Thursday, March 18, 2010

A learner is like...

In the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens states that “Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements- not entirely under the control of the individual (p.5)” After exploring the connectivism theory, I propose that today’s learner is like the ocean. The ocean is a body of water that is impacted, beyond its control, by various aspects in the environment. Winds, waves, tides, gravity… many components of the environment impact the ocean. These elements are constantly changing. As a result, the ocean is never the same from day to day. The ocean ‘goes with the flow’, so to speak. It adapts and changes according to the input of the environmental factors surrounding it. In the same way, today’s learner is like the ocean. To be successful, it is important for the learner to adapt to a complex environment and adjust for the tides of life accordingly. In the video The Changing Nature of Knowledge, Siemens says that “knowledge is really about the distribution that occurs across the entire network.” The network is composed of both the internal mind and the external influences. The video also summarizes that the “network becomes the learning.” By utilizing the entire network, today’s learner, much like the ocean, has the ability to stay ‘current’ and connected.

Video: The Changing Nature of KnowKnowledge

Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Retrieved November 20, 2005.

Practicing Connectivism through Social Networking

In exploring the world of social networking, I came across the Edublogger World site. This site is an amazing resource for presentations and photographs. It also serves as a useful forum to ask other educators for ideas. For my student teaching, I taught geography in a middle school setting. I can see how this connection to other teachers around the world would help make for a more authentic experience in a geography classroom. I could ask for helpful tips, different traditions, and clarification on questions that arise. This networking site would benefit the quality of the geography lessons for my students by enabling me to bring a 'real world' approach into a book oriented classroom.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blogging in the Classroom

When exploring the role of blogging in the classroom, my first thought was to examine the blogs that I have already come into contact with. My best friend had a baby. Every so often, I get update notifications from “Ellie’s Little Blog.” It is an adorable way to communicate her baby’s triumphs and milestones. This could easily be a concept applied to my classroom. I would love to create a blog for our room that could communicate with parents. The blog would serve as another location for announcements. More than that, the blog would be a comprehensive venue to celebrate all of our triumphs and milestones.

During my student teaching, it was made very clear that time was not on my side. Class periods are too short and there is just too much required material to cover. This was frustrating for me because I love a theme. I was working with teaching fractions and math and could have spent an entire week relating fractions to pizza. I think another good use for a blog would be to encourage extended learning. Creating blogs with additional related concept activities for thematic units would be an excellent way to channel all of the creative supports. I love an idea that I came across about having the students blog about their vacations and charting their destinations on a map; what a perfect geography extension! The blog could be utilized at home, during an after school program, or serve as a station in the classroom when a student finished an assignment early.

I loved the section in Lee LeFevers Common Craft video where they say that “anyone is a reporter and publisher” and “everything is news to someone.” This would be my focus of the third way to use a blog in the classroom. I would love to create a blog where students report on acts of “good” that they witness in the community. Sometimes, it is so depressing watching the local and national news. It would be nice to have a vehicle for the students to report on the good things that are happening in the world that could help combat some of the bad.