About 15 years ago I became involved in ICT and education. Compared with those days, we now have much more exciting applications available for education. New technologies, great possibilities.
Nevertheless there is a risk that we still focus to much on technology instead of pedagogy. This may lead to &#x2018;automating&#x2019; the past. Using SL for lectures is an example.
I want to address briefly three perspectives that can help instructional designers to focus on the pedagogical use of ICT.
According to the Dutch professor Robert-Jan Simons there are seven ways in which technology can enhance learning. Simons uses the label"seven pillars of digital pedagogy". Two of these pillars have to do with connected classrooms.
ICT enables schools to get in touch with resources and people that where out of reach when we had no technology. Furthermore we can use technology to publish learning results to a larger audience. Let me give you four examples.
One example is CSCL. A group of learners is working together to accomplish a task, from different perspectives (like cultures or roles). A virtual learning environment provides structure. Teachers are important for guidance and support.
Another example of the pillars &#x2018;relate and donate&#x2019; is the use of weblogs. I call blogs &#x201C;thoughts under construction&#x201D;. Students use blogs to make their thoughts about a theme explicit. They receive comments from several people. Not only students and teachers. Blogs help students to connect with experts from the outside world. Feedback helps to reflect on the thoughts .
The third example of Simons&#x2019; pillar is the use of virtual worlds in education. One of the added values of virtual worlds is that students have the feeling they are connected with real people. They can actually see the ones they are learning with. This ability - called Social presence- is important to motivate students to learn.
The last example of this pillar: research shows that if students are able to publish the results of their learning in a way several people can see and use them, they are more motivated to learn. Learning becomes more meaningful.
The second perspective is the theory of connectivism, developed by George Siemens. According to Siemens new internettechnologies make that we all operate in networks. A network consists of nodes and connections; these are important for knowledge building.
Nodes are different kind of resources. Like websites, articles, videos, podcasts, pictures. But also people with expertise, students can connect with to ask questions or to discuss with.
According to George Siemens it is more important to become part of a powerful network, and to maintain this network, instead of learning facts so you can reproduce them in a test. In my opinion this is also a form of connected classrooms.
Virtual worlds and especcially social networking technologies like Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed or Facebook can be used to create and maintain networks for learning purposes. Let me give you two examples.
Thanks to Twitter I recieve tips for articles. I answer questions from other people. My followers see when I publish a new blogpost. And I get help, for example if I want to know how I can use my iPhone as a remote control for my MacBook. I also use Twitter to search for themes or contributions on events.
A second example of learning in networks is the use of a RSS-feed reader. Thanks to this application I scan hundreds of blog posts a day. By scanning them I recognize patterns between these different contributions. I also have categorised blogs in importancy. Ofcourse I don&#x2019;t read every post, only the most importants ones. Thanks to social bookmarking I can save them to use later on.
The way I use Twitter, RSS and social bookmarking leads to the third perspective: serendity learning. I don&#x2019;t have a learning purpose on forehand. I learn accidentely and lifelong. I believe it is important that we stimulate student to use these technologies for their own learning by chance.
Recently Tom Woodward wrote what he thinks is the challenge of todays schools, and I think he is right. This implies a paradigm shift in education, a different use of technology and the use of different technology.
Part of this paradigm shift is that we create powerful learning environments that recognise and use learning outcomes from self organised learning. And that we stimulate our students to develop skills, and to use technologies for this informal learning. Are we talking about connected classrooms here? I believe we do when we connect formal and informal learning.
One of the implications is that teachers not only know the content of learning and the pedagogy associated with that content: so effective instructional strategies. They also need to know the pedagogical possibilities and limitations of the technology that they can use and are using.
Our complex knowledge society needs civilians who have different competences, compared with people who grew up in the industrial era. Creativity, the ability to collaborate, digital literacy. These -and other- capabilities are important nowadays. This has implications for learning goals, pedagogy, assessment and the use of technology. And it will also lead to new ways of connected classrooms.
“I want them (schools, WR)
to create more opportunities for teachable moments, more chances for kids to follow their passions and interests, more pathways and more ﬂexibility. I want schools orchestrating chances for serendipity.” Tom Woodward (2009): Serendipity Different ways of learning, different use of technology, using different technology