8 thoughts on “The “Networked” Student

  1. Dave Bircher

    Thx. a lot for this post. A very different approach we must take towards learning and the teacher is an integral part of this process. As educators, we must get up to speed and crate our own PLN’s first. I will use this video in my session with school admin’s at start up.

  2. Gerald Beuchelt

    Nice video that demonstrates how internet based media can embellish and enhance learning opportunities for advanced students. This is close to how many folks in knowledge-centric jobs work today.

    At the same time we should remember that a solid foundation of traditional knowledge (orthography, grammar, algebra, calculus, critical reasoning, etc.) must be available to students before they can even start to create their own blogs, evaluate sources for objectivity, or draw conclusions.

    The mastery of such foundational knowledge still requires a lot of repetitive practice and frequent exams. IMO, this is what primary and secondary education should be all about: laying a solid foundation for creative and critical education in tertiary institutions.

    As such, I can see that extra-curricular courses or some advanced classes in the later years of high school might want to apply “Connectivist” learning methods. However, especially our elementary and middle schools should not over-emphasize the use of media and social learning over the core requirements of building strong foundations in the core subject canon.

  3. Patrick Larkin

    I think we need to stop looking at technology as an add-on that comes after students gain a solid foundation. Internet based media now provides countless tools to help build that foundation of knowledge. Our schools (nationally) are places where students are compliant, but not engaged. There is not enough evidence of higher-level critical thinking and of students working collaboratively. While good pedagogy still ranks at the top of the priority list for our teachers, having many new tools to engage students in their learning is exciting.

    For example, my 9-year old has created her own blog even though she has not fully mastered grammar. She is so excited to write for a legitimate audience about real things that are happening in her life. I think we need to start running some workshops for parents to see the connections that can be made for their children.

    I remember someone saying recently that we have to prepare our students for their future and not our past. I agree and love the discussion that we all can share in thanks to the tools that are available to us.

  4. Gerald Beuchelt

    Patrick –

    I appreciate your thoughts and I applaud your daughter’s initiative to create her own blog. In fact, I think this is a great example on how the natural desire to experiment of children and young adults plays out well in extending the core, foundational curriculum. Adding these in after-school programs, workshops for students and/or parents, and other programs is definitively desirable.

    At the same time, internet media interaction can certainly not replace or substitute for a formal education of foundational knowledge. My job as scientist and engineer can never be performed with a cursory mathematics and science education: without arithmetic, there is no algebra and calculus. Without these there is no differential geometry and dynamic systems analysis. And without a solid toolbox of mathematical and engineering skills, there is no research or development.

    All of these tools are acquired by laborious study and highly repetitive practice, ultimately resulting in insight. Some prodigy students need less labor and repetition, but even these need to learn one step at a time.

    Internet media and collaborative learning may be useful to augment this learning process, but it can in no way replace the core requirements of study and practice.

    This obviously also applies to liberal arts: Anyone who learned a foreign language knows that without memorizing vocabulary and learning grammar, there cannot be any mastery of another language. Once a student is capable of basic understanding, collaborative learning takes over and can ultimately replace the more traditional learning styles.

    In my opinion, our schools should respect these logical steps: establish a solid foundation, challenge students to go beyond their comfort zone, and offer collaborative approaches to extend the core curriculum.

  5. Gerald Beuchelt

    Interestingly enough, here is an article on how a significant number of children view the internet and “modern” media: it’s an utility like the phone:


    While this is certainly only a single data point (with geographically limited relevance), it reflects some fundamental truth: the generation growing up with the internet and high connectivity does not see this as something special. It’s a tool – useful, but not interesting in itself.

    To me, the equivalent of internet-based learning and complete replacement of traditional curriculum and tools would be equivalent to the notion, that classrooms could be replaced by TV and video broadcasts.

    TV and video have their place in the modern classroom, just like internet access and the blackboard (!), pen and paper should have.

  6. Gerald Beuchelt

    Patrick –

    Again, I could not agree more with you on the relevance of social media in today’s business world. Without facebook/twitter/blogging/LinkedIn/XING/instant messenger/etc. I could not do my job – at all. And I do agree that educators should attempt to the best of their abilities to understand and harness the utility of these tools.

    At the same time, I do question the usefulness of social media to the average (or even above or below average) elementary or middle school student. While their natural interest will almost certainly take them to explore some aspects of social media (and this is good – don’t get me wrong), from my perspective it is more important at that age to emphasize foundational skills such as traditional grammar, orthography, math, etc. Once these basic skills are reasonably well established (as measured e.g. by MCAS scores of “Advanced” or maybe “Proficient”), social media may be a nice additional motivator to further their knowledge and skills.

    Once in the later year of High School, students will – given that they know e.g. how to write an essay – have no problems expressing their ideas in blogs, collaborate on wikis, or communicate through other means.



  7. Becky Goerend

    This is such a great video for people to see that tech is more than just a thing. So many people just talk about getting tech into kids’ hands, but they neglect that the TOP reason for this is to connect OUTSIDE the school walls. Many just see it as a fun place to make videos, not use paper, and maybe create a website. It can be so much more than that, and I think that is what many people are missing.


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