This morning I was lying in bed looking up at the ceiling, thinking about the learning landscape and how it’s changing. The thought didn’t just pop into my head out of nowhere but rather because I have a blog to write on the topic due next week. Perhaps it was because I had enjoyed many of the pleasures on offer at the Yokohama Oktoberfest the night before, whatever the case, I was making progress very very slowly. I got up and out of bed and dragged myself into the shower. Some people have argued that music enables complex circuits to form inside our brains causing us to think differently, others have argued that the Internet has the same effect, for me, it’s hot water – my best ideas always come to me in the shower. It came to me that to teach the next unit on computer systems to my grade 9’s, I could use the learning model which we are currently using in the COETAIL course I’m enrolled in. The model is “connectivist” in nature. We complete readings each week from various education websites and the blogosphere and then write a reflective post on our blogs loosely connected to what we have just read. We are also required to read and comment on each others’ blogs as well as share good readings we stumble across through social bookmarking tools. This learning model, I thought, could fit perfectly with this unit on computer systems that I need to teach as it’s a theory unit and, well, it just doesn’t feel right using worksheets in an IT class… AND because students learn new technologies like Google Reader, WordPress and Diigo and lay the groundwork for their own personal learning networks.
Before the end of this course, I’m required to share with my colleagues a unit plan that reflects on how my thoughts are changing in regards to student learning in the digital age. And, well, the other idea that came to me in the shower was that the plan I make for the unit on computer systems could be THIS unit plan. This new unit on computer systems that I have in my head is a strong reflection of how my thinking is changing.
Yesterday, when I started this post, I was concerned about whether my grade 9’s would be able to blog at all. Blogging is very open-ended and I wasn’t sure if my grade 9’s could deal with this. I was thinking they might need more structure, more guidance. Then, this morning, it came to me that we could use the essential questions and vocabulary of each lesson to serve this purpose. The essential questions will give them some idea of what they should be writing about and the essential vocabulary just let’s them know some of the words they should be using. Awesome.