As I’ve learned about what it means to have a connected learning classroom, one of the mainstays of the conversation is that teachers work to break down the teacher/student binary where teachers are the authority in their student’s learning. This breakdown doesn’t mean that the teacher disappears as an authority, but rather that they become co-contributers to the process. A metaphor that I’ve come to understand, by way of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, is that of a producer for a rap-artist. A producer helps mix the music that will serve as the backdrop for the lyrics, and thus plays an integral in changing a rap’s lyrics from what is essentially a spoken-word poem, to something that is recognizable as a rap.
One of the requirements of this process is the opportunity to “Newb it up” as Janelle Bence describes in one experience she had with creating video-games in her classroom. This comes from the willingness of the teacher to step out of their comfort zone, and experience an unfamiliar genre as I experienced in my Unfamiliar Genre Project. When teachers step out of their comfort zone, they get to learn with their students, leveling the teacher/student binary and inviting students to actively participate in the creation of content and the learning experience as described in the tenets of connected learning.
Once students are actively involved in the process of learning and creating, it is important to “blow up the classroom” as Nicole Mirra said in our interview. Ultimately this means getting involved in a community that is broader than the classroom involves, meaning that any dialogue is more that just teacher to student, but student-learner to other community members. An example of this can be viewed in Jennifer Woolven’s description of a classroom experience here.
Technology and digital literacies enters into the picture, not as the focus of connected learning, but as a tool that can help teachers and students connect to broader audiences more quickly than ever before. Examples of this kind of learning are as varied as the posts you see on Facebook, Instagram, or your favorite blogs. A few examples can be found in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, and at the sites here, here, here, and here.
Ultimately, connected learning is about finding ways to engage student interest and get them involved in the community. I hope that you have seen this as I’ve progressed through this badge and in the resources provided here.