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Connective Learning and Development


I took part in an on-line connectivism conference recently. A session run by Will Richardson enabled me to make connections between connective teaching and the connective learning & development specialist. Although the contexts for Richardson’s thoughts were based on the educational sector, I believe that there are similarities with the corporate sector and our developing roles as learning & development specialists.

His key messages were;

  • Learning is changing.

  • The pace of change due to information available to us via the internet is overwhelming.

  • We are in disruptive times where we can now all become journalists (e.g. utube & blogging).

  • These changes are challenging traditionally held beliefs; for example we don’t have to be in a classroom to learn, and there are many more experts available to us who know far more than teachers.

  • We are moving towards ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning where learning is personal and focussed upon what an individual wants to learn, often based around content areas that individuals feel passionate about.

  • There is a generation of students who are involved in a variety of networks for pleasure and learning. Teachers can’t stop this and if they don’t offer what students want, they will go elsewhere.
  • Will Richardson suggests that the traditional teacher will become the ‘connective teacher’ of the future. It’s interesting to consider his thoughts in the context of the ‘Connective Learning & Development Professional’ who could be described in the following way:

  • A learner first.

  • Focused on how learning takes place and lifelong learning rather than curriculum & content.

  • A networked learner who creates & actively participates within their own on-line network.

  • A flexible learner who may follow an on-line journey randomly & haphazardly within their established network.

  • A reflective learner, who takes stock of their journey and works on recognition of patterns and how these can be synthesized into their own lives.

  • A connector of: students to students, students to experts, students to mentors, students to resources and students to local & global communities.
  • Richardson identifies obstacles in becoming a connective teacher, for example:

    - Fear of technology, change & transparency.

    - Being outside of the ‘content’ comfort zone.

    - Lack of time to reflect, collaborate, publish & participate in networks.

    - Lack of support.

    - Lack of knowledge & skills required to participate.

    It seems to me that as our profession embraces the digital age we will need to focus on the development of new skills including; the efficient gathering & processing of current & valid information and finding new ways of maintaining meaningful, professional on-line relationships and networks.

    To what degree should we be connective learning & development professionals

    To what extent should we be involved in social networking?

    How could we integrate these concepts into our programmes? In order to fully involve ourselves in the age of connectivity what new skills do we need to develop? What do you think?
    Lynn Wernham


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