Interest-powered. Interests power the drive to acquire knowledge and expertise. Research shows that learners who are interested in what they are learning, achieve higher order learning outcomes. Connected learning does not just rely on the innate interests of the individual learner, but views interests and passions as something to be actively developed in the context of personalized learning pathways that allow for specialized and diverse identities and interests.
Peer-supported. Learning in the context of peer interaction is engaging and participatory. Research shows that among friends and peers, young people fluidly contribute, share, and give feedback to one another, producing powerful learning. Connected learning research demonstrates that peer learning need not be peer-isolated. In the context of interest-driven activity, adult participation is welcomed by young people. Although expertise and roles in peer learning can differ based on age and experience, everyone gives feedback to one another and can contribute and share their knowledge and views.
Academically oriented. Educational institutions are centered on the principle that intellectual growth thrives when learning is directed towards academic achievement and excellence. Connected learning recognizes the importance of academic success for intellectual growth and as an avenue towards economic and political opportunity. Peer culture and interest-driven activity needs to be connected to academic subjects, institutions, and credentials for diverse young people to realize these opportunities. Connected learning mines and translates popular peer culture and community-based knowledge for academic relevance.
Shared purpose. Connected learning environments are populated with adults and peers who share interests and are contributing to a common purpose. Today’s social media and web-based communities provide exceptional opportunities for learners, parents, caring adults, teachers, and peers in diverse and specialized areas of interest to engage in shared projects and inquiry. Cross-generational learning and connection thrives when centered on common interests and goals.
Production-centered. Connected learning environments are designed around production, providing tools and opportunities for learners to produce, circulate, curate, and comment on media. Learning that comes from actively creating, making, producing, experimenting, remixing, decoding, and designing, fosters skills and dispositions for lifelong learning and productive contributions to today’s rapidly changing work and political conditions.
Openly networked. Connected learning environments are designed around networks that link together institutions and groups across various sectors, including popular culture, educational institutions, home, and interest communities. Learning resources, tools, and materials are abundant, accessible and visible across these settings and available through open, networked platforms and public-interest policies that protect our collective rights to circulate and access knowledge and culture. Learning is most resilient when it is linked and reinforced across settings of home, school, peer culture and community.
Below is an infographic made by Dachis Group that highlights these essential components of connected learning. What if every learning environment was centered around these principles?
Well, yesterday was Digital Learning Day. By all accounts, it was a busy day across the country. Lots of conversation and high-profile events and demonstrations of students doing cool stuff with technology…
Should every school day be Digital Learning Day? Nope. We still need down time from these electronic and virtual spaces of ours, times when we experience the joy of human connection, nature, solitude, reflection (and all of those other things that people say I should be experiencing!). But, nonetheless, we definitely need ‘more digital, more often’ in most of our primarily-analog schools, so it was good to have a nationwide day that reminds us of the power of digital learning.
Here are a few things that caught my eye from the unrelenting stream of educational technology news yesterday:
Apparently some students got to testify before the Ohio House of Representatives about digital learning. I love to see tweets like this one or this one. In contrast, I’m not so enthused about tweets like this one (from a district in Alabama).
Here are two commercials for the iPad. The first (and newer) one highlights the power of iPad apps to facilitate learning. I like the second one because it emphasizes the lines that are blurring as these technologies (iPad or otherwise) and their accompanying affordances take root in our daily lives.
The Did You Know? (Shift Happens) videos have been seen by at least 40 million people online and perhaps that many again during face-to-face conferences, workshops, etc. This week saw the release of the latest version, this one focused on the state of Iowa. Titled Iowa, Did You Know?, the video is aimed at Iowa policymakers, citizens, and educators and is intended to help them feel a greater sense of urgency when it comes to changing our schools. Right now there’s a fair amount of complacency; the average Iowan isn’t coming to his or her school board or politician saying, “Hey, why aren’t you preparing my kids for this digital, global world we now live in?!”
Take a look at the video and see what you think. Even if you don’t live in Iowa, I think you’ll find it quite pertinent to your educational context too. More thoughts and resources after the video…
We are hopeful that the video will be shown to groups all over the state. It comes with a facilitator’s guide to help spark conversation as well as PDF versions of each slide. The idea is that any local group – school, Rotary club, senior citizens’ center, community group, or book club (or even just a small bunch of neighbors) – can convene for 30–60 minutes, show the video, and then start talking and acting. Additional resources and information are available at the Iowa Future web site to help these groups. We need a groundswell of Iowans to start advocating for 21st, not 19th, century schools.
