Networked learning is a concept that I have experienced but never had a formal name for until beginning the first weeks reading for my Contemporary Pedagogy course. As a child of the 80’s, I grew up watching the expanding incorporation of computers and the internet into classrooms and despite some of the challenges that these technologies bring, I firmly believe that they are valuable tools for educators. I personally use many online resources to supplement the material that I learn in the classroom and get different approaches to difficult concepts.
When reading the article by Gardner Campbell about networked learning I really related to one of the first things that he brought up which I have quoted below:
“[…] in 2008, an emphasis on the global economic competitiveness of the United States was framing the value of a college/university degree increasingly in terms of an individual’s potential for lifetime earnings as well as the nation’s human capital available for research, development, and production. Education was becoming more about careers and “competencies” […] and less about inquiry, meaning-making, and a broadly humane view of human capacity.”
This continues to be a problem with how education is advertised and evaluated, especially in the United States. Students choose careers based on potential salaries and universities advertise using the income of their alumni. These are not the motivations that should drive education.
One of the problems is the continually inflating cost of post-secondary education in the US. Students often accumulate tens of thousands of dollars of debt in pursuit of a college degree and must ensure that they will be able to afford their loan payments upon graduating. We need to invest in education and begin to shift the standards used to appraise the value of higher education.
A very powerful tool for societal change is the use of networked learning. Websites, blogs, tweets, etc. are all freely accessible sources of information that can be accessed by the public and can be easier to digest than an academic paper for example. As members of society, the more that we can engage with our communities and encourage healthy discussions about higher education, the more that people will be aware of the issues that challenge the delivery and positive impact of higher education.
Furthermore, incorporating these technologies into the classroom pedagogy better prepares students to utilize these tools in their own professional lives, becoming more successful and influential members of their fields. Online learning also poses a fantastic opportunity to provide a high-quality education to people at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-class methods. It is up to us, as the next generation of educators, to challenge the current paradigm. Education should serve the students not the institutions and be driven by curiosity and not money.
I am excited to be in the classroom with future educators who are learning how to participate in and incorporate networked learning. I know that I will learn a lot through reading the blog posts of my colleagues and participating in discussions throughout this semester and into the future.