We know today’s students will have to create their jobs, not look for jobs. They will compete with others around the globe. They will have jobs replaced by outsourcing and technology if their skills are easily replicated or duplicated. To succeed, students will need creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
They will need to be able to adapt to change, be resilient and able to work effectively in a variety of environments.
The culmination of my quest for more powerful learning grounded in theory and research came when recently I conducted an experiment in pushing constructionism into the digital age.
Constructionism is based on two types of construction. First, it asserts that learning is an active process, in which people actively construct knowledge from their experience in the world. People don’t get ideas; they make them. This aspect of construction comes from the constructivist theory of knowledge development by Jean Piaget. To Piaget’s concept, Papert added another type of construction, arguing that people construct new knowledge with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personally meaningful products.
Imagine my surprise and joy when I realized that I had arrived at constructionism prior to knowing that such a theory even existed. I believe that thousands of other educators are unknowingly working within the constructionist paradigm as well. Although many within the Maker movement are aware that it has it’s roots in constructionism, the movement is gaining impressive momentum without the majority of Makers realizing that there is a strong theoretical foundation behind their work.
After I came to understand this connection between my practices and the supporting theoretical framework I was better able to focus and refine my practice. Even more importantly, I felt more confident and powerful in forging ahead with further experiments in the learning situations I design for my learners.
Rotana Ty shares a wonderful essay on collective learning for Permamarks blog. He has curated ideas by many thought leaders on the topic including Marcia Conner, Nilofer Merchant, John Hagel, Tiffany Shlain, Gideon Rosenblatt, J.
Author David Price writes: "If schools are coming into direct competition with the learning opportunities available in the informal social space, it has to be said that this is a pressure, which barely registers within the political discourse.
In the following pages, Price describes three cases across the globe — in London, Sydney, San Diego — that have mapped a vision that answers the questions above. Here’s what they have in common:
- By insisting that their teachers and mentors share their learning, all three have de-privatized teaching and learning.
- By opening up the commons, and by designing workspaces without walls, they have brought Edison’s ‘machine-shop culture’ into education.
- By bringing into the commons, experts, parents and investors, they have given an authenticity to the work of their students that is impossible to simulate in an enclosed classroom.
- By modelling collaborative working to their students they have fostered the peer learning which is at the heart of ‘open’.
- By emphasizing adult and real-world connections, they ensure that students are preparing for the world beyond school by being in that world.
- By making their expertise and intellectual property freely available, they have created high demand from their peers and ensured that knowledge travels fast.
- By seeing technology not simply as an aide to learning but as the imperative for change, they ensure that their programs are relevant to societal needs and societal shifts.
- By trusting in their staff and students, and by giving them freedom and responsibility in equal measure, they have fostered a culture of learning that rewards respectful challenge, shuns unnecessary deference, and therefore constantly stays in motion.
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