Blog post #2 ~ Connected learning and digital literacy

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Connected learning is the best way to argue for an immediate shift in the way classrooms operate. Siemans (2008) makes a strong case in his discussion paper that the integration of technology must be accompanied by a more collaborative and democratic inquiry-based learning process. He also outlines relevant research on the nature of learning, both traditional theories and newer ideologies developed to account for emerging technologies. Connectivism becomes central to the argument that instructional methodology requires a complete re-design. His exploration of ‘metaphors of educators’ (2008, p.15) are enlightening and relevant, all four notions challenging teachers to stop acting as the gatekeeper, the fount of all knowledge (Chase, 2011), and always controlling the structure of the physical classroom (Garcia, 2014). The more choices we give teachers, the better chance they will find a model that suits them, making it more possible for them to participate in connected learning classrooms.

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But much has happened in connected learning since 2008. Rapid change in technology demands a similarly rapid response from academics who must cater to the desire for more evaluation and critique of our digital age. The precise terms and authentic situations in two more recent articles (Ito & Martin, 2013; Kumasi, 2014) clearly demonstrated that librarians can use connected learning practices for more than teaching information and digital literacies. They can be applied to the part of the job that is probably my favourite: building a reading culture in schools.

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Using reading as their focus, these US librarians (Ito & Martin, 2013; Kumasi, 2014) explain the unique role libraries can play in schools and communities. They make a strong argument that connected learning is most effective when three separate elements in a young person’s life–interest-driven activities, socially networked communities and academic endeavours–are drawn together by stimulating educational lesson design, so that students engage, participate, and make connections with their learning.

However, at its core, connected learning is really all about supporting young people to best use of the technological tools at their digital fingertips (Garcia, 2014), and to not distinguish between what they enjoy and what they are required to do. If they can see how much their social networking can value-add to their classroom learning, they will be better equipped to succeed.

And what of digital literacy? What role does it play in connected learning? It might seem I see connected learning as simple and easily achieved. Of course it is not. Many external factors impact on its success in schools, and an understanding of digital literacy can help explain and explore the complications. Just as the term connected learning has been refined over time, so too has digital literacy (Bawden, 2008). It encompasses many issues : Ethical usage (Siemens, 2008), privacy issues, concerns about cyberbullying, and promoting positive digital footprints are vital considerations for schools trying to negotiate a fully integrated BYOD paradigm.

Teachers who take up the challenge to explicitly teach students about how to best manage their devices, their data and their digital identity, are the ones who understand the real meaning of connected learning and digital literacy.

 

Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy (pp. 17-32): Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Digital Literacies: Embracing the Squishiness of Digital Literacy. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy54(7), 535-537. doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.7.7

Garcia, A. (Ed.). (2014). Teaching in the connected classroom. Irvine, CA.: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Ito, M., & Martin, C. (2013). Connected Learning and the Future of Libraries. Young Adult Library Services, 12(1), 29-32.

Kumasi, K. (2014). Connected Learning. Teacher Librarian, 43(3), 8-15.

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITFORUM for discussion.

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3 thoughts on “Blog post #2 ~ Connected learning and digital literacy

    1. Thanks miss. That message is coming through clearly in all that I read. Applying it to school might be a little different. #realityversusresearch

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  1. I do like the way you structured your argument in this..nicely woven together, and good use of references too. Connected learning and digital literacy are two key concepts that urgently need to be linked, and better resourced in the education experience. I think you are quite ready to take up the challenge!

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