Is Connected Learning a Better Approach?

In the first lesson, Dr. Nelson has introduced the concept “connected learning’. We will discuss connected learning in the second lesson in details. After watching the video clip about connected learning, I searched on the internet and found something about connected learning before our formal discussion in class. In Wikipedia, it is defined as “a type of learning that integrates personal interest, peer relationships, and achievement in academic, civic, or career-relevant areas.” The other feature of connected learning is the use of networks and digital media.

However, is connected learning a better approach than traditional learning? Here are my thoughts. As one of classmates said in the first class, the modern technology can not necessarily provide all learners with better learning. I do admit that digital media and connected learning could be efficient in some ways. However, connected learning could also be less efficient in other aspects. Learning of basic science and abstract knowledge requires memorizing definitions, equations, and simple facts. These should not be substituted by any other teaching or learning methods. These are fundamental elements of further learning. As far as I am concerned, connection learning is not the best way to learn in these areas.

One more thing about connected learning is that it produces inequality in education. The students of less resources have less access to connected learning. Forcing these students to adopt the approach of connected learning is, actually, to reinforce this education inequality. Even for those students who have full access to connected learning, they have the right not to choose connected learning. Thus, replacing traditional learning with connected learning without giving all students the right of free choosing their own way to learning is not only inefficient but unfair.

Despite of these two main drawbacks of connected learning had in my mind, connected learning have gain an momentum in modern education. I am look forward to more about connected learning in the next class.

5 thoughts on “Is Connected Learning a Better Approach?”

  1. I disagree with the writer’s opinion that “learning of basic science and abstract knowledge requires memorizing definitions, equations, and simple facts.” Recent trends in the field of education are shifting toward learning based on understanding in which the learners create mental models in their long-term memory. These models cannot be constructed without understanding the definitions and equations.

    Additionally, if we are looking at higher education in the US of A, connected learning can be a rather inexpensive way of providing education to people who cannot afford universities. Websites like Khan Academy and MIT OpenCourseWare are providing free education to a lot of people who cannot afford going to schools.

  2. I believe that the foundation of science is learning how to think. Learning how to think does not require supervision – it requires some guidance, but not helicoptering. I get what you mean by the freedom to choose how to learn. I learn better without supervision and with occasional check ins on progress. Others fair better with lectures and PowerPoint presentations. I think that higher education requires that we teach indiscriminately and offer a variety of options for those who may learn differently.

  3. You have an interesting take in the subject matter. I will tend to disagree in that it creates inequality, I will say it does the contrary. When you have top schools like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, to mentions a few, offering free MOOCs in platforms like Coursera or EdX, anyone with a connection to internet and a desire to learn could benefit from this classes and knowledge. But if the argument is, that tuition is going to keep rising dramatically and scholarships to attend these schools will drop, and MOOCs become the only option to people with fewer resources, this could be an issue. I agree with you that people learn in different ways, and connected learning should not replace traditional learning, but complement it.

  4. Teeing off of one your points, I think one of the reasons I have been able to do well in the US (I’m an international student by the way) is that I learned in high school and college using traditional learning methods, how to understand and how to memorize. These two components are essential to a scholars life, in my opinion. Connected learning may help understand quicker but does it help improve memory? Some may argue that what is learned doesn’t need to be memorized but I know that a good memory is indispensable to high level research seeking to expand the boundaries of current knowledge.

  5. You point out an interesting thought that not all individuals may learn well through digital media. Though in my readings lots of source often make it a point to mention that connected learning does not necessarily have to use digital media, technology, or the Internet, these still appear to be very common themes. This can also be true of connected learning overall. People who are shy, introverted, or socially inexperienced may struggle and not benefit from connected learning. It could be argued that socializing is a necessary occurence and a needed skill, but forcing withdrawn students to interact with others for a grade may not be the most considerate of practices.

    I also have had a similar qualm with how purported connected learning is, but then how it might not be appropriate for standard information. I’ve read authors who seem to put down the process of plain “information transfer” where professors and lectures spout facts or rigid methods, and where students force themselves to learn and memorize. However, there is a degree of this which is required. A discussion of blogs posts of whether 2 + 2 equals 4 or 5 doesn’t seem appropriate, as there isn’t much up for interpretation.

    You mention that these are “fundamental elements” of learning. I like the idea of this. I disagree from you somewhat in that you claim connected learning is “not the best way to learn”. I don’t believe it is a matter of choosing what singular method is best, but rather an amalgamation of different methods. Certain situations call for certain methods at certain times. Connected learning has its benefits and its place, but it should not overshadow other ways of learning, or other important issues or research in pedagogy.

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