Argument for Connectivism as a Learning Theory

To look at the evolution of education, a huge shift occurred when computers became the necessary means to deliver effective and engaging instruction. We now see a classroom where students are no longer handed textbooks, but instead given laptops and iPads. So in a world where the technology drives the instruction, it is impossible to say the Connectivism is NOT a learning theory.

I was in the group that supported Connectivism as a learning theory, so I would like to address the argument that is not. One reason for the argument is that Educators disappear. The opposition is to believe that laptops and technology take over that that the role of the teacher will eventually become obsolete. That is not about a learning theory, but instead about delivery instruction. But the truth is, even if you take a class and put it online, the role of the educator is still present and still exists. You cannot have instruction, of any kind and eliminate the instructor.

The argument states..”.The thought of full technology running the student, would put concern on whether or not they were gaining appropriate knowledge of social aspects in education.”

Yes, it would be concerning if technology was running the student, but the truth is, is that connectivism is not saying that technology replaces the instruction. The theory states that students use connections to enhance the learning. The technology is simply the means to the end. Not the end itself. Connectivism is about making connections, and yes, in today’s day and age the technology will allow that to happen quicker. However, connections can be made in other ways, it’s just that technology is more accessible and quicker to access.

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Online and Blended Learning

I have facilitated online learners for many years. I feel as though every year the same concerns and confusion surfaces. One of the major goals that I have for my students is to make the learning platform as easy to navigate as possible. I want students to not only be able to find resources to troubleshoot, but I also want them to know where and how to access these resources. Navigating through an online course can be confusing, and I want my students to feel comfortable using it. This comes from my previous experience where students would struggle to complete work because they did not understand how to access or submit assignments.

At my school it is a challenge to engage online learners because many times one student is the only one in the course, so participating in discussions and blogs is not really beneficial, since nobody is there to listen and/or respond. My goal is to create more individualized assignments that gives students opportunities to explain their answers and create projects to demonstrate their understanding of skills and concepts.

  • Problems that I plan to face are overall motivation. Too many times when students are told that they no longer have to complete work in the “traditional” way, they tend to believe that the course will be easy and shut down. Also, I fear that students will not put forth their best effort and minimize their experience.  My hope is to create engaging and relevant lessons to keep students engaged and on track. So if a student is alone in a course, I would have them conduct discussions with me so he she does not have to miss out on the assignment.

 

Flickr

One of the challenges of teaching is staying on top of all of the newest ways in which students are engaged and learning. With technology in the classroom, this is a constant moving target. With Flickr, I can see many uses and ways in which this site can innovate my current lessons and engage students at the same time.

I often find myself struggling on how to make reading and writing more creative. At the end of the day, students have to do both. But I think the key to developing those skills is to add on supplementary resources to aid students in developing those skills. With Flickr, there are many options to do that. Here are 2 ideas….

  1. Connecting abstract concepts to concrete ideas. Literary elements are tough, especially at the high school level. With a site like Flickr, I can take these concepts like themes, symbolism, tone, etc… and connect them to students prior knowledge. For example, in Of Mice and Men, we discuss 4 themes of the novel. Prior to reading, I can have students take digital images that represent these themes, so that they can can a clear understanding of what each theme means and represents. Now they will have an opportunity to identify it easier as they read the book.
  2. More project-based learning – With Flickr, end of unit projects and assessments can now change in appearance. Students can now create more visual representations of their learning rather than always having to express it in written form. The visual elements can assist students in developing their written answers if they have to capture it visually first.

 

Here is my picture…

(2017, October 12). z785073409046_46c8ad3b57698023992be2ad41051237.jpg. nhadatvideo’s stream Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/40129895@N03/37395343340/in/dateposted/

37395343340_a2fc9316f4_o

RSS

As an English teacher I love the classics! Jay Gatsby and Daisy, STELLLLLAAAAA, George and Lennie, and of course, the evil rise and tragic fall of MacBeth! But, in a world where celebrity fashions and professional athlete protests fill social media feeds, and media outlets are questioned for reliability, I find myself taking a step back from my classroom to determine how the classic characters of literature and the present day players of pop culture can merge in my classroom.

