This high school librarian is on a quest to transform our library to be an enabling learning environment – where learning can be active, self-directed and social. My journey has brought me to this course, INF530, the start of a long-awaited Masters’ study.
Here then, are the big lessons learnt:
Knowledge is a vector (I heard it here), is changeable, and probably (like facts) only has a half-life (Coulter, 2014; The Economist, 2012). Learning should not be viewed as “internal, individualistic activities” (see my contribution to discussion forum THREAD 2.4: Thinking in Networks), as I learnt in cognitivism, or constructivism but can be created in a connected network. Viewing knowledge creation as social and connected, is the KEY: knowledge is “distributed across a network of connections” and really is the connections between entities. Learning is “the ability to traverse those networks”, or the creation/adjustment/deletion of these connections between entities (Downes, 2010). This was the first big lesson learnt: My understanding of knowledge, and how we learn, needs updateding in our connected world. Knowledge Networks (INF532) is next on my journey!
Because of the networked and connected environment of our digital age, learning should not be as teacher-directed and classroom-based, but student-centred and –directed and social. It is happening more often informally, through communities of practice, moocs and other forms of social or e-learning, than in formal educational institutions – at least in the adult world (Siemens (2004); Downes (2010)). I knew that teaching content to students sitting in rows is not 21st century best practice, and Wenger made me realise that learning IS social, but Seely Brown (2000) convinced me that our digital learners have all the tools (web 2.0 based – see my blogpost here) needed, for learning to become situated in action. Learning-to-learn happens naturally when participating in a community of practice (Seely Brown, 2000). Learners need to learn in their natural habitats – learning ecologies; educators need to support students to construct personal learning networks (says Downes (2017), as I tweeted here) and enable them to learn where they are already interested. How? Enters: connected learning.
Connected learning is a framework loosely based on connectivism (as formulated by Siemens(2004) and Downes(2010)) and concerned with reimagining a more valid and relevant educational experience for those growing up in the digital age (see my blogpost here). Connected learning is “socially embedded, interest-driven and oriented towards educational, economic or global opportunity” (Ito, et al., 2013, p.6). It advocates employing open, social and participatory web 2.0 media (namely online platforms, digital tools for creating, publishing and collaborating, social media and web-based communities) in employing technology to augment learning. It reasons that connected, peer- and mentor-supported learning that is interest-powered is the most effective. The connected learning approach resonates with my instinctive understanding of what learning can be in the digital age. This new framework has been accepted well, but not yet implemented widely. Can connected learning principles be implemented in a high school library?
There are valid links between the principles of connected learning and the work being done in school libraries to adapt to the 21st century (see YALSA; ASLA; Future Ready Librarians and the Alliance for Excellent Education):
- Creating flexible learning spaces in libraries where students gather to learn collaboratively, to make and create and to “play” at learning in a social environment.
- Librarians provide access to information sources to pursue not only academic goals, but personal interests. They can (and do) facilitate connections with communities of practice where those with similar interest can share and learn.
- Libraries are no longer restricted to physical places, but should develop their online spaces to meet learners when and where they learn.
- Librarians are valuable in helping students and teachers acquire trans-literacy, and information fluency skills and other digital proficiencies needed to be successful critical consumers and creative producers of information sources.
- Students need mentors to help develop their digital identifies and to become engaged, ethically behaving digital citizens.
Before this course I was (at best) a critical consumer of media. I am now convinced that knowledge can be collectively and collaboratively generated by engaged members contributing valuable insights to their communities of learning. I am actively expanding my personal learning network, working on social participation and media production skills.
The journey has started, there remains much to be learnt.
Alliance for Excellent Education. (2016, March). Future ready librarians. Retrieved from http://1gu04j2l2i9n1b0wor2zmgua.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FR_Librarians_Factsheet.pdf
Australian School Library Association. (2013, April). Future learning and school libraries. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/2013-ASLA-futures-paper.pdf
Braun, L. W., Hartman, M. L., Hughes-Hassell, S., & Kumasi, K. (2014, January). The future of library services for and with teens: A call to action. Retrieved from Young Adult Library Services Association website: http://www.ala.org/yaforum/sites/ala.org.yaforum/files/content/YALSA_nationalforum_final.pdf
Cognitivism. (2015, June 19). Retrieved May 27, 2017, from Learning Theories website: https://www.learning-theories.com/cognitivism.html
Connectivism (Siemens, Downes). (2015, June 1). Retrieved May 27, 2017, from Learning Theories website: https://www.learning-theories.com/connectivism-siemens-downes.html
Constructivism. (2015, June 20). Retrieved May 27, 2017, from Learning Theories website: https://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html
Coulter, P. (Producer). (2014, January 15). The great book of knowledge: Part 1. Ideas. Podcast retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2430203081
DMLReseachHub. (2012, October 31). Connected learning: Everyone, everywhere, anytime [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viHbdTC8a90
Downes, S. (2010). Learning networks and connective knowledge. In H. H. Yang & S. C.-Y. Yuen (Eds.), Collective intelligence and e-Learning 2.0 (pp. 1-26). https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-729-4
Downes, S. (2017, May 16). A model of personal learning. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from http://www.downes.ca/presentation/469
The Economist. (2012, November 28). The half life of facts [Blog post]. Retrieved from Babbage website: http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/11/qa-samuel-arbesman
Itu, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., . . . Watkins, S. C. W. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Retrieved from https://dmlhub.net/wp-content/uploads/files/teaching-in-the-CL-classroom.pdf
Massive open online course. (2017, May 11). Retrieved May 27, 2017, from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
Seely Brown, J. (2000). Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the way people learn. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091380009601719
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Internationl Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, (Jan). Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm
Tierney, J. (2014, July 16). Connected learning infographic [Video file]. Retrieved from http://prezi.com/9kuoj3x7o8rc/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share
Wenger, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/
Wenger, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Social learning – a framework. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from http://wenger-trayner.com/tag/social-learning-spaces/
Wolf, M. A., Jones, R., & Gilbert, D. (2014, January). Leading in and beyond the library. Retrieved from http://www.boces.com/cms/lib3/NY26000031/Centricity/Domain/15/BeyondTheLibrary.pdf