Connectivism: Connecting "v" to an ism.




creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by my_new_wintercoat:

The future – ohhh the future – where will we be?

– What will we do?

– What will schools look like?

– Will we even need them?

– Could I finally teach from home in a t shirt as I have always wanted to?

Education 201 – See What I did There?

We have to change don’t we? – he asked.  I just can’t even fathom not changing.  I look back at the last 6 years from whence I left the confines of my motherland and I really struggle to see myself in the classroom I left.  When I think about what the next 3 rooms I will be teaching in look like – I have no idea what they will look like and I am excited about that.

Photo Credit: Ethan Hein via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ethan Hein via Compfight cc


The Learning Network

I think that every classroom has its own learning network.  We teach our students how to negotiate the answers.  Teachers often have a reference board or maybe it is a 1:1 laptop, or even better the student who knows everything.  What is exciting about this is that there are multiple perspectives, and responses which in tune equates an interesting learning scenario.  Many teachers, often out of necessity have already instituted a social learning network in class.  Maybe you use, “Have you asked two other classmates for help yet?”

This year our Art Department has been using the work of Ron Berger and critical feedback as well as PQP (Praise, Question, Polish) critique formats to help our students develop their own voice when looking to improve one another’s work.  What we have found is that many great things are happening.

1. Teachers talk less

2. Students are getting more specific with their feedback then sometimes teachers are.

3. Students are forced to used specific vocabulary as a means of getting their points across.

4. Artists are starting to demand quality feedback about their work – because they recognize it is a safe place / activity.

5. There is a sense that collectively we can improve our art abilities.

Of course the last two are probably the most incredible, and I will admit it wanes at times but what I am getting from Middle School students is that they see the value in getting feedback towards helping them improve their craft.  What they also see is that I am not the only one who can give quality feedback.  The next step in a connectivist framework is of course to have students seek feedback from students outside their classroom – which is exactly what we did – we had students offering feedback between classes, grades, etc.  Our next step as a department – open it out further.  I am looking for an art class to partner with – I am hoping to develop a digital “art buddies”  scenario – where students can and will comment on one another’s artwork from another school.  Any one interested? Know any one who is, at your school?


What I especially love is when I show them that their artwork is part of my learning network.  In the past year and a half I will often ask students if they are willing to have their artwork be posted on my twitter account.  As Middle School students some have their own accounts, but I share with them that one of the ways I look to improve my teaching of Art is by using twitter to inform me of any new and exciting ideas, connect with other art teachers, and share their work.  Modelling this social behaviour is important as it helps to legitimize my claims about why we make art.

a) to say something about how we directly connect to the world we live in.

b) to impart a touch of ourselves upon others.

c) to keep our hands, and minds busy.


Don’t worry – a student already pointed out that “Woah ! Crazy good!” was not high quality feedback.

The Future is Pretty Soon

When searching about the future of education I came across this article from 2002 from James Levin, about the future of education in 2020.  What is crazy is that as I am reading this twelve year old paper, I am also downloading a copy of the NMC Horizon’s Report  about the next steps in tech education over a 1 – 5 year time span.  I loved reading through both of these documents one after another.  I found many more similarities than I thought I might.  Makerspaces, and networked learning are two that stick out in my mind and announces that perhaps the future will come early, as according to NMC both are well within the one year or less category.

15 Years From Now

I may not be teaching – but you can guarantee I will be learning.  My hope is that the world will need another gardener, and I will answer that call.



4 thoughts on “Connectivism: Connecting "v" to an ism.

    1. Alrighty Anne – Let’s do Grade 8 Art.

      Currently kids use Google Sites as an e – portfolio with some basic reflective pieces as well. They are currently using this for all their classes though so I kinda want to get them to make an individual Art portfolio to share with your students. Do you guys have sites? Should I make a spread sheet of students portfolios and then have a sharing set up?

      What do you think?


      1. Looks like a Course 5 project is already in the works. Nice job!

        There used to be a wiki for IBDP art students to post their work and receive feedback from students who were part of the network. The name escapes me at the moment, but I wonder if a similar setup would work for your students?


  1. Clint – and Anne – I think I am going to play around with Google Cultural Institute and how they are now offering options for artwork from artists outside of the incredible database they have already constructed.


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