So how do we present what students SHOULD know with what they want to know?

Developing an RSS feed for pop culture and national news can bring the daily headlines in one place where teachers can find quick references to make connections to the daily lesson plan. This connection could occur in many forms:

Anticipatory Set: Post the headline on the Smartboard, or have a link if you are a 1:1 school. Students enter the classroom and read your selected article. Post a discussion board or Google Doc to have students make connections to what they just read to what you are reading in class. Example: If you are reading Of Mice and Men, follow a medical journal on your RSS. A new finding about Autism or other developmental disorders may help students to see the connection between Lennie’s character (in the 1930s) and the advancements of the disorder today.

Formative assessments during reading: If you are reading the book aloud in class (or short story, etc…) Use the same article, but have students make distinct connections between what Lennie just did in Chapter 3 and how is relates to the article you just shared. Maybe your students aren’t connecting with the love triangles in The Great Gatsby, so find an news article about teenagers who do stupid things for love (I’m sure there are one or two of those floating around). Students could work together or alone to make connections between the article and the actions of Daisy, Tom, and Jay.

Summative Assessment: At the conclusion of your novel, story, play, etc… have students find their own current events using the RSS feed. After developing the characters, identifying the theme, analyzing the setting and the symbolic references, set them lose to find modern day love stories, or tragedies that mirror the classic that your just read.

CONCLUSION

Using RSS to develop lesson plans and having students create their own RSS to complete assessments is a valuable tool to enhance any classroom lesson. Of course this example was pop culture, but science, math, social studies, can all benefit from pulling together resources into one location to use to develop any classroom lesson.

 

Lesson Plan using Diigo

Here is my lesson plan that uses Diigo.

I created a separate group on my Diigo account for my 11th graders. Using the articles that I bookmarked and their own knowledge of the play, they will identify themes and then create a poster that promotes their selected theme.

3D2 Lesson Plan.Pope

RSS

As an English teacher I love the classics! Jay Gatsby and Daisy, STELLLLLAAAAA, George and Lennie, and of course, the evil rise and tragic fall of MacBeth! But, in a world where celebrity fashions and professional athlete protests fill social media feeds, and media outlets are questioned for reliability, I find myself taking a step back from my classroom to determine how the classic characters of literature and the present day players of pop culture can merge in my classroom.

So how do we present what students SHOULD know with what they want to know?

Developing an RSS feed for pop culture and national news can bring the daily headlines in one place where teachers can find quick references to make connections to the daily lesson plan. This connection could occur in many forms:

Anticipatory Set: Post the headline on the Smartboard, or have a link if you are a 1:1 school. Students enter the classroom and read your selected article. Post a discussion board or Google Doc to have students make connections to what they just read to what you are reading in class. Example: If you are reading Of Mice and Men, follow a medical journal on your RSS. A new finding about Autism or other developmental disorders may help students to see the connection between Lennie’s character (in the 1930s) and the advancements of the disorder today.

Formative assessments during reading: If you are reading the book aloud in class (or short story, etc…) Use the same article, but have students make distinct connections between what Lennie just did in Chapter 3 and how is relates to the article you just shared. Maybe your students aren’t connecting with the love triangles in The Great Gatsby, so find an news article about teenagers who do stupid things for love (I’m sure there are one or two of those floating around). Students could work together or alone to make connections between the article and the actions of Daisy, Tom, and Jay.

Summative Assessment: At the conclusion of your novel, story, play, etc… have students find their own current events using the RSS feed. After developing the characters, identifying the theme, analyzing the setting and the symbolic references, set them lose to find modern day love stories, or tragedies that mirror the classic that your just read.

 

CONCLUSION

Using RSS to develop lesson plans and having students create their own RSS to complete assessments is a valuable tool to enhance any classroom lesson. Of course this example was pop culture, but science, math, social studies, can all benefit from pulling together resources into one location to use to develop any classroom lesson.