Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

In today’s society, many people use technology to communicate with each other through social networking for both business and for pleasure. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski (2007) suggest that in order for students “to be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit, today’s students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively”. During school, when students work together in cooperative groups, they will able to increase their learning (Pitler et al., 2007). Cooperative groups provide students with opportunities to practice their communication skills and expand their knowledge on how to collaborate and work together as a team to build meaningful artifacts that benefit everyone involved in the group. Furthermore, students can transfer what they’ve learned from working in cooperative groups to interacting in social networks business purposes once they have moved on to their workplace environment. Cooperative learning helps students successfully contextualize knowledge learned in school to real world situations and minimizes the idea of situated cognition in which students have inert knowledge (Orey, 2009).

In my second grade classroom, I try to use cooperative learning as much as possible. Students are placed in formal, informal and base groups depending on the type of activity and its purpose. Pitler et al. (2007) recommend various types of cooperative learning groups by giving students multimedia projects and web resources to use in order to create an artifact together as a group. Although some of the types of projects and web resources provided may be a little too advance for my students to work on, I do like the idea of using technological resources to help facilitate student learning, especially while working in cooperative groups. I have found first hand that when students are placed together in groups their learning increases and they are great at trying to help each other reach the same level of understanding as they have about a particular topic.

During cooperative learning, especially when technology is incorporated, I enjoy hearing students communicate with one another in a way that is very simplistic and childlike so that their peers can relate and gain a better understanding. Cooperative learning provides both high and low achievers a chance to grow and develop as learners because they both have opportunities to take the role of teacher and supporter (Orey, 2009). Therefore all learners, regardless of their level of understanding, can benefit from each other in significant ways when social learning is supported through cooperative grouping.

Orey, M. (Presenter). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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