Eric Sheniger made a statement this evening that resonated with me on a variety levels.
There needs to be more of a concerted effort to promote connected learning (power up instead of power down) #edchat
— Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) July 24, 2012
I agree with him. We are well into a time frame where teachers should be engaging learners with emerging and connective technologies NOT asking whether we should or shouldn’t.
But I’m left with many thoughts that have been rattling around lately. WARNING: stream of consciousness about to begin!
First, I wonder what we are doing locally, face to face.
Here is the thing. Many of us advocate for students to utilize technology for collaboration, connections, networks, etc. But what are we doing locally and face to face?
It isn’t an either/or argument. But for all the talk about connected learning, we seem to place much emphasis on the technology as the lever for such connections.
So I wonder how much we are leveraging the connected learning mindset with an emphasis on the face to face as a lever and the local connections as a lever.
And this leads to my second thought.
Second, it isn’t the technology.
The resistance to connected learning and emerging technologies stems from a resistance to the pedagogical underpinnings.
Think about those that have embraced connected learning, emerging technologies, and connective media. With the few exceptions, all have had a firm foundation or a legitimate interest in cooperative learning, inquiry, making thinking public, project-based learning, and other messy, learner-centered approaches.
They gravitate towards technology infusion and wrestle with the process because the technologies fit within their theory of learning.
Those that are content-centered or teacher-centered struggle with these technologies. Their approaches to the classroom are on the opposite spectrum of where the technologies would fit into their mindset.
Yet, we continue to focus on the these teachers as Luddites, as failing to make progress. We call them resistors. We put them into more and more professional development. We show them new technologies. And then we wonder what is wrong with them. Why aren’t they interested.
Just take a look at their classroom and it is easy to see we have it all wrong:
- Funny thing is that a number embrace all sorts of technologies, pieces that fit into their paradigm – their way of seeing how learning and teaching should occur in the classroom.
- Others embrace little to no technology not because they despise it. They despise today’s technology that is heavily focused on the learner and learning not on the teacher, teaching, and content.
They aren’t technology resistors. They are resistant to a different view of learning and the teaching needed for this context.
This isn’t the tired discussion about focusing on learning and teaching over technology. It is actually a realization that we are still addressing the age ol’ debate between conflicting learning theories:
- those that fall on one side of the continuum gravitate towards the use of technology many of us desire – they also understand deeply learner centered approaches.
- those that fall on the other side of the continuum gravitate towards the use of technology many of us don’t even consider as technology or they use none at all – they also understand deeply content centered approaches.
Broad stoke? Sure.
But I’m stuck wrestling with the realization that change is not going to occur nor will we see a dramatic shift in the use of technology and face to face for connective learning until teachers rethink their beliefs about learning, what this means for teaching, and how technology can assist.
And quite honestly, I’m wondering if we should even be wrestling with it. Perhaps students having a balance of different types of teachers, learning environments, and learning theories is better than an educational career exposed to only one side of the continuum.