31 January 2011

Learning can — and must — be networked

Over the weekend, I shared the EduCon Conference's axioms with the TPIT Diigo group which included the statement: Learning can — and must — be networked.

I've often described my experiences with learning within social networks as serendipitous. I never know what will pop up on Twitter, in my Reader, in my Diigo groups, or, as it occurred today, even in Goodreads. I don't even usually consider Goodreads when I name the social networks I use. I started using it because my brother uses it and it was a fun way to keep up with his reading and to share my reading as well.

A few weeks ago my Goodreads account was followed by Paul Reynolds, the brother of Peter Reynolds (author of Ish, and other excellent books). I'm guessing he connected with my account because I had marked several of Peter's books as read (but to be honest, I don't really know). Today, Paul shared a review of The Big Picture: Education is Everyone's Business written by Dennis Littky and Samantha Grabelle.

In his review, Paul wrote:
If we move to a model that is student-at-center/teacher-at-periphery within a distributed learning community (one that, as Chris Dede states would, "enable a shift from the traditional transfer and assimilation of information to the creation, sharing and mastery of knowledge."), the teacher has TIME to take on the mentoring role. Educators would no longer have to scramble daily to be the fully-stocked "information vending machine" - rapidly dispensing knowledge to "cover" content standards/requirements - instead they could focus time and energy on knowing their learners.
While I'd love to head off on a tangent and share how I see this as one of the benefits of 1:1 and student-centered learning that we're trying to achieve, I'll practice what I preach to my students and stick to my topic.

For me, much of my learning occurs when I simply show up in one of my networks. Thankfully there are others out there who are sharing what they are learning and trying with their students. What can you do today to facilitate learning for yourself? Is there a social network that you've been curious about trying out? Give it a try and see what happens.

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