Hello readers, today I am embarking in my second-ever official blog post. The first one was about how certain pigeons were populating the high buildings in Colombia due to deforestation destroying their natural habit, but that post never flew like I was hoping (blogging Going Backwards), similar to how the pigeons did not fly from my balcony. But eventually they did. So here I am giving it another try (blogging Moving Forward). Thanks to the GEDI (Graduate Education Development Institute) team at VT for “awakening” my blogging desires again.
After the related/not-so-much-related introduction, it is time to move Forward into the core of this post: Networked Learning and the need of enhancing Internet use in today’s education.
In his article “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning“, Gardner Campbell conveys an interesting message regarding higher education in 2008: having a career and being competent at whatever chosen field was being more important than asking questions and understanding the real human capacity. To a certain degree, that same context can still be applied today. Internships, study abroad programs and undergraduate research (where possible) have certainly gained popularity, and allowed undergraduate students to apply the theoretical knowledge outside the classroom. However, the use of the Internet, as a medium for even greater interactions, still appears to be missing after all these years of having a “connected world”.
It is like technology and communication possibilities are advancing (Moving Forward), but the share and spread of knowledge in higher education environments, mainly at the undergraduate level, is somewhat stagnant or even Going Backwards. In multiple occasions assignments written by students are read only by the instructor or a GTA, they are not shared even with their classmates to generate collective improvement, and ultimately end up in recycle or forgotten in an archive. At least in the past, in the times of the ancient Greeks, there was more discussion and collective learning was being developed.
Plenty of people interact today through the web, either by just exchanging emails or by being more active in platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Sharing ideas/experiences through YouTube videos and blogging have become quite popular; some people even live from doing it. Yet, the integration of these tools to higher education is still in its infancy. There are plenty of reasons/excuses for this disconnect between education and high-impact communication tools, to name a few: cybersecurity risks, professors’ teaching preferences, students’ learning possibilities (not all have equal access to these tools, not even today), cellphones being a distraction in the classroom, etc. However, just as the pigeons flew away after the balcony was no longer suitable, due to some drastic/non-lethal aesthetic renovations, the gaps that apparently separate classrooms from the connected digital world can be also overcome with some creative/innovative/collective team work. Something a member of the GEDI community should be prepared for and eager to contribute with.
Like in all journeys, being well prepared is fundamental to potentially be successful, and in this journey of enhancing the “Networked Learning” professors and students, and possibly other stakeholders, must be ready to talk in the right language (human and machine).
Let’s keep learning, let’s keep educating, let’s keep moving forward.
– Carlos F. Mantilla P.