Connectivism, PLN’s and Media Literacies

I wrote an earlier post this week about my growth and learning experience with Twitter. I thought it was a great week to write the post as we had some assigned readings that I thought tie into Twitter quite well. We watched this youtube video on networked students. I highly recommend watching it as it describes a new ‘type’ of student. I believe this ‘type’ of student is going to become a lot more prevalent in our classrooms. We are already seeing students make connections beyond that classroom more than ever before and I believe this will continue to evolve.

As Genna stated in her blog, these networked students won’t eliminate the need for us as teachers but it will change our role as teachers. I think that we will begin to move towards a more supportive and collaborative role with students by working with them to reach their learning outcomes as opposed to try pass information on to students. In this new shift it will be important for us to focus on teaching the media literacies that Howard Rheingold describes in his article: Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies.  I feel the most important literacy he describes for us as teachers to teach these networked students is critical consumption or “crap detection”. If students have the opportunity to reach out and locate information going beyond the classroom, we need to help them determine if it is reliable information or not. I have had many students come to me and tell me that they found an easier way to do a math question for me to turn around and tell them that the easier way won’t always work for every question and show them why. We need to make sure we are working with these students to make meaningful connections in which they can collaborate with others for a bigger reason than the sake of connecting.

Photo Credit: aquopshilton via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: aquopshilton via Compfight cc

Connectivism is a learning process in which information is always flowing. It is important to be able to determine which information is purposeful and meaningful as opposed to not. I feel like Twitter is a great metaphor for connectivism. George Siemens has described the principles of connectivism and I have connected Twitter to a few of them.

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
    • If you’ve been on Twitter you have seen thousands of opinions. Some valid, others maybe not so much, but regardless we can certainly learn from each of them.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
    • On Twitter we use #hashtags to make these connections
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.
    • We have an endless capacity on Twitter.
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
    • By quoting, liking and retweeting others tweets we are able to learn from each other through connecting.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
    • Twitter provides us with up to the minute updates
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.
    • This last point ties in the critical consumption that Howard Rheingold described. With the constant flow of information on Twitter we must decide what is important and what is not. We can decide who to follow and who can follow us. We are able to search for words or hashtags that interest us to learn about the things that we want to.

I have always had a fear of students using youtube or the internet to find answers to questions in math. Mostly because I am worried that I am going to have to go back and fix errors in “simple methods” that they have found on line or reteach them to make the corrections. I like the idea of students being able to use tools and connect with others to find answers so I think it’s important for me to be able to help them with the “crap detection” part of it all. I think a starting point for me will be to encourage students to use resources like Khan Academy and to help them along the way. If anyone has any other high school math websites that you use for additional resources I would love to know what they are. Just as it is important for us to expand our PLN’s I think the same can be said for our students PLN’s or PLE’s. Students are used to making connections online to be friends with someone so we will need to encourage them and help them make connections that go beyond being just friends and move towards educational purposes.


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