Serving Schools, Educators, and Families

PREPARING K-12 STUDENTS FOR CONNECTIVIST LEARNING: SOME INITIALQUESTIONS

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As part of today’s “homework” I’m opening this up to fellow participants in Hybrid Pedagogy‘s stimulating MOOC MOOC, hoping to capture some thoughts on the today’s MOOC MOOC “Questions at Hand,” from Jesse Stommel:

  • How does the rise of hybrid pedagogy, open education, and massive open online courses change the relationships between teachers, students and the technologies they share?
  • What would happen if we extracted the teacher entirely from the classroom? Should we?
  • What is the role of collaboration among peers and between teachers and students? What forms might that collaboration take? What role do institutions play?

The goal of establishing connectivist cultures of learning—intertwined, non-spatially or time-delineated communities of individuals motivated by shared curiosities, needs, and/or passions—seems eminently aligned with what I suspect most forward-thnking educators (and parents) want for children, at least in the abstract. It is a giant leap, however, from most familiar “school” situations—even online courses—as experienced by students in the pre-university stages of their lives. Schools may be making halting steps toward altering the roles of teachers, expanding access to knowledge and the ways in which students can acquire or “construct” knowledge, skills, and understandings, but the notion of removing teachers from the “classroom” would give most K–12 educators—including myself, under many circumstances—an extreme case of vertigo.

But the advocates of the participant pedagogy—non-MOOC MOOCers should check out Howard Rheingold’s idea of “peeragogy” or the student comments on a Jesse Stommel class, watch George Siemens’s explication of the concept, or work their way through Stephen Downes’s MOOC Guide wiki—offer up these ideas both as provocations and as a route to education’s future—and they can be compelling.

So, if we are to prepare ourselves and our students to make this great leap, what questions do K–12 educators need to ask ourselves? Here are a few that come to mind:

  • How do we start developing in ourselves, our schools, and most critically our students the habits of mind and the essential skills—and essential kinds of voices—that they will need to navigate their own pathways to learning? How do we even figure out what these are?
  • How do we engage pre-adolescents, tweens, and secondary school students in the kinds of conversations about pedagogy that will help them understand their own wants and needs and how these relate to the work being done by the adults in whose schools and classrooms they find themselves?
  • How do these conversations relate to established and conventional ideas about student learning styles and the power of metacognitive and reflective capacity?
  • Are there markers of “readiness” that indicate points of entry to this process that fit the developmental capacities—cognitive, social/emotional, moral—of learners of various ages?
  • Are there particular kinds of exercises that are especially well suited to helping students and teachers step away from their traditional roles and relationships?
  • What role do schools as institutions and their leaders have in transforming the culture of learning in the direction of connectivist principles and participant pedagogy?
  • How can we be certain that post-secondary education will welcome and truly be ready for students prepared for connectivist learning in which the traditional distinctions in the roles of learner and teacher are blurred and even flipped?
  • In a more connectivist K–12 environment, how can we be certain that all students acquire the essential skills (reading, writing, numeracy, for starters, allowing that these can come in many flavors) they will need for making the most of future learning and citizenship opportunities and responsibilities?

I invite my fellow MOOC MOOCers and anyone else to engage with these questions—to add to them, rephrase them, argue against them (or even against the entire premise), perhaps even to ponder answers.

Please, have at it! And thanks.

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4 Comments
  1. I guess everything you need to know about online schooling is answered by the people from testdrivecollege.com.

  2. No – you weren’t negative at all, just giving me an opportunity to be a frustrated parent – instead of the “Professional Educator”… I guess I was more parent than educator when writing the reply.

    I really like what you said about the inner voice though – That voice now has its own identity – The collective yearning of our students….

    Wonderful!

    Another resource to add to this wonderfully well written blogger (not me) from above. This is an attempt at a k-12 online resource continuum:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmhXfOde53yqdERjSF8zMmRZUmNuNnA4YURNQ1lib0E#gid=0

    Thoughts?

    See you tomorrow!
    Verena :)

  3. @Verena–

    I hope I didn’t sound like a negative voice–I don’t think I am. I’ve been involved with some pretty traditional K12 work (not so much at my own school, where Classroom 2.0 is alive and well, happily), and I think folks have found it helpful to break down daunting ideas by framing questions–starting with Big Ones, which I have tried to do here.

    There’s a ton of information out there, but not everyone is looking for it (or wants to). But I’m reminded of a WEST WING episode where President Bartlet has to decide whether to stop an execution. A succession of wise and moral people are telling him to do what his heart says is right, but still he does not.

    When the good guys have the compelling argument, it’s time to start listening. That still, small voice we hear is not just our conscience, it’s the collective yearning of our students.

    See you at the hangout.

    Thanks–PG

  4. Hello Peter – Thank you for writing this post!

    I am already working with the http://www.peeragogy.com team on creating a k-12 peeragogy article – We are looking for more participants and Howard Rheingold as sent out the word for volunteers:
    http://socialmediaclassroom.com/host/peeragogy/
    I have been focusing on “grassroots” k-12 connectivism – apparent in f2f conferences like EdCon, EdCamps and ConnectedCA – but not as apparent online. This month is Connected Educators month and there has been a HUGE effort to spread the word: http://connectededucators.org/

    Steve Hargadon and Classroom 2.0 have also led the way in created connected opportunities. Next week is another free online conference called Learning 2.0 http://www.classroom20.com/page/2012-learning-2-0-virtual-conference and I will be presenting on MOOC’s in k-12 – how to integrate MOOC like connectvist ideas….

    So – there are many opportunities for free online connectivist professional development already – no excuses. I would also add Peggy George’s LiveBinder which is full of “On Demand” Free Online courses and Professional Development Opportunities.

    As a parent (and educator) I really struggle with the idea that I keep hearing “I have no time” and “this is too hard – How do I do this?”. I am advocate of if you are a professional, go and do your own learning – and bring it back into my child’s classroom.

    However – as a realistic Connected Learner – I realize that the time has come to step up and model what my “inner voice” is telling me to do. I can’t change others, but I can change my own behaviour. There is no point wasting my time on negative energy – get on with it, and hope that others will see the positive energy that is created…

    There is always so much positive energy creaetd in Connected Learning – we tend not to dwell on wht isn’t working, and instead focus on “what about this? and what about that?”

    Youth has already proven that they have the positive energy and skills- educators might not be tapping into. (Mimi Ito) I think it’s about being open to learn from everyone. Teachers need to consider themselves learners – not teachers – first…then the floodgates will open. Oh yes…that includes administrators as well – we are all learners!

    I sound like a communist worker – “learners unite” – and that’s a big part of this – we are all equal as learners – no one is “better” than anyone else….And is that really a bad thing?

    Once the walls go down (physcially and psychologically) the paradigm shift will happen.

    Just my thoughts …

    Oh – k-12 #moocmooc Hangout Session Thurs, Aug 16(tomorrow) 7 pm MDT https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YfWDIeWFre4oNpmzwJGuMh7hPNOB617-YlG0Fx-u4po/edit

    Verena :)

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