Connected learning

Connected Learning

This is going to be a longish - but first of all I just wanted to thanks everyone for helping me get going and getting stuck in. I have been really enjoying looking at other people's work and have been really inspired by reading around.

Digital storytelling seems like the best place for me to start here for now as I sort of have to hit the road running. But beforehand, two points about connected learning. Three things about being a 'connected educator' that I notice, as a secondary teacher.

1. CONNECTING: I think of a connected educator as someone dynamically going in between the local space and the on-line or distant spaces outside of that, between the new tools and old ones. A connector is for me then someone who can often end up blending in new and old ways of teaching and can place something fairly 'new' cleverly into different contexts in schools (digital storytelling, social curation etc..) in a way that helps others to 'join up' and redesign different practices.Yeah, I know that sounds an awful lot like instructional leadership. I guess I don't think that connected learning should be presented as if it should mean being totally hooked into the 21st century and living in a totally on-line world. Intercultural connectivity, and learning to live together are similar forms of interconnecting that should be included in 'connected learning'. 

2. TIME: One point that I think policy and educational gurus can miss when it comes to teaching and teacher development, is the most obvious one. Teachers are busy (as a rule) and easily become overwhelmed with delivering courses, marking and managing programs in a busy high school. Being in a connected learning space for me involves being in a space where you can be productive, conducting energy and creating content and experimenting with the tools. As a teacher that space and time comes at a high premium - and that learning space will extend to the limit that it can in different contexts, but beyond a certain limit the 'transaction costs' make any activity less productive to invest time in learning, and high energy development learning becomes a hard grind. People need time to work around ideas and tools. Creating identities through practices that also build up around shared tools takes time too. However, at the same time I see there is no point in waiting for the late adopters to give the nod. The sort of apprenticeship model of 'joining the profession' of practitioners and old-timers has its benefits for the young teacher but it is also frustrating and has its share of problems. Joining up teachers and creating communities where sharing becomes part of the glue that makes educators 'connected' is important, but sometimes it also makes it hard to introduce new tools and practices. It does takes time, but you need to get innovators to bridge that chasm.

3. TEACHER DEVELOPMENT: Connectivity for educators I think is a missing element in many school teachers' professional lives. Beyond the staffroom a professional teaching career can become stuck in a sort of no-fly zone, where departments and choices become limited, circles get small, decisions have limited scope, opportunities are too limited and schools are too inactive for some teachers to grow and develop and find their 'groove'. Academics in Higher Education have the luxury of being placed continually in communities of practice that drive them to develop excellence and to innovate, but I think as a teacher I often felt a greater need for ways to overcome this isolation. Professional learning and its scarier bureaucratic forms of performance management too often are merely administered through procedural channels. There is a need for professional learning communities that I think fit this need for development, that this kind of course can fulfill.  


  1. Hi Thomas:

    Welcome to etmooc! I agree with all of your points. I especially like the point about connected learning not necessarily having to be focused on digital tools. I guess it can easily get that focus because with such tools we can connect to so many other people, and share our work so widely. But connected learning can happen with any connections one makes; it can be as small as one other person, or as large as thousands (though harder to connect with that many in any real sense). I hadn't though about connections in the sense of connecting new technologies with old ways of teaching. But perhaps it *would* help entice others to try some of these things if people were taking small steps to incorporate them rather than making wholesale changes. Others could conceive of themselves doing the small steps as well.

    And some of us were talking early on in etmooc about the possibility of this kind of course being used for prof development. I have to say I'm learning more in etmooc than I have in most other PD workshops, and I certainly am making connections with people that will (hopefully) last long after the course is finished.

  2. Thanks Christina,

    Good to hear your comments. I agree, there is more than just being totally hooked into the 21st century here. It is encouraging to see people from a wide range of areas on ETMOOC also delving into it to make connections that hopefully will lead them to arrive in the places the wish to get to.

    I can see that the sort of exploratory element to the whole thing is so different from normal PD, I mean that you are simply connecting up dots that you think make sense to you as you go. Certainly this to me seems a valid and constructivist framework for teachers to engage in CPD on-line. Actually I am doing another MOOC with EdX at the same time and it is entirely different, but also good and very well structured but this is just much more like throwing yourself into the pool ! Which I think suits how as teachers we do tend to naturally share and collaborate.