Connected Learning: The Light and Dark Side

I’m not a blogger. I’m not into tweeting. I suppose you could say for this class I come with a predisposition to the dark side in a way. (I mean if blogging and tweeting are the GEDI way, then I guess, the dislike of tweeting and desire to not blog would be the dark side. Are we allowed to be Sith Lords? I highly doubt that.) The only times I have ever gotten a social networking sites is because a class has required it. I think it comes from being raised with parents who covet privacy. It makes it difficult to want to post parts of my life online for the world to see. School is such a huge part of my life, I suppose, it only feels natural to be protect of what I expose to the online world. It’s different from other areas of my life like my interests outside of school. I feel comfortable going online to explore them or research further, but with school, I’m protective. I think it is this protective nature is what makes me the most resistant to social networking, but it is also what makes me resistant to connected learning practices.

Connective learning presents a different look at how social networking and the online world plays a role in the learning environment. Connected learning allows for students to have access beyond the classroom while the educators are able to have more educational tools. In some ways, it has created more ways for both the students and the educator to stay in contact. We can learn more about each other and learn how to better communicate with one another. However, do these benefits have some consequences?

There is a benefit to having more access to the education. (For example, I’m writing this blog post the night it is due in the comfort of my apartment.) This access allows for us to do things on our time and plan better or at least in theory. It works both ways. Educators and students get to work on their work and check on each other all while continuing on their busy lives. However, I find there are two consequences for this constant access. The first is disorganization and the other is getting away from school.

Through, having more access, I think sometimes both educators and students take this connection for grant. We allow ourselves to think this connection will allow us to put things off or worse, we expect others to be just accessible as the Internet allows us to be. As students, we assume that the assignment or activity can be done later only to find out that Internet isn’t available. Then sometimes, educators assumes that the students can adapt to just as quickly to the changes simply because it only takes one email. Just because we have access to each other and can adapt quickly, doesn’t necessarily mean that we can give up on organization. Connected learning is an extension or addition to education, but it isn’t a replacement for educational practices we already follow.

While connected learning adds to education experience, it does present the inevitable dilemma of whether or not we can unplug from school? When do we turn off the computer and step away? Is it safe to not check our emails every day when it comes to connected learning or could we miss something important? When do we say when?

I think some of the complications of connected learning are the same as traditional education. Maybe there aren’t really any easy answers to these questions because it ultimately leads to the ultimate issue of work/school/life balance and neither connected learning or traditional education can avoid this predicament.

6 thoughts on “Connected Learning: The Light and Dark Side

  1. I definitely can relate to your sentiments regarding connected learning. The benefits we are granted from technology today, which I truly do think can be useful to us in work/school/life, have a bit of a dark side that show how useless and unconstructive they can be as well. If these activities of connected learning actually do contribute to conversation and meaningful dialogue then I am 100% behind it, but I feel I don’t see this enough and rather associate social media platforms just as that, a platform for some people to talk and others to listen. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong though and hopefully this class can help me see where I am wrong.

  2. I like how you mentioned educators and, briefly, the relationship they have with students through connected learning. I wonder if connected learning is harmful for this relationship, as it limits face-to-face interaction and spontaneous dialogue. With an online class, for example, most correspondence occurs via email, where a student will ask a question, the professor will answer it, and that will be that. I personally enjoy the conversations I have with my professors that go “deeper than the syllabus” and allow us to converse about research interests and other topics of higher education. I hope technology will not hinder the formation of these academic relationships as we work to integrate connected learning into our lives more.

    Also, I think your statement “Connected learning is an extension or addition to education, but it isn’t a replacement for educational practices we already follow.” is spot on. We can’t replace traditional education with connected learning, but I believe we could find a happy marriage between the two.

  3. You bring a very interesting point and one that was addressed in class as well. I believe that we are the generation that either fully embraces social media or is terrified by the thought that the NSA is going to steal the thoughts from our very minds if we check in on foursquare (I still don’t totally know what foursquare is, aside from the childhood game). I believe that the generation beneath us, the freshmen if you will, are so incredibly connected that we as future educators HAVE to connect in all the ways that we can. Not so that we can be the ‘cool’ professor who live tweets his grilled cheese for dinner, but so that our students are continually engaged in their education. It takes the time to sit down and set aside time for learning away and makes it more of an experience than a time commitment.

  4. I agree with the “not liking blogging or tweeting” sentiment that you pose here. Although I have a twitter and am slowly gaining twitter confidence, it took me a little while. As for the pros and cons of connected learning and connected life, I also agree. I find myself all too often checking my email on my phone while I should be invested in whatever I’m actually doing (visiting friends and family, hanging out with my fiance, driving, etc.). I see the value of connected learning and blogging, but still have a hard time enjoying the experience.

  5. This is a great post! I find natural to be afraid of new things and adopting them can create even more resistance. I believe that not everything new is worth doing, and that not everything that we currently do is worth conserving. WE should be able to learn and teach how to use connective learning in a structured fashion in pedagogy. We need to learn and teach how set those bounders. We need to gain the abilities to recognize when it is useful to meet in person to discuss a topic and when it is useful to send a tweet, with say a link, to incentive further readings on a given matter. I see how these blogs and discussions we are having, via connective learning, will help us understand this learning culture, so we can implement it in our future jobs. Let’s think about it, we are right now learning connectively, aren’t we?

  6. Your blog posts touches on lot of interesting topics. I liked your conclusion the most where you stated the complications of the school not being in connected learning itself but in creating a life balance given this new technology. I’d like to add here that I believe that this is the case with any new technology or even idea whether related to education or not. Most of the time, it is the usage of something that has negative outcomes but not the technology itself. Connected learning is just a tool that educators and student should use wisely to reach constructive outcomes without replacing the traditional classroom setup.

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