Leadership Day 2011
In addition to announcing Iowa, Did You Know?, this post also is going to serve as my Leadership Day 2011 contribution. If our schools are going to ‘shift’ and prepare students for the next (rather than the last) half century, school leaders are going to have to be much more proactive about engaging with parents, community members, and policymakers. Whether it’s pulling snippets from this blog or Mind Dump and mentioning them at every possible gathering, showing videos like this one and inviting discussion and action, or finding ways to regularly and visibly highlight innovative student and teacher uses of higher-order thinking skills and digital technologies, principals and superintendents can’t just focus on what occurs within their school systems. We MUST engage the public and we MUST engage the people who make policy at the state and federal levels. Right now we’re not doing this nearly as much as we should be. For example, we debuted Iowa, Did You Know? at the School Administrators of Iowa conference earlier this week. I heard lots of comments afterward from administrators about how excited they were to show the video to their staffs. But nary a single one said that he or she was excited to use it to help spark needed conversations with parents, citizens, or legislators. If we don’t have these latter conversations too, we’ll continue to run into the external mindset and funding/policy constraints that surround and hinder what we do, regardless of how innovative we are internally.
Does every state need a video like Iowa, Did You Know? Probably. If not a video, then a report or a recorded speech or something that galvanizes citizens to start putting pressure on school boards and lawmakers to do something DIFFERENT when it comes to learning, teaching, and schooling. Right now most of the discussion regarding educational reform is simply tweaking what we’ve always done, trying to make it a bit better or more intense. Given the transformational impacts of digital technologies on learning, communication, the global economy, our jobs, entertainment, and just about every other area of life we can think of, tweaking just doesn’t cut it.
It is with great appreciation that I thank:
Troyce Fisher, School Administrators of Iowa, and everyone else involved with the Iowa Future initiative for being so patient with me as I worked to get this done, for insisting that the video have an encouraging ending, and for having the original vision for a visibility initiative to reach Iowa citizens and legislators, not just educators.
XPLANE, who now has done the graphics on 3 of the 5 ‘official’ versions of Did You Know? and who came through yet again despite a very tight timeline. I can’t emphasize enough how creative the folks there are and how wonderful they are to work with. I have absolutely no hesitation recommending them for any project, any time. They are truly amazing and gifted.
All of the wonderful Iowans, educators or otherwise, who will help spread this video across the state and maximize its impact. I’m thanking you all in advance; it’s up to us to make these conversations happen!
Karl Fisch, who started the whole Did You Know? phenomenon and has graciously included me on every step along the way.
It’s 2011. If you’re invisible to the world, aren’t you also irrelevant to the world?
I use the Rapportive plugin for Gmail. It’s a pretty powerful little add-on that gives me enhanced profile information for the people that send me e-mail by tapping into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Flickr, my Google contacts, and more. For example, if you used Rapportive, here’s what you’d see on the right side of your screen if I e-mailed you.
You can see from my profile that I am richly connected and using a variety of social media tools. There are many ways to intersect with me, professionally and/or personally.
Although it’s happening less frequently every day, I still receive a great number of e-mails from people whose Rapportive profile looks like this:
This doesn’t mean that they lack a Rapportive profile. It means that they have no presence on any social networks. No Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn, no Flickr, no etc. Nothing.
I wonder about these people. They’re not just missing out. They’re missing out. In a world that’s hyperconnected and hypernetworked, these people are off the grid. Whatever ideas they have, whatever service they’re offering, whatever charity for which they’re trying to raise money, whatever product they’re selling – whatever they’re doing is invisible to anyone outside their local geography.
In 2011, it seems to me that these people are largely irrelevant to anyone other than their local community. And though it might be fine for many to make that individual choice, that decision should stem from intention rather than ignorance. I also believe that we should be doing better by our schoolchildren. They may decide to go off the grid when they’re older, but in the meantime we should be doing our damnedest as educators to teach them how to be networked and connected in positive, productive ways because in the future almost all of them will want their products or services or charities or ideas to have some traction.
If this were a review, I’d give Rapportive 4 highlighters for being a solid bit of software that does what it intends quite well.
But I’d give the person above 0 highlighters because I don’t know about her. And neither do you.
With rare exceptions, schools currently treat the digital revolution as if it never happened. Computers, more often than not, still sit in dedicated rooms, accessible only with adult supervision. Laptops, when they are used at all in classrooms, are frequently employed as electronic worksheets, digital typewriters, and presentation producers, rather than as extensions of students’ access to knowledge. When students do use technology to extend the reach of their learning, they typically do so by visiting predigested information sources and cutting and pasting information into predetermined, teacher-driven formats. “Social networking” among students is treated as a subversive activity engaged in by kids who are up to no good, and certainly not as a promising point of entry to anything that might be called “learning.”
