A Balanced Serving: networked learning to better equip the student

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.”

Gardner Campbell: Networked Learning as Experiential Learning

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.

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3 Responses to A Balanced Serving: networked learning to better equip the student

  1. Due to the cost of higher education, I agree that online learning offers students the opportunity to afford their education. I also agree that networked learning would be a powerful tool for that. However, at present, it seems hard (but not impossible) to shift the traditional education standards. I feel that us, as future educators, have to make the change. Otherwise, even online courses would not be the solution. In my case, I have never been attracted to online courses. For me, these are kind of boring and sometimes difficult to follow. Why? Becuase they are based on a traditional approach.

  2. Jyotsana says:

    You bring up some good points Abram. Educators need to learn how to facilitate curiosity. The problem is not only higher education settings but also grade school. I cannot remember any class I took as a grade schooler that did not focus on grades, points, homework being done…no one cared whether I actually learned anything. Not everyone is lucky enough to have parents or a family that support learning or have the guts to say that they will study what they want to…right?! So as future educators how can we facilitate the curiosity for learning in our students…?! Hopefully this teaching and learning experience will help all of us formulate that idea.

  3. Rudi says:

    I agree with your thoughts on higher education and the associated costs of gaining that experience. It seems that the price will continue to rise for the foreseeable future unfortunately. In an ideal, the addition of technology will not only reduce the cost of higher education, but eliminate it on a sustainable level. Though, I do question which sections or portions of the overall ‘public’ have access to this information though. Is it really safe to assume that everyone in the public has ready access to these learning opportunities? This is not a question that needs to be answered right now, but just something to consider.

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