Connectedness and making your own connections

 

I fell into connections in learning by accident, and it certainly did not follow common themes of connected learning, but maybe it could help…

Long story short, I quit school my sophomore year because I was no closer to finding a major and I couldn’t sleep.  Fast forward 2 years and I’m back in school.  I decided I would try out science.  So I dove in head first.  I ended up taking courses in one or two semesters, that others would take over years.  All of those nit picky prerequisite and weed out courses that so many loathe.  These courses were taught by different departments.  I was taking wildlife management at the same time as introduction to zoology, chemistry, and ecology.  While they are in different departments they were all conceptually linked.  What I was learning in a 400 level course was based directly on what I heard the morning before in my 200 level course.  All of these terms, concepts, and paradigms would play themselves out in problem posing scenarios in my higher level courses.  The connections just came to me.  I had no choice.  Had I taken these courses at the times my normal requirements would have allowed, I would have had huge gaps in theories, years between introduction and application.  So now I have ideas on connecting these things.

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If my professors saw or had a clue to the immersive effects my crowded schedule was having they could guide others to make the same connections.  But how could they?  They were all in different departments.  When prerequisites are set there are assumptions about conceptual proficiency from one course in support of another.  What if you could “level up”?  Say a freshman or sophomore decides to major in Biology.  If all or even some of the professors that teach the courses that support that major could coordinate on a network of connected themes and developments, then that student could discover their way through the connections of these disciplines, level by level.  So much of what is taught in physical sciences relies on real life examples.  Often these examples are drawn from or lead to other disciplines.  Why stop there?  Colleges could have connected theory courses that could have whole incoming classes of students working through their requirements and making discoveries the whole way through.  We always hear of interdisciplinary studies but through large networks of connections and theory students could get so much more out of their schedules.  Connected learning on this scale could provide the ecosystem that would lead students to get more than just the grade, more of the “hows” and “whys” that their studies offer.

4 Responses to “Connectedness and making your own connections”

  • waili9 says:

    I like your story of how you find out your interested major and your point of view of connected learning. I totally agree with you that connected learning should not only limited to other tools (such as internet, social network) that provide you abundant information, it is more important that connected learning serves as a way of interdisciplinary education to let students connect knowledge from other related subjects to enrich themselves. Teachers should also guide students for this kind of connecting and help them transit from what they learned earlier.

  • You totally got a smile from me when you asked “What if you could “level up”?”, i feel the same way about the prerequisites. I like your idea of a wider application of connected learning. Using connected learining in interdisciplinary education will be very useful tool in reaching the students of this generation.

  • dbasu says:

    I like the way you envision connected learning. Yes, Students can learn a lot and understand their courses better if they understand the connections between them, which is often lacking.Interdisciplinary knowledge also help students to appreciate the contribution of other disciplines, open their minds and assist them in learning how interdisciplinary knowledge can be applied, while solving disciplinary problems. This connected learning by connecting disciplinary courses and non-disciplinary courses will be advantageous to students.

  • Zhilei says:

    Very nice topic and extend thinking from in-class to out-class.

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