Connectivism and the Future of Education.

Just like Ashley Dew I have been thinking a lot this past week about what the future of education looks like. I know that technology already plays a part in education, but we still have a long ways to go before we can reach our full potential. We know that technology has made it possible to do things more efficiently than we did in the past. All teachers use technology to do things like photocopying, projecting presentations and updating report cards. But for some teachers – including myself…yes I am guilty – our use of technology stops there. We might use the laptops in class from time to time and we feel good that we are integrating technology in our classroom, but are we really integrating technology into our classroom when we use laptops or iPads? We need to use technology with a purpose. Technology offers us so much more than what most of us are doing with it and the future of education will rely heavily on the use of technology.

One of the biggest advantages of technology is the ability to connect with one another. Connectivism is a fairly new learning theory that will become more important as we continue to move through the digital age. It is based on the idea that learning occurs through networks by making connections. George Siemens discusses connectivism and open social environments in this video. He asks you to think about how irrelevant structured learning is and goes on to discuss why. We don’t really know our students and we decide what they will learn without thinking about what is meaningful or helpful to them. In a typical course a teacher will pick and choose what they want to teach and how they want to teach it. He argues that students don’t understand concepts, they merely memorize them. In an open course as opposed to a structured course the students play a more active role and can learn by connecting with others in the course or even outside the course.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) are designed to learn through making connections with others. Before this week I had never heard of a MOOC. If you’re like me and have never hear of MOOCs before check out this video.

I think that it would be interesting to participate in a MOOC, but I don’t know if we are ready for our students to be left to learning through MOOCs. Maybe it is because I primarily teach high school math I find it very difficult to imagine a course that is highly dependant on learning through connecting with others. I do believe it is crucial for students to make connections with the real world and see how the math they are learning is related and important in that world. There are some classes that seem to need a little more structure than other courses. A MOOC might be a way for students to go beyond the information they are getting in class and further explore a topic that they are interested in. As Henry Jenkins explains there are many students who are participating in online networks and making connections outside of school simply because they are really interested in something. The reason people make youtube videos for example is because they are very interested in whatever they are making videos about. MOOCs might be another way for students to network with others who have similar interests allowing them to learn more through connections.

I came across this video while exploring connectivism. It describes what a networked student looks like as well as the role a teacher plays in this networked students life.

With networked students, teachers work more as a facilitator. Teachers helps students find connections and information but it is the student who is directing their learning. I am torn by the role of a teacher as described in the video. I feel as though our role as teachers in the 21st century will change quite a bit and we will become more of a facilitator in some respects, but I also feel that there is a lot of information that students MUST learn such as reading, writing and math skills. Is it possible for students to learn these skills on their own? With all of the information on the internet today maybe it is? But with so much information on the internet how can we be sure that the information our students are accessing is accurate?

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

I have really been struggling to figure out if education will be able to keep up with technology. Can schools keep up with technology? Technology changes at such a rapid rate that it almost seems impossible to keep up. I feel extremely overwhelmed trying to keep up as it takes time to learn new skills. I struggle when sifting through my twitter feed after not reading it for a few days. I scroll through them quite quickly but feel panicked that maybe I am missing something really valuable. I watch youtube videos or read articles for class and wonder what else is out there that I might find beneficial for class. How can we possibly keep up when everything is changing so quickly? Do our curriculums need to focus more on technology and 21st century skills than traditional skills? Do we need support teachers in the classroom whose job it would be to focus on integrating technology into each classroom? I think that would be a great idea, but I know that financially school systems cannot support that. School systems struggle enough to provide technology devices in their school and have wireless internet that will support all of the devices. I like to think that schools will keep up but it already feels like we are so far behind and not everyone is on the same page. I know that my opinions have changed in regards to technology and I feel like I will be a big advocate for integrating technology into my classroom and school when I return to work. I feel the same way as Jeannine and I am glad that I was able to take this class near the start of my M.Ed program because I think it will serve me well in the future.

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2 thoughts on “Connectivism and the Future of Education.

  1. Pingback: The Impact of Technology in the 21st Century | GLORIA ULUQSI'S BLOG

  2. Pingback: So Many Questions…. | Justine Stephanson's Blog

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