Connected learning: Reconciling the old with the new?

Up until the first class, I had never heard of connected learning. Though I wouldn’t consider myself “old” per se, I would consider myself old-fashioned.  I use a computer when I have to, I really don’t care for blogging, and I do not have a Twitter account.  For me, a technologically inept person, the learning curve is just too steep for me to see a lot of reward in it.  However, the introduction of the connected learning concept really reminded me of how important the internet is and how much I take it for granted; especially the accessibility of information.  In the not so distant past, the best way to access academic knowledge was to go to a library.  Now, especially with open access, we can sit at our computers and have almost anything at our fingertips.  And the students of today (and yesterday too) have benefitted greatly from this technology.  But this has also made their learning experiences a little different.  Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher (or professor) provide knowledge on a subject in which they were experienced used to be the best way to gain skills and knowledge in a particular topic.  Now, students have access to knowledge in just as many (arguably more) subject areas at the touch of a button.  So how do we reconcile this in a classroom?  It seems this is where the connected learning comes into play.  As I understand it, the idea is to get students interested and excited to go out and experience knowledge the way in which they would like as opposed to sitting in a classroom being lectured.  I think this is a really interesting concept and could really change the way people learn and get excited about learning.

5 thoughts on “Connected learning: Reconciling the old with the new?”

  1. I find a key point in your blog – “experience knowledge the way in which they would like” and I completely agree with it. I was working at a highly competitive boarding school these past couple of years and while there were teachers who lectured there were some teachers who would come up with elaborate projects that the students would have to research, complete and present. At the end of both years out department head found that there was increased satisfaction and higher enrollment in electives that were being taught with innovative strategies versus ones that involved lectures and research paper assignments. I find that the upcoming generations are open to using different ideas and modes of collecting information. I find that it also raises their self-esteem and confidence when they share something that they found which even their teacher may not have known about. I think that the concept of teaching and learning itself has changed drastically – teaching and learning “with” rather than teaching “at”.

  2. I really like your post. I think you made really good points about information access and how it has changed. I really liked the part where you said that connected learning is designed to get students interested and excited about going out and learning. One part of connected learning that I find particularly interesting is the connection of students’ interests and their peer group with academic achievement. So while students have access to all these different resources and topics online, they may not necessarily have an interest in some of those topics. When I think about my own background in mechanical engineering, I know that I (and many of my peers) did not necessarily have an interest in some of the core classes that I had to take. But the concepts in those classes were important to learn and were important for academic success in my major. So I think an interesting challenge with connected learning is figuring out how we engage students in those topics that they may not initially express an interest in but that are important for academic achievement.

  3. From my understanding of connected learning, your description of it is spot on. After reading your post, it occurred to me that connected learning is a concept that promotes “active learning.” Implementing active learning tactics in the classroom, which requires students to engage in learning activities rather than passively receiving a lecture, is a proven effective pedagogical strategy for promoting learning. It seems to me that connected learning occurs when we can pull these active learning strategies from the classroom and utilize them to pursue a learning objective in which we have personal interest.

  4. You are absolutely right! Connected Learning is a great solution to get people exited about learning. But why not try to implement both formal education and at the same time apply CL. You can use a teacher to guide the student and give them the knowledge to know where to start and then allow CL to let the student implement those knowledges and expand them by themselves.
    One of the things that I like about your post is that you are not relating CL only to technology, like I saw in other posts. CL can be achieved by leaving the classroom and getting experience from the outside world in the way they prefer.

  5. I would question what it is our students would be learning “at the click of a button”? While the internet has no doubt exposed the ease of obtaining information, it has equally come with lies, ideologies, and utter trash. In fact, most polling on how people use the internet tends to draw people away from “learning” towards “trashy” elements of the internet. The internet could thus be dangerous to knowledge in that it feeds into what we already conceive as knowledge. We will find others who only agree with us, and further dehumanize and disassociate from those who do not. It can help us find our circle and neglect other circles. One simply way to counter this, for example, would be to interact less with technology and more with people. Connected learning has always been around, with or without technology. Finding a human mentor, most would agree, is the most productive and stimulating source of knowledge than any form of technology.

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