Learning in Open, Networked, and Participatory Communities

Teaching in ways that create open, networked, and participatory communities in our learning environments is essential in the 21st century classroom. Learning is about constructing knowledge as a community of learners, not about absorbing information from an all-knowing teacher. It is part of our job then to figure out how to capture the collaborative spirit that exists outside of the classroom and use it to construct knowledge and excite students to engage in passionate knowledge building.

How do we take the kind of collaboration that happens on the internet (ex. Participatory Community – NyanCat and community collaborations with zefrank – You’re Okay (Chillout) and 2601 People Wrote This Song) and make it happen in our learning environments?

Technology plays a huge role in making this happen. It allows connections to be made and collaborations to be created across the world. Technology creates a bridge that couldn’t otherwise exist. We can connect with people who have similar interests, people who can teach us things with their first hand knowledge, and so much more. In the classroom, learning can be enhanced by these connections. People engage in participatory internet-based extra-curricular projects simply because they want to. These projects are often skill and network building and passion-driven. So, we must utilize technology to its fullest in the classroom.

Opening the walls of the classroom is part of creating this type of learning environment. Learning shouldn’t feel like a burden, but a way of exploring things that we are curious about and an opportunity to work with others and learn collaboratively. Learning also shouldn’t end once the students leave the school. That’s where the technology helps continue connections and allows students to work on things that interest them, at times that work for them.

I think we also need to ask ourselves: what motivates us? I would say that school tries to motivate people with the use of grades, which I don’t think will help to promote open, collaborative, and participatory communities in our learning environments. Not that I’m saying the work won’t be assessed, rather that it won’t be the focus of the projects. The focus will be inner motivators that are unique to individual students. The starting place has to be one of motivation based on interest, passion, and curiosity. Consider and engage students in the process of choosing activities. The teacher should have a goal and a plan about where the lessons will take the students, but students should have an active role the process and a sense of responsibility for their learning.

Self direction, autonomy, personal interest, and inquiry based projects are my big ideas about engaging students so that we can create learning environments that encourage openness, networking and participation. Students will have choice and get to make decisions about the activities they learn things through and the projects they get involved in. There should be enough structure that students understand the ideas and goals of the learning material, but enough room to be creative and innovative. An example of this could be providing a chunk of time to work on their own projects, such as in genius hour. Other ways might be to integrate open collaborative projects into the class in other forms. The main idea is to get students excited and direct their learning.

I believe that some of the best things for learning are practices that already exist: freely on the internet and in large corporations. Constructive learning is necessary to expand learners’ thinking in ways that suite the world we live in, as well as create learning environments that give the message that everyone’s voice matters. I would love to hear more ideas on this subject. Thank you all.


Online Learning Project: Learning How to Draw

This is a starting point of my online learning project. I am learning how to draw by primarily using online resources. I’ve drawn a few smaller pieces before this to show where I am starting in my learning. Those images can be found here on my instagram account, which along with my twitter I will use to document and make notifications of my learning process.

The image seen below is a drawing I made while watching a video on how to draw a female face. The video goes step by step, starting with the shape of the head. This image is therefore an example of what I can draw while both using a visual reference and a step by step lesson on how to draw a portrait. My drawing ability is generally, even less without these extra resources. Eventually, I would like to be able to draw portraits without copying from a reference.

Why learn how to draw people? Drawing is a skill that I can constantly improve, I can learn new skills and learn to draw different things as well. I have always wanted to learn how to draw. I consider myself a creative person. Creating stories is a part of who I am and how I usually focus my creative energy. However, in addition to stories playing in my mind, I see vivid images of characters in those stories that I long to be able to draw in a way that brings them to life on paper in another medium other than words. I think that to have a still image to go with the stories I create would be very fulfilling. I am excited to begin this learning process and see where I can go.

There are many online resources, youtube being a great place to start, and I have found many playlists and drawing tutorials that will be helpful to me in my online learning project. I will also be using: twitter, intagram, youtube and my blog to demonstrate and document my learning. I plan to start with the basics, tackle smaller parts step by step, and work toward connecting what I learn into fuller portraits. As this is an online project, I am always happy to receive comments that can help my with my learning and suggested sources that can also help me.

