What Stands Out
By the way we structure learning at the university or graduate levels, I would probably say I’m not a very good student. Sure, I can read a bunch of literature to support a paper I was assigned to write, in fact, I might even get an ‘A’ on that paper. But then give me about three to four months and I probably won’t remember what majority of that literature said.
The first time I started studying about how humans learn was during college as I was working toward my undegraduate degree in Psychology. I read book after book, journal after journal, but there are only a couple major concepts that have stuck with me to this day, usually concepts and ideas that I heard in a lecture which was then later supported by readings. One of which was that we as humans, before we learn through any other form, primarily learn through our senses. Our senses teach us from the moment we are born to survive.
As I went into my graduate studies in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, of course, the same concept of learning was reinforced and I continued to develop a deeper understanding by working through a variety of ways to create sesory-motor experiences for the young students I worked with each semester. This was further reinforced by conversations with supporting teachers, professors and fellow grad students. I can definitely say, that without the opportunity to devlop my understanding of sensory learning in young children through a variety of avenues, I probably would have let this idea slip away like so many others have in the past.
The Power of Connecting
I feel as though learning through connectivism isn’t necessarily something new, but it’s been given more emphasis in the 21st century because our options for learning have grown tremendously with technology. We aren’t just going to school and reading books to learn, but we’re using Google, Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and many other platforms that help us both share ideas and learn new ones. What makes it all even better is that in today’s day and age, is we can take all of this even further by having conversations across countries and timezones to further the way we learn from and with each other.
So what does this have to do with education? I believe that it is our job as educators to provide an environment that reflects the real world so that students learn the skills necessary to survive in it. These days, much of our lives are taken up by time we spend online, both socially and professionally. We select information to take in and make judgements about how to respond to it, whether or not we think it is authentic or worth sharing on to our own networks. In my eyes, connecting our students to these avenues of learning allows them to develop these skills earlier. It’s part of the reason why I think taking time to become involved in gobal education projects and initiatives is so important in early childhood.
Does Connectivism Have a Future?
The very concept of connectivism runs through the veins of living in the 21st Century. I predict that we will only get more connected as time passes. Recently a friend of mine even said that pretty soon the school system as we know it may even cese to exist because we will all be learning through technology! I do hope that this extreme doesn’t happen because I still believe that the connections we make face to face are still valuable. However, it seems that connectivism is here to stay and it is only a matter of time before all educators accept that using technology to learn and connect is the way our world is moving.