After reading a few sections of the PBL Starter Kit – Buck Institute for Education – I can’t help but notice how a project could help students begin to explore what it means to create a learning network of their own!
By using the format of PBL and technology, students can begin playing with bookmarking and sharing valuable websites, blogs, wiki spaces and videos with classmates while researching a relevant question pertaining to the studies of a particular class. The best part of this is that students will have the guidance and support of their teachers and classmates as they embark on such a journey. Questions may come up with technology or the content at hand and the support of friends and teachers will be there while learning digitally. The support could be enhanced if partners and small groups were created while completing a project. This way, students help one another and guide each other deeper into technology and the research. The process is immersed in positive collaboration and exploration on a semi-independent level. The scaffold for technology use would be the collaboration of a small groups or partners and the presence of a teacher.
One thing I have learned about technology is that I have to be playful with it and proceed as if the computer were a playground of discovery. In order to navigate my way, I must learn to play at digital learning. The more I play around with different apps, sites, and other digital offerings, the more I gain confidence and an understanding for how things work on a digital level. The book, The global achievement gap: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need–and what we can do about it, by Tony Wagner (2008), highlights the difference between my generation as learners and the students of today as learners. Wagner (2008)points out that my generation tends to want to know how something works before we play with it; where students today want nothing to do with manuals and instead, “They want to get in there, muck around, and see what works. Today’s kids get on the Web and link, lurk, and watch how other people are doing things, then try it for themselves” (p. 181). The fact is that learning is becoming more digitally and discovery-based. If I can teach students the benefit learning with technology as a resource and PBL as our guide, I can in turn, help students to begin the journey of creating their own PLN! Although some classroom, content topics may not be what students would independently gravitate towards, they are getting the feel for developing a digital footprint that enables them to learn without the teacher, classroom and school! I am very excited to continue along this journey!