Working collaboratively with others fosters learning. Bringing students away from the model where they feel they can only learn from the teacher will help them realize the value of others. Learning needs to take place in our every day activities. Everytime we observe someone else or ask questions we grow. Creating networks of friends, peers and colleagues is not something new for us. However, today we can expand that network of people to those all over the world, the quantity and variety of individuals is broader. What does that mean for our learning and the education of our students?
A learning network can help us sift through all the data that is constantly available to us and identify the information that will be most useful to us. It helps us learn from others, but also encourages us to participate and contribute to the learning of others. This can be so valuable to all of us.
I have not yet taken the opportunity to create individual learning networks with my students, but have created one as a class for the human body unit we are working on in science class. The students have been enthusiastic about checking what new information has come to us each day and taking the time to respond has helped them to work collaboratively as a class. My only frustration is the fact that social networking as a whole is blocked in my school. The Websense that we use has allowed me to access some of these network connections using quota time, which is only about 10 minutes at a sitting.
How do we create 21st century schools that encourage our students to create networks and collaborate with others, but also keep our students safe? I believe education is the answer, not avoidance!