Today I had a perfect example of what is meant by “connected learning” in the age of the internet. I was on my computer working on PIDP 3240 Media Enhanced Learning a course I am taking in pursuit of my Provincial Instructors Diploma. Part of the course consists of finding and evaluating Web 2.0 tools. One such tool I found was Scoop.it a site that uses human curation, along with algorithms to sort and evaluate content into Scoops, pages that are organized according to tags that you provide.
I created an account and set up a topic called Adult Education using: teaching,adult,technology,social media,education, learning as my keywords. One of the first articles of the 100 in the list was “Theory of Knowledge, Social Media and Connected Learning in High School” on the digital media and learning central site. The article introduced me to the concept of connected learning.
Logging into my account today I there was a Scoop from the connected learning research network. I went to their publications page to see if there was anything I could use for my PIDP course and I came across “Re-Mediating Current Activity for the Future” by Kris. D. Gutierrez. It must have been something about the title of the the mention of “growing poverty and inequity” in the short description but I decided to read the paper. The paper was about American educator Mike Rose and his methodology that has come to be associated with cultural historical activity theory (CH/AT). I became intrigued by Mike Rose and googled him to read more of his articles and papers.
The first thing I read was an article in American Scholar “Blue Collar Brilliance”. As a blue collar worker myself the choice was obvious. It was an autobiographical piece that described his mother who was a waitress and talked about the cognitive skills involved in her job. He described other relatives who worked in blue collar jobs and how they used their intelligence as well as their psychomotor skills in doing their jobs.
Staying with the American Scholar I next read “When the Light Goes On” in which Mike Rose describes his high school education, how a mix up had him in the vocational stream. Later he was transferred to the academic stream where he languished in mediocracy until he was inspired by his senior year English teacher. This reminded me of my own high school years where we streamed into arts/science, business or technical courses for four or for those going onto university five years. In Grade nine at the age of 13 or 14 we were supposed to have some idea of what career we wanted to pursue.
Next I read Sara Goldrick-Rab’s paper “Comments on Mike Rose’s Essay “Rethinking Remedial Education and the Academic-Vocational Divide” which prompted me to read Mike Rose himself “Rethinking Remedial Education and the Academic-Vocational Divide”.
So what did I get out of all this? Was I just surfing the web or did I actually have a learning experience? It made me consider something I have been witnessing for a long time in my industry that more and more of the cognitive work and planning is being taken out of the scope of blue collar workers at the point of production and is being managed by workers in the office. This is dangerous because it creates a disconnect which I have seen lead to many errors being made and much productive capacity being lost. It leads to a disengagement of the workers and lack of a team effort between white and blue collar workers in a company.
In my teaching practice I want to be able to not only teach my craft but to teach it in such a way that it engages my student’s imagination and inspires their intellectual appetites to learn more. I don’t want to turn out automatons who can perform tasks with machine like precision as they will soon be replaced by machines. Rather I want them to develop the critical thinking skills, to be life long learners and to have the ability to work as part of a team as these skills will always keep them on track and current in whatever career path they choose.