I’ll be honest. As soon as I saw the logo for this badge, I knew I was going to avoid it. Yeah, I like technology (but not more than you, you see… name that reference!) but I’ve never been one for incorporating something into the classroom just because it’s new and fancy. I say this, not having ever been a teacher, but having been a student. Sure, Smart boards were cool, but did they help us learn? It sure didn’t when I was in eighth grade. But, they’ve come a long way.
My point is, I saw the logo for this badge and it looked like a wifi signal and I didn’t have any clue what to think, except that I wasn’t on board.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a badge by its icon?
Then, when the Teacher as Reader badge kicked the bucket (Requiescat en pace) I knew I had to explore other options. That’s when I stumbled upon connected learning.
The Connected Learning Alliance says:
The “connected” in connected learning is about human connection as well as tapping the power of connected technologies. Rather than see technology as a means toward more efficient and automated forms of education, connected learning puts progressive, experiential, and learner-centered approaches at the center of technology-enhanced learning.
Now this, this is something I can get on board with. Learning that is focused on connecting students with their interests and desires, and rather than it being “about” technology, using technology to make it about the student. Man, what I would have given for this sort of approach in my own schooling.
A slogan I want to hang in my classroom is, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” This became a motto of mine when I first heard it on a hunting trip I took in tenth grade. I’d taken a week off from school to sleep in the woods and wander around with a rifle slung over my shoulder. There was so much more to learn about living than what I was studying in my Algebraic Functions class.
I wonder what I would have become if I had been able to pursue my interests in the classroom from day one. For those of you who have been reading along with me this semester, you may remember that I have always loved reading, and often spent way too much time on writing assignments in Elementary school. What if I had been able to leverage and channel that energy into learning how to be a storyteller instead of the focus being on just getting a certain number of words out in the short breadth of time we had for free writes? Or, what if someone noticed the capacity for creative planning and problem solving that Legos allowed me to cultivate, as I spent countless hours designing and refining models of starships and medieval landscapes. Maybe I wasn’t thrilled about learning trigonometry, but if someone had related it to modeling and engineering then maybe I’d be pursuing a career that pays a lot more than teaching or writing…
My point is, from my first look into connected learning it seems to be all about the student’s interests, and leveraging the technologies that are available in the twenty-first century classroom to support that learning. This allows educators to support student interests, and match curriculum standards to practical applications. Most of us have had classroom experiences where we wondered how we were ever going to apply the lesson to anything practical in life. Connected learning is about bridging that gap in ways that interest the student, making the learning theirs, so that they can pursue their goals, interests, and desires, rather than forcing them to fit the mold of a student, without preparing them for the vast number of individualized, tailored, and multi-faceted careers that they will encounter upon graduation.