Hello there and welcome. In this short lesson with a very long title, we will take a look at the role of networked learning theories in the context of collaborative professional development plans. Let's get started.
A few weeks ago, something went wrong with my furnace, and I didn't have any hot water in my house. I immediately turned to the manual and then to YouTube. I was pretty sure I figured out what the problem was but wasn't 100% clear on how to fix it.
As luck would have it, the next day I was at school and I was talking to one of the maintenance guys who happens to be a plumber. I described the problem to him, and he knew exactly what it was that I was struggling with. He ran to his truck and pulled out a piece that I couldn't figure out how to remove and showed me how to do it and replace it. This story demonstrates the two main principles of situated learning that you will learn about later.
As you will see, the words used to describe networked learning theory carry somewhat different meanings today as they may have the 18th century when the notion was introduced or even 40 years ago, when Ivan Illich defined learning webs in the 1970s. Networked learning theory is defined as a process of developing and maintaining connections with people and information and communicating in such a way so as to support one another's learning.
According to Illich, it's all about the links people make in the learning in connecting or networking concepts. It has, of course, taken on an entire new turn since the advent of the internet and social networking. Today, the flag of networked learning is being carried by researchers such as Yochai Benkler, George Siemens, Starke-Meyerring, Duin, and Palvetzian.
Nevertheless, a constant in networked learning theory is that relationships matter and that learning takes place both in relation to others in a collaborative sense and in relation to learning resources, which are now readily available online. This makes it possible for collaborative professional development growth plans to create impactful and meaningful changes in one's teaching and learning.
For me, my personal journey to becoming a school administrator would not have happened had it not been for networked learning. I discovered a weekly educational chat on Twitter that expanded my professional network to include educational leaders across the country. That experience inspired me to pursue a degree in administrative leadership and ultimately landed me in the position I have today.
Next, we will take a look at situated learning theory, which can be traced to Lev Vygotsky in the early 1900s and later Jean Lave and Etienne Wegner in the early 1990s. Situated learning is another theory of knowledge acquisition in which students grow through social interaction and real-world application of the content, standards, and skills being learned. In other words, situated learning theory states that learning is a product of the context in which it occurs.
This is why many teachers try to create authentic learning experiences for their students, like service learning projects, for instance. Let's say you have a class of sixth graders who are interested in protecting a local bird species. They will have to learn about what it will take to do so. That's an example of situated learning. In this example, as with most situated learning, the social interaction, communication, and collaboration is essential to the success of the learning and leads to greater student understanding and achievement.
In 1989, Collins and Duguid took the notion of authentic learning even further and called it cognitive apprenticeship. They stated that a deeper understanding occurs by enabling students to acquire, develop, and use cognitive tools in authentic domain activity. Learning both outside and inside of school advances through collaborative social interaction and social construction of knowledge.
This is true for the adult learner as well. Think about how push in models of PD are working today. In many districts, a consultant teacher is hired to work in a classroom with a teacher and her students while other members of the staff observe and learn. It's not contrived at all, but rather a real teaching and learning situation with real students.
There are two main principles of situated learning, and I want to bring each one of them back to the hot water example. Knowledge needs to be presented in an authentic context. The plumber showed me the piece that I was struggling with. And having that in front of me helped me learn how to use it. And that learning requires social interaction and collaboration-- had I not stopped and talked to him about the problem, I would have never solved it.
So to recap-- in this lesson, we looked at learning for adults and children through the lens of networked learning theory and situated learning theory. And here is today's food for thought. Think of a lesson that you teach often. Is there a way to turn it into an authentic learning experience for your students?
Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be extremely helpful. In the section, you'll discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.
(00:13-00:50) No Hot Water
(00:51-01:40) Networked Learning Theory
(02:25-04:09) Situated Learning Theory
(04:34-05:11) Summary/Food For Thought
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