When students step out the door of the institution called school today, they step into a learning environment that is organized in ways radically different from how it once was. It’s a world in which access to knowledge is relatively easy and seamless; in which one is free to follow a line of inquiry wherever it takes one, without the direction and control of someone called a teacher; and, in which, with a little practice, most people can quickly build a network of learners around just about any body of knowledge and interests, unconstrained by the limits of geography, institutions, and time zones. If you were a healthy, self-actualizing young person, in which of these environments would you choose to spend most of your time?
The basic problem with this scenario, however, is this: The more accessible learning becomes through unmediated relationships and broad-based social networks, the less clear it is why schools, and the people who work in them, should have such a large claim on the lives of children and young adults, and the more the noneducational functions of schooling come to the fore.
what would happen if we simply opened the doors and let the students go; if we let them walk out of the dim light of the overhead projector into the sunlight; if we let them decide how, or whether, to engage this monolith? Would it be so terrible? Could it be worse than what they are currently experiencing? Would adults look at young people differently if they had to confront their children on the street, rather than locking them away in institutions? Would it force us to say more explicitly what a humane and healthy learning environment might look like? Should discussions of the future of school reform be less about the pet ideas of professional reformers and more about what we’re doing to young people in the institution called school?
We know that teens text a LOT: the average teenager sends 3,339 texts a month. Many adults are worried about the potential negative impacts upon youth of all of this texting. Common concerns cited include lack of face-to-face interpersonal skills, repetitive stress injuries, and an inability to focus.
Like others, I think the texting phenomenon is worth paying attention to and studying. But I’m not sure this recent article has it quite right. Here’s an excerpt:
Dr. Scott Frank, director of the Master of Public Health Program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, has seen the effects of all that late-night texting. In a 2009 study, he found that “hyper-texting’’ teens - those who texted 120 times or more on an average school day - were more than 60 percent more likely to sleep less than seven hours per night and to doze off in class than those who were not hyper-texters.
“These teens were also more than 60 percent more likely to miss more school because of illness and to have poor academic performance,’’ he wrote in an e-mail. “Teens were also 25 percent more likely to report high levels of stress and 40 percent more likely to have symptoms of depression.’’
The way the article reads, the teens’ stress and depression and illness-related truancy and poor academic performance all seem to stem from the act of ‘hyper-texting.’ But this may be a classic case of correlation versus causation. In other words, perhaps teens that already are stressed, depressed, truant, and/or doing poorly in school are turning to their phones and their friends for validation and support more often than other teens do. As the article itself notes:
But many teens said feeling popular and connected to friends is more important than a good night’s rest.
“When I’m texting someone I don’t feel alone,’’ said A.J. Shaughnessy, a ninth-grader at Boston College High School. “When you don’t have your phone, you feel incomplete.’’
Michael Joyce, 16, a sophomore at the school, said the sound of his phone vibrating on his night table makes him happy. “Oh, good,’’ he thinks as he’s awakened, “someone’s texting me. Maybe someone needs me.’’
Sometimes teens answer late-night calls and messages less out of excitement than fear. In focus groups convened by the Pew Research Center, some teens related stories of friends or acquaintances who became angry or insulted when text messages or phone calls weren’t immediately returned. “As a result, many teens we heard from said they feel obligated to return texts and calls as quickly as possible, to avoid such tensions and misunderstandings,’’ the report said.
It’s hard for me to read that second excerpt and not believe that the underlying root problems are something other (and bigger) than hypertexting.
I think we have to be careful about what we infer and what causal directions we imply. Texting isn’t going away anytime soon. Whatever negative consequences accompany frequent texting, it’s far better for us to be accurately informed than it is to draw mistaken conclusions.
respond when children’s digital interactions turn negative.
There are no easy answers here, but the solution is not for us or our children to withdraw. Withdrawing doesn’t change the behavior; it just removes our ability to know about it. Instead, we must engage with our children and be actively involved in these interactions – not in a behind-their-back monitoring sense but in a caring, responsible adult sense – so that we can help them navigate these new interaction spaces in which we all now live.
I’m going to recommend this article to every parent I know (yes, it’s that good), and I suggest you do the same. I’m also going to have my 12-year-old daughter read it and then we’re going to talk about it. Check it out. This is important stuff.
Given the incredible amount of media that our students consume, is your school appropriately stressing media literacy with its students? What is your school system doing to educate parents about media literacy issues?