Nicole Mirra is one of the authors of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, and was willing to do an interview with me for my Connected Learning badge. The following is a summation of what we talked about:
“Connected learning should be part of the pedagogy, no matter what technology you have,” she said and went on to describe that it is really just a “new language” to talk about teaching and learning. The emphasis, as I have described is not necessarily on trying to make technology the focus of the classroom, but to use technology to increase the opportunities for all of our students to connect their learning to things that they care about. In Nicole’s words, “it’s about applying purpose and collaboration” to issues that matter to our student and relate to the classroom objectives.
However, technology allows us to provide more equitable access to the resources of the twentieth century. Again, using Nicole’s words, it can “explode” the classroom by allowing students to access people and resources that wouldn’t normally be available. A prime example was my interview with Nicole. She lives in California and I live in Colorado, and I was able to have a “face to face” conversation with her over FaceTime. Thus, an undergraduate English Education student can open a dialogue with a professional teacher with years of experience in the field of connected learning. The example that Nicole used was that of creating a multi-modal (meaning to use more than just text, incorporating video, audio, and even interactive forum posts) research project for a topic that students are interested in. This requires them to setup interviews, do detailed research, find resources that do a better job of explaining a topic than they believe they could do on their own, and get their classmates involved in the discussion in a way that allows safety that a classroom might not. Everyone can share their opinions and have their voices heard on an online forum, even if they aren’t the kind of student that would normally speak in class.
To finish, Nicole’s concluding point was that connected learning is about “creating relationships, building community, and accounting for everyone’s interests and background.” A teacher in a connected learning classroom develops their curriculum around their students as people first.
To learn more about Nicole Mirra, follow her on twitter @Nicole_Mirra and consider reading Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom here (and, if you can spare the change, pay the 99 cents for the pdf).