Week Two: Networking…Value Added


If I were asked to mentor a new teacher I would try to share with them the value of the connectivist approach, and hand the teacher a copy of Church’s “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy“.  The latter would help a teacher prepare for tomorrow’s lessons and the former would help make the new teacher an important cog in the school landscape.

As a teacher in the 21st century, the theory of “connectivisim” and the Church’s “Blooms Digital Taxonomy’ are two powerful tools for being a valuable member of a school (or really, any business).  In connectivism my value is based on the heft of my network.  Three of the characteristics of connectivisim are, one, there is more to know than we currently understand.  Two, my ability to see connections is a very important skill, and finally, I need to be able to evaluate the information that I encounter.  The more connections I have with other learners, the more brain power we all have to identify connections and the more valuable I become to my students and fellow teachers.  One of the first ideas in this reading to really grab me was, “chaos states that the meaning exists” (page 3), and it is up to us to see  those patterns.  We are explorers searching for meaning, and the more we work together, the more we come to understand.

Simulation of black holes merging.

Simulation of black holes merging.

The recent article about black holes and the gravitational waves they produce seems like an example of networked thinking and work.  Einstein speculated that black holes have gravitational forces and recently scientists were able to validate that concept. (I am on thin ice here.  I am a teacher of Minnesota history, and I don’t really know squat about science…Apologies to all members of the physical sciences here.)

In a more practical sense I can see that the better I am connected to specialized information about some aspect of teaching, the more valuable I am to my colleagues.  Even if I am just keeping up with some of the new tools to be used in English, science, or history — that is a huge help to my team.

In a similar vein, Church’s article about the digital taxonomy is an excellent mix of skills and tools that we as teachers can use to help our students be more complete learners.  The taxonomy is great to visit for two reasons.  First, it was a great reminder to look at what I am doing and see if I am spending all my time at the LOTS end (Lower Order Thinking Skills) or do I have enough HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills – page 4) to help challenge my students as we seek to learn about Minnesota history.  The second great part of Church’s article are all the great tools he lists to explore.  I found myself bouncing my palm off the old forehead when it came to basics like “Advanced Searches” on Google (pp. 23-28).  How could I have forgotten to go back over that before our recent research project.  I am also intrigued by Mindmeister (pp. 21-22) and I want to explore what kind of spread sheets of data we can generate, and what we will learn from looking at information from that angle.

I also read the Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project section about “Messing Around”.  This particular stage, while important, doesn’t grab me as much.  The first step, or friendship/social stage impressed me because I can see students needing to find their place in the world, and in this day and age, technology plays a huge part in that.  I can also see how the “Geeking Out” phase is critical because that is where kids are building expertise in an area that interests them.  What a great combination, and a great way to add value to your own tool box.  The “Messing Around” stage is that middle ground where students are exploring lots of areas and searching for the one that attracts them the most.

3 thoughts on “Week Two: Networking…Value Added

  1. Welcome! I agree that COETAIL has the best most easily understandable definition of connectivisim. Like you, I also learn best through communities. I have had several wonderful PD opportunities and gained great experience working with others versus working alone on a project. Even while trying to learn Spanish, I remember the conversational group activities I did versus the grammar workbooks I was expected to complete on my own.
    COETAIL will be my first time working with an online community that I have never met in person before! I tend to struggle with technology and have avoided it (other than basic tools and of course Facebook) so I have a lot to lean. I am very nervous about this journey through COETAIL, but I am also excited to work as a community and learn from others!

  2. Amber, Thank you for the comment. I have had a couple of classes from the U of Mn and it has worked out well, as long as I paid attention to expectations. I did miss some significant details once, and that was costly.

    I have been impressed with the wealth of information and the organization that has been presented so far. I think we are in good hands.


  3. Welcome to COETAIL and glad you are enjoying the journey so far!

    I love reading the Living and Learning with New Media and then going to school the next day and just watching the kids go about their day with technology. You can see these stages all around you. Whether it’s walking down the hall, at lunch or in a classroom. Now….we just need to apply these stages to our use of technology with students in a learning sense.


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