The Networked Student

Edubloggercon yesterday was amazing, to say the least. Reconnecting with folks I hadn’t seen face-to-face in almost a year was wonderful and making first-time connections was priceless as well. You can see everything from the day including pictures, the Twitter feed and blog posts about the event by visiting the official Edubloggercon wiki.

If you haven’t seen the video that Wendy Drexler published about the Networked Student, please view it now. It’s excellent and was the catalyst for her session yesterday at Edubloggercon.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this concept of the Networked Student. It’s crystal clear in my head. But as I prepare for my presentations for NJEA this July, I’d like to be sure that I can express what is seems clear to me in a way that will make sense to classroom teachers. I’ll be talking with educators about shaping their classrooms and working with their students in our changing educational environment. We’ll be talking about 21st classrooms and what they look like. Perhaps we should begin with what a 21st century student looks like.

According to the video, the networked (or 21st Century student) should…

  • build their knowledge base
  • continually reflect
  • be portable
  • have access
  • share out

Keep in mind, if at this point you still have not watched the video, that it’s five minutes long and I just summarized it in five bullet points. So we could spend an hour talking about each of the points in the list. One of the points that we spent time discussing in the session yesterday was the fourth – having access. Is this wireless? Is this bandwidth? Is this two computers in the classroom versus a laptop cart on each floor in the building versus a 1:1 initiative? Don’t even get me started on the 1:1 initiatives (tablets versus netbooks versus Macs versus PCs).

So here are my take-aways  from the session:

  • students must have access in order for this to work
  • teachers must allow for self-directed learning. This is their learning environment – not ours.
  • students must be able to have some amount of power as this is NOT a passive learning environment – they must take ownership for their learning
  • it’s going to be messy – tough to organize – especially the first time

I think that we all know that change is hard. We also know that unless we commit to making change, it won’t happen. The fact is that there is uncertainty as to what jobs are coming down the pike. We don’t know what we are preparing our students for. So we need to create a model that they can carry into their adult lives.
I’m working on putting together some short video clips on what educators are doing in their 21st Century Learning classrooms. I talked with a college student, April, yesterday about how she felt that her high school, which she classified as a 21st Century Learning school, helped better prepare her for college. I almost jumped out of my chair in excitement when she explained to me how. If you want to know how, then — Please DM me on Twitter or find me at NECC and allow me to ask you a few questions about your classroom to share with educators in NJ. I’ll have my Digital Flip camera with me. Thanks in advance.

8 thoughts on “The Networked Student

  1. hbeezley says:

    Nice post! Does this make you an educational anarchist? ; )

    I very much agree with your take-aways. My guess is that the first order barrier is by far the most difficult hurdle as far $, but the most intractable problem is the second order stuff about convincing teachers that there is a better way and that they can relinquish some control in the learning process.

    1. I don’t think I can get away with the red bandanna 🙂

      I think that money will always be a hurdle. But with the right leadership, enthusiasm and modeling, perhaps we can get those teachers that need to relinquish some control to loosen the reigns. (Another session yesterday mentioned the whole don’t punish 100% of the teachers / students for what 5% of them will or won’t do.)

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. I definitely think that the larger challenge is getting teachers to relinquish control of their learning environments. While money will always be a stretch, with netbooks priced below $200 and with free tools constantly popping up on the internet horizon, access is slowly—but surely—becoming universal.

        What’s not universal is access to a teacher who will allow students to explore, rework, and refine their own knowledge and learning networks. Or school leaders that will allow teachers to drift that far away from the script!

        And as much as I’d like to believe that there is a revolution coming, I’m not sure I see the signs in the buildings where I’ve worked. The tension between producing results on the test and developing students who can think on their own is palpable, and producing test results takes the day 9 times out of 10.

        Do I sound like a pessimist?

        Or am I being a realist?

      2. Bill, I don’t think you are a pessimist. I actually think you are more of a realist. Though we want to be enthusiastic, sometimes we have to set attainable goals.

        Are we in an ed tech revolution? I don’t feel like I am. Though I like to feel like I’m headed, with many others, in the right direction.

        I appreciate your comments as sometimes we are all on the same page and very much are each others cheerleaders. It’s nice to step down from the cloud once in a while and take a reality check. Thanks!

  2. Great post Lisa. I totally agree with Hbeezley. In addition teachers must be open to learning from their students and not be threaten by them. We must model life long learning for our students. There is so much that our students can teach us.


  3. Lisa wrote:
    Are we in an ed tech revolution? I don’t feel like I am. Though I like to feel like I’m headed, with many others, in the right direction.

    That’s what I’ve got to keep reminding myself, Lisa—we ARE heading in the right direction and I DO see signs of progress all around me. We might not be moving as fast as I’d like to move, but there are reasons to optimistically believe that we’ll get to a point where we can be proud of the networked learning opportunities for the students in our schools.

    In the meantime, I’ll be thankful that I can learn from the brilliant communities of ed tech junkies that I’ve stumbled across online!

    Rock right on,

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