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Three Commitments of the Participatory Learner

Whether it's freshmen orientation at my school, or facilitating a session-build at an EdCamp, I try to deliver consistent messages about the kinds of commitments supportive of participatory learning. Based upon my experiences, modern learning is best savored when emphasizing these three participatory steps; connect, capture, and contribute.



CONNECT - Socially networked learning is becoming the norm in this age of ubiquitous connectivity, and unlimited access to information via the Internet. Connecting with other learners is becoming a life skill. Connecting and learning with others increases relevancy and promotes economic viability. The foundation of collaborative problem solving is established through relationships ignited by connection. Mobile devices and social media provide an unlimited capacity to connect and learn with, and from, others.

CAPTURE - The capacity to capture and document our experiences has never been greater. Most of us carry a device with more computing power than the Apollo 13 lunar module. Whether the intent is to consume or create, smart phones allow us to photograph, record audio, record video, and create messages with either touch or voice input. No matter where we are, we can capture our experiences in a variety of ways. These acquisitions, in many respects, tell our stories. Technology allows creative, and personal ways of capturing our experiences at a moment's notice.

CONTRIBUTE - The "share to" button is my favorite app feature. In addition to the unlimited capacity to capture information and experiences, we also have an unlimited capacity to share our learning with others. In real time, or following a period of processing and reflection, sharing our knowledge, and experiences contributes to the betterment of others. This sharing helps crystallizes our understanding while reinforcing existing nodes, or creating new nodes, of connected learning. Digital contribution honors our connections and reciprocates a modern learning cycle that is simultaneously personal and social, independent and interdependent.

Here's a practical application of these commitments. Yesterday, in celebration of Connected Educators Month, my friend and colleague, Jeff Stewart came to my office to interview me about being a connected educator. We became connected while taking in-district classes. We stay connected through social media, primarily Twitter. It was great catching up with him over this topic that I am passionate about.

Jeff wanted to capture our conversation, and his learning, by recording a podcast with an app called Spreaker. I was interested in learning more about podcasting from him. He was interested in my connecting strategies and purpose. A victory for both of us as we both captured key takeaways. 



First, we connected and set up our meeting through Twitter. Second, we captured our learning with the Notes app on my phone, and the Spreaker app on Jeff's iPad. Finally, following some reflection, we share what we learned in the form of our digital contributions. You can perpetuate and grow this learning by connecting with us, capturing something interesting, and making your own learning contributions. Learning isn't complicated, but it does take a commitment to participate in modern learning places.

Resources and References


What Happens When Teachers Connect - TeachThought, Terry Heick

What Connected Educators Do Differently - Todd Whitaker, Jimmy Casas, Jeff Zoul


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