A simple pencil portrait drawing


Exploring Feedly

A screen shot of my Feedly account, showing the sources I've found and subscribed to.

 Feedly is new for me, but in the short time I’ve been exploring it I’ve found it to be a great way to find some great articles. I’ve added blogs that are focused on education and technology. I found specific blogs by looking up blogs related to technology and education, but also by searching edtech. I looked through the results and read the description of the options that came up for each of my searches. I also considered the top articles as a reference of the kind of material that would be available. I wanted to find blogs/sources that would discuss technology in education and give information about available tech resources that would help me broaden my knowledge of technology. Additionally, I looked for basic education blogs, believing that since technology is an important topic there would be more for me to read about edtech in those blogs as well. Specifically, I have added the sources: Mindshift and Emerging Education Technology.

Mindshift, is a source I found in searching for blogs related to education. It says it is a blog about how we learn, which I think is important to understanding how technology can be helpful in our learning. I found that Mindshift showcased articles that had to do with different ways of learning and ways that technology can be used to change the ways people learn/ how we teach. One of the articles that I found in Mindshifts blog was about using mobile games to have students connect what they’re learning to their world and their lives. I shared this article on twitter as well. I have found that this source gives me new ideas that expand on the basic ways technology can be used in education.

Emerging Education Technology, is another source that I found using Feedly. I found this blog by looking for edtech blogs specifically. I followed it because it provided articles on ways to use many readily available technological tools. I think that this source is great for me as someone just getting used to technology. The ideas about integrating technology range in level of experience. For instance, there is an article about ten things you can do to make PowerPoint more interesting, which would be easy enough to do as a beginner with technology in the classroom. There was also an article about tools that help visually impaired students, which I think is great to have when considering differentiation and the inclusion of students, in this case with visual impairments, but also of students with many different needs. This source provides a lot of technology integration ideas that don’t seem too daunting for a beginner like me.

Overall, Feedly has helped me find articles that interest me more effectively. I like the idea of putting together a virtual book or magazine full of information and ideas that will help me as an educator in the 21st century. The more I learn the more I can consider how my classroom might look and the more tools I find that will prove helpful to me and my future students. Lastly, I would love to know if anyone has a recommendation from their own searches. Feel free to comment below any suggestions.

Introducing Myself to ECMP 355

Hello, I am Paige Mitchell. I am a third year education student. I am an English major and a mathematics minor. I decided to take ECMP 355, because I have been learning a lot about technology in the classroom and because it is a skill that I feel will greatly help me as an educator. I initially tried to take the class as a regular physical classroom, but was reassigned to the online class. Although I was nervous about it at first, I think it will help me get that much more comfortable with technology.

I am also a creative writer and perpetual knowledge seeker. I also love to share knowledge with people and help others learn and find things about learning that excite them. I believe that everyone has something that excites them and something that they might be skilled in or are simply extraordinarily passionate about. Education excites me, and you can read my current teaching philosophy here if you care to understand better my beliefs about teaching and learning. As a tutor, I learned about the people I tutored and tried to connect their learning to them and I also learned about myself. I learned even more about who I am as an educator and what I want to accomplish in my ECS 300 field experience, which I describe in greater detail, here.

My initial thoughts of using technology in the classroom are of interest in how I can learn to use technology as a tool that assists my teaching of various subject matter as well as student learning. There are so many programs and ways that technology can be used in the classroom that can really prove beneficial to learning. I also think that because we are teaching students who use technology in their daily life, and who will likely use it in their future careers, it is very important that they learn how to use technology in ways that are safe and productive. I am also interested in figuring out solutions to issues that can arise with the misuse of technology.

I suppose I will end by saying that I am just simply looking forward to learning in a different way than has been traditional to me and I really hope to be able to improve my skills so I can bring what I’ve learned into my teaching practice. I think it is important for me and my future students that I do.