College is not a stop along the path to adulthood and the workforce, it is a slow-down signal. College provides a time and a place for people to learn what they are passionate about and hone their abilities both socially and academically. However, we are not doing all that we can to further our efforts in education. Use this slow-down to get your feet wet in the workforce and get involved in the professional communities you are interested in.
The way in which we can get involved in the professional community is through connected learning.In order to advance in any educational career you have to be able to fluidly use technology. Because of this there is no way we can circumnavigate around a social media presence, and in turn create a more connected learning.
What is connected learning? Connected learning works to…
- Create an engaging format to create interactivity and self-expression
- Facilitate lifelong learning
- Provide a social support for students to learn and use information in their communities
- Builds an academic community that allows for growth of knowledge and a broader view of a subject
- Build connections with professionals you wouldn’t have acquired without technology
The most common form of connected learning in higher education is through social media and other online resources. Mackenzie Kennedy, a Junior at Plymouth State University said that, “connected learning uses technology to give students a way to interact with people within scholarly and professional communities. Online classes have developed my time management skills and made me more independent with my education. It has taught me so much about collaborating with others and using technology to effectively learn.”
Kelsey Dubia another Plymouth State student said that “as a commuter, connected learning has been a great asset for me. Having the liberty to take a couple classes that don’t involve you being on campus has saved me time and even money. I am able to continue to work at my job and also work on my schooling at my own time.”
This idea of online resources helping students further their education is an example of a pedagogy. A pedagogy is in definition the “how” of how a curriculum is being taught. For certain people like Mackenzie and Kelsey having online resources and networks they were able to gain an understanding of themselves as learners and provide a more flexible learning experience.
Online courses are not the only aspect of a more connected learning. Like mentioned above, being a part of social media plays an important role in setting a student up for success in the future and the now. Using social media to build an academic community is what can be called a Personal Learning Network (PLN).
Kelsey Dubia said in her brief interview said that, “having a PLN, I have been able to make connections with those throughout the country and world. By sharing and tweeting articles and quotes related to my major, I have gained followers from professionals in that field and have been able to use that as a resource.”
Along those lines, Mackenzie Kennedy said that “creating a PLN has been a one-of-a-kind experience. Before my PLN all I used twitter for was to retweet makeup tutorials and cat videos. Now I’ve discovered the academic side of twitter and its opened my eyes to a whole new way to learn. I can still watch my cat videos, but I can also read articles about the behavioral patterns of cats.”
But with all the greatness that comes with a more connected learning there are also some challenges. Overall there may be certain people that are uncomfortable with have an online footprint. Also, the pedagogy of an online class can be a challenge for those who need the face to face education with their professors.
College is not a one-size fits all. In creating a more online education where students can build communities with professors and other scholars we create a more personalized approach to learning and knowledge.