The human element was essential then, as it is today.
Now, imagine a personal learning network for today’s children. One in which they can include all of those people who helped us learn and grow, but expand it – and their learning – with another addition: The World.
Will Richardson often describes the power of the Internet and a device in expanding the personal learning network for today’s youth. Like Richardson, I believe that technology has opened the doors to our youth to unparalleled personal learning resources that provide real world, real life information to make learning more meaningful.
Imagine a world where our youngest learners are expected to build a personal learning network starting in kindergarten:
· Post work twice a day they complete,
· Contribute to the class Twitter account or blog,
· Evaluate their work for what is the best and meets the standard,
· Expect feedback from others,
· Expect to provide feedback to others.
By the time they reach the intermediate grades, our learners are reaching out to NASA and local businesses to gather information and assistance in completing projects. In middle school and high school, our learners are rethinking traditional classes and connecting with those outside our four walls to provide meaning, relevance, and context to assignments.
For many, the suggestion that our youngest learners begin to create a social/digital footprint is scary. There are many things to be wary of on the Internet. But pretending you can shelter your child, our learner, from them is a false notion and not an approach we, as educators or parents/guardians, have taken when it comes to other areas.
Consider how we approach water safety/swimming with elementary children … ensuring they learn how to enjoy the pleasure of time spent in pools while keeping themselves safe and acting responsible. What about young drivers? We teach driver’s education, where we prepare our learners with safety tips and resources before we empower them to travel the road behind the wheel.
Wishing away a personal learning network, the Internet or devices won’t make it so.
We do not deny our children the ability to swim or drive because we are afraid of the risks. We acknowledge the risks and teach them how to best navigate the water and the road. We need to apply this same approach when it comes to our learners using technology and exploring the World online.
Helping children responsibly create a personal learning network and navigate their online world is a life skill that educators and parents/guardians alike have a duty to teach and nurture now.