Connecting for Learning: A 21st Century Challenge

On August 21, 2010, in Julie Lindsay, by Julie Lindsay

Our first week in ITGS was all about Connecting. We are connecting ourselves to the resources needed to learn more about ITGS, as well as connecting ourselves to the people we will be communicating and collaborating with. The Challenge with Connecting is finding the right tools to facilitate efficient connections AND adopting behaviors for connected learning. Participants in online learning communities need to realize that the learning and therefore the connecting does not stop once the face-to-face class has ended. There is an ongoing expectation that a 24/7 approach will be taken and communications received and responded to in an ongoing way.  Despite our students being very connected via their social spaces (FaceBook, online games etc) they are often NOT connected for learning and do not understand how to be a connected learner. Therefore, getting started for ITGS we have started to put into place essential connection tools and strategies for this. Here is a brief review of what tools my class have started with:

Social bookmarking: Delicious is the tool we can access, however strangely the RSS feed for the ITGSopedia Diigo account is visible to all via the Inside ITGS Ning

Educational Network for community learning and sharing: All students have joined the Inside ITGS Ning, set up a profile and started to connect with the other class at WAB. Their first assignment is to connect with a partner, so friend requests have been sent, and students wait somewhat impatiently for replies. This handshake is very important when establishing an online learning community, and it requires participants to be online in order to connect. The less aware students will be the ones missing out in this first instance as they may not understand the importance responding and connecting.

Wiki-centric classroom: My class ITGS Wiki will be the center of all BISS activity. My students will join this wiki and have collaborative assignments and be expected to contribute to this knowledge base. We have also set up a joint wiki, Inside ITGS wiki, for classroom collaborations and joint communication to do with the curriculum.

Classroom Monitoring Portal (CMP): We are trying to set up an RSS startup page, or CMP. This is another essential way to connect with the outside world and with each other. This page will feed the information to us. It will contain news feeds for latest technology happenings, feeds for our online spaces, and bookmark feeds, and more! We had a frustrating lesson on Friday trying to find a tool that works in China. I want to use NetVibes or PageFlakes, but despite lots of positive energy in the classroom we could not get these to work properly without a VPN. We are going to use iGoogle I think, but even that kept going down for minutes at a time (probably because it is monitored by the Internet police and a surge of users, even a small number, shows up). I would be interested in any suggestions readers of this blog may have for an alternative. iGoogle is doable, however it lacks the public sharing feature (as far as I can tell), so I can only share a tab with others via personal emails. I really want this to be a definite ITGS portal for RSS feeds……..more about this next week.

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