Connectivism: Can We Be a Network?

(This is cross-posted from a comment on Tom Welch’s Lexington1 blog).

I’m so glad that Tom has brought our district’s attention to the learning theory, Connectivism.  I first encountered George Siemens’ work several years ago through my Twitter PLN and have subscribed to his blog, elearnspace,  since then.  As educators we understand the role that making connections plays in learning.  It’s one of the primary strategies used in the teaching of literacy in elementary school, and the activation of prior knowledge (making connections) is an instructional key in every content area.

Dr. Woodward has raised our awareness this year about the fact that we are living in the “Shift Age,” and what important implications this holds for education.  I believe that embracing Connectivism is part of the necessary shift that must take place in our district as we continue developing the Learning Continuum that will guide our thinking about teaching and learning.  Several questions come to mind:

1. How can we encourage and empower our teachers and leadership to actively engage in the development of personal learning networks?
2. How can we be more networked as a district to facilitate personal learning? What can we do to create a district “node”?
3. How can we open up greater opportunities in safe environments within the school context for our students to use networking for learning and sharing?
4. According to Siemens, “The capacity to know is more critical than what is currently known.” With that in mind, how are we going to place a greater emphasis on information literacy, the ability to locate information and critically determine its validity?
5. “Learning has an end goal – namely the increased ability to do something.”  How are we going to shift from being a culture of test-takers to one that values creativity and demonstration of mastery in a wide variety of formats?

Being a contributing member of a network involves some risk-taking.  Tom stressed the importance of building a climate of trust.  The only way for us to build this climate is for many of us to take the risk of participating in the conversation.  Please share your thoughts!  As a district, we need to become a network.

6 thoughts on “Connectivism: Can We Be a Network?

  1. We can talk about it and show everyone, but until they actually experience it by doing they will get it. PLN makes sense in theory but to understand it you have to do it. You are asking all the right questions in your post. You are right you have to keep the conversation going to bring them to the well. Somehow in the conversation, maybe we could start suggesting bloggers to follow (3-4 or so that pushes your thinking).

    Thanks for making me think!

  2. Bill,
    Thanks for your comments! I had the same thought a week ago about blog reading. During staff development sessions before spring break, I got the teachers in my school set up with Google Reader and had them subscribe to 3 blogs. Most of them do Facebook, so I challenged them to try to read something from their Reader at least one night a week while they’re doing FB. We’ll see! If even a handful give it a try, that will be a start. I would be interested in any suggestions you might have about some great blogs for elementary teachers to follow. Now that they have their Readers set up, I think I’m going to try to bundle a few more sites to share with them. Thanks again for the feedback!

  3. That sounds great! I am teaching a grad course to teachers in Horry County called “Writing in the Digital Classtroom.” The main project in the course is “living a life as a blogger.” We started just like you said with Google Reader and subscribing to 3-4 blogs and eventually to each other blogs. This was a daring experience for most of the 22 teachers from 3-12 (mainly HS teachers who teach English). They were charged with reading at least 20 blog post by visiting certain blogs and were asked to pay attention to voice, style, and content before they wrote their first blog post. I used Troy HIcks book “The Digital Writing Workshop” and Sarah Kajder’s books as our text. For many of the 22 who are really taking this course seriously and professionally- it opened up another world to them and they got it.

    Here are the links to our book discussions. I invite you to join the conversation:
    http://voicethread.com/share/987651/
    http://voicethread.com/share/1005580/

  4. We can talk about it and show everyone, but until they actually experience it by doing they will get it. PLN makes sense in theory but to understand it you have to do it.

  5. Positive glad that I navigated in your web page by accident. I’ll be subscribing to your feed in order that I can get the latest updates. Appreciate all of the details right here

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