Diving into a Sea of Content and Connections

The internet has always been about communication – communication of information and data – so in its earliest form there was content being communicated.  Over time, a mass of content grew as well as an ever increasing group of consumers.  Web 2.0 has moved the internet to become a mass of connections between people, groups and the content.  So at its core, the fundamental principle hasn’t changed, just who, what, how, how much, when and where.

I’ve realised I’ve stayed in the consumer role way too long.  I love getting lost in all the available content on the internet and this course feeds it well as I’ve been exposed to hundreds of new blogs alone in just this past week.  However, it is time to start connecting with the mass of content and its producers, and start making a mass of intentional connections both for my own development and for that of my students.  It’s time for me to remix and produce my own content and embrace the true potential of Web 2.0 and yes… become a PROSUMER.  Today is my first step by posting my thinking as unevolved as it may be.  Let’s see where it goes.

I must admit I’ve never heard of the term Prosumer before.  Turns out it is not so new.  I did some digging around and found a couple of explanations about this term and how it has been used in the past and now in the present.  I instantly started to think of prosumers I know.  People who, unlike me, are already prosumers.  Check out these inspiring prosumers Maya Penn and Sylvia – two girls who are creating new content and making connections with the world.

This leads me to reflect on my classroom practice; how much consumption is going on and how much production?  How intentional am I being in teaching my students the critical 21st Century Skills needed by the prosumer?  Even though I have all the tools around me to be a prosumer, I am truly a consumer and that may spill over to my students.  Well, I suspect that is about to change with the start of COETAIL.

One important aspect of education is communities.  With a simple definition “A group of people having common interests”  (Reach, 2010) it shouldn’t be hard to create communities.  The importance of communities in a digital setting is discussed in REACH (2010) as well as distinguishing communities with networks.  In addition to this course, my other major area of professional growth this year has been around building classroom/school community through the Responsive Classroom approach.  One of the four key domains is Positive Community – “Teachers nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotional safety so that students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers”. School-wide training has been completed and I have been intentionally incorporating the aspects and approaches to build a positive community.  I’ve watched the resulting benefits unfold.  Yes, building a community is extremely important and sets us all up for success as learners and people who share many hours together each day.  But I believe layering in digital communities needs the same level of intentional implementation.  As Jeff says in REACH, “We have been creating them since the beginning of time” and we will continue to do so in an ever changing digital learning space. In addition, in his talk “Community Trumps Content” Utech stresses that we “need to understand that it is communities and not content that changes learning”, and therefore “it is the  communities we need to be building in our schools”.

So I’ve formed a classroom community.  But how about networks?  These are the more specific groups with the characteristics of a group providing assistance and support to others.  Are there networks inside my classroom community?  Are there fluid groups interacting and providing support and assistance?  Yes, but did they form by themselves?  What role did I play?  Looking forward, I’m interesting to start talking about communities and networks within the classroom and beyond.  I think it is also important to think about what this means for different age groups.  Let’s talk about what a digital network means for 9/10 years olds and other age groups.

Me personally, I am a joiner of communities.  But my next steps are to reach out and become an active participant in a network in order to benefit from the “real learning and relationships” that comes from being part of a network.

Reference

Utecht, Jeff. (2010).  Reach:  Building Communities and Networks for Professional Development.  San Francisco, California.

Community Trumps Content:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8djV8slDN0

2 Replies to “Diving into a Sea of Content and Connections”

  1. Thanks for sharing that video. It absolutely highlights the fact that changes are, and must, be happening in education. Like you I teach elementary studetpnts no so, like you, I am interested in what this looks like for them and at what age this starts. He talks of the different generations and already I’m 2 generations behind! I’m intrigues as to where we are headed and I hope we can use this new community to consider the networks and learning theories for our young students.

  2. I think our classrooms have many networks. Students have “networks for friends” for sure. I think we just don’t talk about these networks and how they can support learning. A great example of this came from @chrissy classroom back when she was teaching 5th grade in Bangkok. I remember walking into her room and she had a chart on the wall of the different digital tools students felt they could help others with (Chrissy can explain what she did). But really what it was…..was a network. I’m working on this project and I need help who do I go to? Who has the skills to help me, do I know where to find them? All of that is learning to use your network. Whether they are classmates, colleagues or on Twitter. 🙂

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