Connected learning in an education context is becoming an important consideration for all educators working with the digital native generation. We are now responsible to plan, prepare and cater for young learners who have grown up in a digital world that continues to rapidly change. Technology continues to grow and develop and this has direct effect on learning based on what is available to users.
These continued developments challenge the way we think, connect and share using the internet. Connectedness suggests a relationship between a person and the Internet not captured or described adequately by traditional use measures—particularly measures based on time, such as hours of use per week (Jung, Qiu, & Kim, 2001) instead it is though that internet connectedness can be defined as a ‘multidimensional conceptualisation of the importance of the Internet in a person’s everyday life.’ (Loges & Jung, 2001)
Through learning and using the internet to discover and learn about topics that are of interest to the individual, users are engaged in their learning and connect to topic content on several levels. Loges and Jung (2001) explain that that connectedness is composed of three dimensions: (a) history and context, (b) scope and intensity, and (c) centrality in one’s life.
Western Sydney University (2018) defines Digital literacy as having the skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is increasingly through digital technologies like internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices. It is important for today’s educators to provide young learners with the tools to navigate and work in a digitally literate environment, however a question I pose is:
How does an educator who has been teaching and working in a non-digital world teach digital native students to be skilled and prepared for a world that they have little or no knowledge of?
This is a real concern for many highly effective traditional teachers currently working in our classrooms and through personal experiences in the workplace, teachers often express that they are having trouble keeping up with the ‘new technology things’ and that students know a lot more than they do in the area of digital connectedness and literacies.
It is one thing to own a computer that is connected to the internet and yet it is another to use it to communicate, collaborate and engage with others online. Many studies investigate the digital divide between senior citizens who are born from a non-digital background to digital natives who will live work and grow online. Studies by Cody et al. (1999) and White et al. (1999) suggest that ‘providing training to the existing generation of seniors may increase their willingness to use the Internet, and that increases in seniors’ well-being can result from activity online.’
While online collaboration and connectedness races ahead for young learners, it is also important not to forget older citizens (both in and out of the workforce). Support and training will assist to reduce workplace stress for teachers and provide them with skills to teach young students to become connected and literate digital citizens.
“I had (and still have) a dream that the Web could be less of a television channel and more of an interactive sea of shared knowledge” Tim Berners-Lee
Word Count – 511 Words
- Digital Connectedness using social media for conferencing (accessed March 2018) https://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/digital-connectedness-using-social-media-for-professional-networking-45138212
- Imagining the Internet – a history and forecast http://www.elon.edu/e-web/imagining/
- Jung, J.-Y., Qiu, J. L., & Kim, Y.-C. (2001). Internet connectedness and inequality: Beyond the “divide”. Communication research, 28(4), 507-535.
- Loges, W. E., & Jung, J.-Y. (2001). Exploring the digital divide: Internet connectedness and age. Communication research, 28(4), 536-562.
- White, H., McConnell, E., Clipp, E., Bynum, L., Teague, C., Navas, L., Craven, S., & Halbrecht, H. (1999). Surfing the Net in later life: A review of the literature and pilot study of computer use and quality of life. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 18(3), 358-378