs and functions in interactions much like real world social interactions.

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3 comments on “Network Connetions

  1. jawilly2006 says:

    It would be interesting to see how well our Middle Years students buy in to Web 2.0 and virtual learning communities. I have a son in Grade 5 who has already been a member of a commercial toy virtual community (Webkins) so he would probably be quite comfortable with an educational one.

    • ccshumay says:

      I think so as well. I think as educators we are too afraid to step out and try somethings that may not be a staus quo assignment or approach to content delivery. However, we need to remember at one point and time even the standard ways of teaching today were once viewed with skepticism. If not for those who push the boundaries we may not have even reached where we are today with education.

  2. […] Magnet Middle School for Math, Science and Technology stays on the cutting edge of education with web 2.0 learning. We are afforded an opportunity to push learning further through the creation and use of a content […]

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