The Missing Literacies – Networking to Learn
Kids sitting in rows of desk. Silent classrooms. Individual worksheets. This is not how we learn in the real world. It was my experience in school, as it still is for many. But I went to school BT (Before Twitter) and BGHO (Before Google Hangouts). The extent of networking to learn, if we were lucky, was putting four desks together and working in groups. And if you asked a peer a question during a test or worked on a homework problem in a group and came back with the same answer, watch out!
In college, some of my best learning experiences were working on group projects. We also used study groups to self organize around a specific course, topic or test. Both those group learning experiences were constrained by proximity and time. Enter Twitter and the rise of social media. Have you checked out an #caedchat lately?
Networking tools like twitter and Google Hangouts (GHO) now allow the formation of groups of peers and experts to assemble around themes, topics and interests. These groups (or Personal Learning Networks) allow for just in time information requests, asynchronous collaboration and archived knowledge bases. If Google is the card catalog for the world’s information, then twitter and GHO are the university hallways and the study halls that make global personal learning networks possible.
The world has changed. If we do not teach children how to build online networks to access learning resources, then we are failing to empower them as learners. If we don’t embrace technology to build personal networks of our own for learning, then we risk being left behind in a world of ubiquitous access to information and just in time learning.
Why then do we not move into an era of learning to network and networking to learn? Why do we not teach building personal learning networks as a fundamental literacy of learning?