postheadericon Connected learning …?

I do not have extensive teaching experience, I am not an active user of social media beyond Facebook, and have a negative view of blogs.

I do not agree with the notion that if you throw enough technology at something, whatever problems or issues one experiences magically go away. Your baby’s crying? Give it a smartphone. Your community’s not politically engaged? Set up a government-sponsored message board that costs millions of tax dollars to create and maintain. Your kid’s failing third grade? Give it an iPad and force its teacher to dress up as Iron Man and sing multiplication tables backward while said kid trolls YouTube for video game advice. It’s a teacher’s job to entertain its students, right? Right?!?

Connected learning – the video we watched in class with the stick-figured students, comes with the assumption that technology is inherently good, and that integrating technology into the learning process is also inherently good. Techno-optimistic. Who needs a teacher when you have Wikipedia? Who needs human contact when you have twitter or instagram? A photo of a person and the written equivalent of a sound byte is a suitable surrogate.  Why bother going to class when you can post all your questions to an online forum, and expect whomever’s on the other end to thoroughly research the answer before crafting a careful and calculated, enthusiastically optimistic response?

Connecting students to material through technology is useful, I will not argue against that. Integrating technology and alternative methods to the traditional “sage/stage” learning environment may enhance the learning experience for some students. However, replacing an interactive, specialized classroom with a knowledgeable instructor and students that act as co-learners and support with a blog and a message board does not seem adequate to me. Turning education into Facebook is not a good idea.


3 Responses to “Connected learning …?”

  • Betsy Haugh:

    I too prefer the classroom setting that features a trained, knowledgable instructor and students willing to communicate and interact. Too often, online learning becomes more of a check list – watch this video, answer these questions, respond to these blog prompts, post X number of comments, etc. (And are you really watching that video, or is it just playing in the background?) There is no complete educational experience in a purely-online setting.

    You mentioned being okay with connecting students to material through technology, and I also think this is useful. I personally will download article readings to an app on my iPad and highlight them there rather than printing them all off, but I still prefer to take notes by hand and avoid the temptations of technology during class time.

  • Darth Kspooner:

    My fellow Sith Lord,

    Infoentertainment is the future of the Galactic Republic which is why we need a strong Galactic Empire! Search your feelings, you know this to be true! Too many individuals are reliant on modern technologies to solve their problems, they forget the old ways hold their values. There are uses to knowing how to solve math problem without a calculator or being able to write legibly instead of typing on a keyboard. Learning is not always about being entertained or technologically advanced.

    Sometimes, there is no technological advancement or a magic tricks that can change how to learn something. Individuals just have to sit down listen and study without the bells and whistles. This may be one of the challenges of connected learning: teaching students that you can be as connected as possible with every innovated piece of technology, but that does not take the place of learning. The effort still has to be made and it isn’t always the responsibility of the instructor to make it the most entertaining lesson. Connected learning is not a replacement for hands-on learning or for experience.

    Connected learning is a tool or a method, but it isn’t the “educational magic pill.” I think individuals are so busy trying to find short-cuts or the easy route, they forget that education for a very long time and there are some parts of education that don’t need to be replaced. They need to be enhanced and appreciated. That’s what connected learning should provide, not remove.

  • Krystalyn Morton:

    Hello Aaron,

    I definitely agree with what you are saying about technology in the classroom and the idea that a knowledgeable, well-invested instructor can tackle many of these classroom issues. Unfortunately, I think that turning to technology is often an easy way out, not only in academic settings, but in everyday life.

    We are all about trying to increase our daily productivity by reducing the amount of effort to tackle various tasks. This is where technology comes into play. I find it ironic how technology is often presented in a way as ‘here is something to make life easier so that you can get more done’, which also means that expectations of daily accomplishment are steadily increasing.

    In regards to connected learning in the classroom, I do think that there are many benefits to its use. I just wonder sometimes whether the effort needed to setup and maintain these technologies in the classroom are really worth the result of the overall experience. I will always be impartial to that face to face interaction, because I am a firm believe that actions and body language definitely go a long way in learning.

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