The Networked Student
When I watched The Networked Student for Blog Post #7 assignment I tried my hardest to keep an open mind. Last week I received an eye opening comment from Dr. Strange regarding Blog Post #5. At first, my defensive, perfectionist side came out and thought, "Does he know how long it took me to complete this post?", "Why is Dr. Strange calling me out?", "All I did was state my opinion; why is that so bad?" Then I realized, "Taylor, he is helping you!" So with this assignment, I was sure that I wasn't going take Dr. Strange's comment lightly and that I would keep an open mind when completing future assignments. Now, let me say that I have always considered myself open-minded and have always been willing to try new things. However, after receiving Dr. Strange's comment, I realized that I wasn't taking the whole "tech literate" teacher thing seriously. It wasn't that I was afraid of creating a podcast, or publishing something in iBooks, or any of the other tech savvy projects that Dr. Strange assigns, but that I wasn't willing to step out of my comfort zone and take the plunge.
The theory of connectivism, the idea that learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties, is a great idea that enables students to become self-motivated learners while still receiving guidance from a teacher when needed. I think this is so very important, especially in high school grades, because they leave with a better idea of what college will be like. The question, "Why does the networked student even need a teacher?" is, to me, very easy to answer. I think of myself and my classmates in EDM 310 as "networked students", yet without the guidance of Dr. Strange and the assistants, we would all probably be lost. A teacher in a networked class is there for assistance and the extra push that we all need somewhere down the road. I know I have learned more in EDM 310 than I have in any other class and it's because the work is hands-on and we have a teacher who has taught us skills that most of us would have never been knowledgable of before. I am positive that the use of technology in the classroom is inevitable and extremely beneficial to the future of our students.
Even though I think the concept of connectivism and the networked student is a great idea, while I was watching the video I did have one concern that has generally been my concern with several concepts this semester. "How would this work for lower elementary age children?" My dream is to have a classroom full of crayons and glue while teaching children the joys of getting lost in a book and learning how to use math in everyday life. These skills, although simple, are very important. I think kids should be allowed to just be kids and I do not believe that there is anything wrong with that! With that being said, I know that technology is becoming more and more powerful in society and we must keep up with its changes.
Now I think I have answered my own question of "how would the "networked student" concept work for lower elementary age children?". The answer is to modify the material to meet the intellectual capabilities of these students and offer more assistance from the teacher than you would for a high-school aged class while still allowing students to learn on their own. For example, a class blog instead of individual student blogs while still allowing students to post to the class blog if they desire. Another is a class Twitter instead of individual accounts. This would allow students to connect with people from around the world, yet cut out some of the pressure that may come with an individual account. I love the idea of a student-centered class where the students learn from experience and bring prior knowledge into the classroom. I do not think that children are ever to young to become independent learners and creating them to be "networked students" is a great way of guiding in that direction.
A 7th Graders Personal Learning Environment
A PLE, or PLN is something that I can definitely appreciate! I feel so much more peaceful about my work when it is all organized and a PLN keeps documents, websites, and other internet tools all in one spot. I think the 7th grader's PLN in the video is much more complex than mine is, but I'm sure after EDM 310 my PLN will be very effective and something that I plan to utilize throughout my career.
The statement made by the 7th grader, "I really like learning this way because we get more freedom," doesn't necessarily pertain only to a PLN, but to the concept of the "networked student." This statement really made me dig deep and think about the effect of networking on the student more so than on myself. Children desire to have freedom. Most children that have no freedom rebel, so I'm a firm believer in trusting children and allowing them to have freedom. Learning is no different. Allowing students to freely complete their assignments could easily result in more work being completed and possessing better quality. Another reason I appreciate and plan to use PLN's in the future is because they allow teachers to see their students' work all in one spot. Instead of mounds upon mounds of papers to grade, with a PLN papers can be viewed and graded online instead of as a hard copy. I love the PLN for many reasons, these just being a few, and I look forward to using this tool in the future!