I am hoping to enter a career in Academia, so the idea of more connected learning is not only an abstract theory, but a practical tool to better educate students. In the readings this week, the author described the need for new models of learning. Models where learning is “powerful, relevant and engaging”. In some ways these three things have always been the hallmarks of effective learning, I think the renewed emphasis on them reflects the challenges instructors face when trying to overcome student’s conditioning to only learning for a standardized test. The “cram and dump” style of learning is really not learning at all (at least not in any classical meaning of the word).
Besides this systemic conditioning of students in grade school, instructors at the college level also have to contend with all the other technological distractions that are bombarding their classrooms. Students in my class, with only their smart phones, have access to almost all of the media, knowledge and online social networks in the world. That is pretty stiff competition to fight for their attention and focus.
Connected learning really resonated with me as a way that I could leverage this enormous technical ability to overcome the disconnectedness in the classroom. It is a way to connect students to “academics, a learner’s interest, inspiring mentors and peers”.
I recently changed my first written assignment from an essay on the material to a policy paper that will be sent to the student’s representative. This is a direct result of trying to connect the material we’re learning about to the real world in which they live. Because this is my first time doing this I’m not sure how it will work, but here’s hoping for a more connected world!