Learning Connections

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Considering Prensky’s explanation of digital natives and digital immigrants, we can understand better how people’s learning has evolved through times. Today, “Digital natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task” (Prensky, 2001, p. 3). On the opposite, digital immigrants had to learn how to use the new technology, to adapt to their environment. The “language” that those two groups will speak will be different, which can often cause clashes between the generations, particularly in the situation of a digital immigrant teaching digital natives.

As digital natives, we are born in that technological world; we are surrounded by the various networks in our lives. “By using these networks – of people, of technology, of social structures, of systems, of power grids, etc. – learning communities can share their ideas to others, thereby “cross-pollinating” the learning environment” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). In this environment, most of the activities we will engage in will bring us a certain learning experience. This is only possible due to the networks we are developing in all aspects of our lives. Learning is not coming anymore from one single opinion or vision, but from an analysis and comparison of opinions and perspectives that are made available to us by the technological tools we use all the time.

Looking at my network mind map, I would say that the networks that best facilitate my learning would be the networks where I can find additional information and different views / opinion, in order to trigger my cognitive learning. In my case, it will be the various blogs that I am reading. The magazine and journal articles are truly informative, but are not making me think enough to increase my learning.

Today, when I have a question to answer, I just take our smartphone out and use Google to find the answer. Depending on the field concerned, Google Scholar or other databases will be particularly useful for academic research. Both of those search options will guide us toward the most related blogs and websites. This will allow me, in a few minutes, to gather additional information about my question, review different opinions or answers, and make up my mind on my own understanding of the issue. The information gathered will help me find the answer to that question. In our fast changing environment, if I do the same research in a week, the information I will find might be different, thus changing my reflective process and maybe even the answer to the question. “Decision-making itself is a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow, due to the alterations in the information climate affecting the decision” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

This is the central idea of connectivism as Downes explains: « at its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks” (Downes, 2011). All of our networks will allow us to do so, from social medias like Facebook, to academic blogs that we are following.

Our world is changing every second, what is true now might be wrong in a few days. This “half-life of knowledge” is forcing us to adapt and follow the changing pace. We are only able to do so through our networks.

References

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Downes, S. (2001, January 5). ‘Connectivism’ and connective knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and connecti_b_804653.html

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

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