Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Connected Learner in a PLE

We are all learners. We are connected to each other and innovative learning experiences that we never thought were possible before. It doesn't matter how old you are, where you live, and what you want to learn, you can connect to people, resources, and courses so you, the learner, can learn what you want when you want to. This means what we call "school" is different. Teachers and learners are different. Roles change. This is a huge culture shift. 

The information from our chart Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization chart is about being a Connected Learner in a Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

  • starts with the learner
  • connects with interests, passions, and aspirations
  • learners actively participate in the design of their learning
  • learners have a voice and choice on what they learn
  • different objectives for each learner
  • learner selects appropriate technology and resources to support their learning
  • learners build a network of peers, teachers, and others to guide and support their learning
  • competency-based models where the learner demonstrates mastery
  • assessment AS learning
  • teachers develop capacity to create independent learners who set goals, monitor progress, and reflect on learning

So what does it mean to be a Connected Learner in a PLE? We are more networked now at a younger age than we have ever been before.  [Graphs from Common Sense Media]

Even though the numbers of younger children using technology is growing, most of the use is around games and play. There's nothing wrong with that because we do learn from play. The idea is not to just be a Connected Learner, but an Engaged Learner. Younger children may be engaged in play using these tools but they don't necessarily support understanding or make any kind of meaning out of what they are doing. When kids are playing, they are in the discovery mode and there is little or no self-regulation happening. Children need to develop a set of cognitive skills so they can think deeper about their learning.

“We are seeing a growing gap between in-school and out-of-school learning as more and more of young people’s learning, attention, and access to information is happening outside of classrooms and through online networks and exchanges,” said Mimi Ito, cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in youth and technology, is one of the principal investigators in the new Connected Learning Research Network, funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative. “That’s the disturbing news. The good news is that new technology also hands us opportunities for bringing young people, educators, and parents together in cross-generational learning driven by shared interests and goals.”

“Connected learning represents a path forward,” Connie Yowell, Director of Education for U.S. programs for the MacArthur Foundation said. “It’s learning that is socially rich and interest-fueled -- in other words, it’s based on the kind of learning that decades of research shows is the most powerful, most effective. And connected learning is oriented towards cultivating educational and economic opportunity for all young people.” [New models of Connected Learning]

At the core of Connected Learning are three Values:
  • Equity
  • Full Participation
  • Social connection
These values are based on the three Learning Principles:
  • Interest-powered
  • Peer-supported 
  • Academically oriented
Connected Learning builds on the three Design Principles:
  • Shared purpose
  • Production-centered
  • Openly networked

This infographic illustrates this new model of Connected Learning:

The video below provides a clear explanation about being aware that when we start with outcomes we are starting with the wrong questions. We need to start with the learners so they have the experiences they want to have, that they are engaged and motivated so they want to learn, and want to learn how to learn.

The Essence of Connected Learning from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

As proponents for the use of technology, we also realize that the noise from myriad digital distractions threatens the cognitive complexity of learning. Learners need to have the skills to know how to self-regulate the use of these tools.

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