Networked and Global Learning is not exactly a new idea. In 1924, French teacher Célestin Freinet and a colleague launched their own version of NGL, using mail carriers to share information and interesting local artefacts about their communities, and exchanging toys, shells and stories written by their students. This endeavour evolved and adapted as the French postal system evolved to keep up with modern technologies, and by the time of Freinet’s death in 1966, has grown to include over 10,000 schools and 33 nations.
This early years of Networked and Global Learning was filled with wonder and anticipation as participants in the exchange waited for their packages. Students learned from each others’ experiences, and I’m sure many long-term friendships were formed as questions were asked, and answers were written in return.
Forwarding a good half-a-century in time, and we are spoiled for choice when it comes to Networked and Global Learning. We do not have to wait for mail as email happens instantaneous. Physical mail seems to bring only advertising material and electrical bills. Surely I’m not the only one that feels nostalgic when thinking of handwritten letters? Célestin Freinet most probably would have loved to swap places with me if he knew how efficient modern day technology has made collaboration!
One thing however has not changed over time. To quote Al Rogers (1999):
“The true power of what we do in our classrooms depends less on technology, and more on what we do with the technology we have”
This short video called The Networked Student perfectly sums up 21st century learning. Our network is connected within multiple networks. My fellow student Nikki describes our small class of NGL researchers as bound by the common interest in that we all are striving to finish our degrees, even though our professions differ, and we’re doing it virtually. Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, I can write this post, research the ‘how to’ of 3D virtual learning environments, browse my Google+ communities, and order from Pizza Capers at the same time. Not pizza this time, but ‘classic bolognese pasta’ .. which I’m sure the recipe was obtained from somewhere on the net?
As a student of NGL, I have experienced first-hand the interaction and collaboration that can occur within communities of learning. We often have different ideas and interests but we also have in common a love of learning. Whether that is in our professions as teachers and librarians or learners of a new endeavour, we do seek to build a knowledge sharing/exchanging network that we can call upon when needed.
How does me the student of NGL make sense of my learning journey, and my role as teacher – or rather educator in this instance since I’m a librarian? By building trust. I cannot impart my learnt knowledge and experiences on an uninterested audience with success. Think of the difference between hearing and listening. If your audience (students) does not trust your insight/knowledge, they will hear what you are saying but chances are slim that they will be listening – and in my opinion, listening is where a love for life-long learning is build.
I leave you with this thought by Goodyear (2014) –
“Trust can be infectious within networks. People are more likely to trust friends of friends than random individuals”.
Featured image obtained from http://all-free-download.com