I teach a course called Seminar I, in this course each student
must to work on a final project that could be his thesis.
This course is attractive to explore the use of connectivism in
higher education. Students work in a personal network
learning (PLN) and especially the use of personal blogs to describe their advances in research of their work. We use Facebook to stay as a group and share ideas and questions and try to promote on-line discussion on topics that the students write in discussion forums. Students also try to establish Internet connections
with nodes related to their projects, that is, they must join communities of interest and participate as far as possible in learning and discussion of issues related to their research.
These connections may be freely established on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Ning. Also in Blogs, Twitter, Slideshare, video sharing sites, images, audio, notes, and links to research centers, Universities, associations, journals and more. Each student writes his own internet links on a Wiki space pointing
resources and communities in which he participates, for example links toward blogs, twitter accounts, videos and more. The Wiki site serves as the heart of the course with links to all users and it is open to any person outside of the course to sign up and participate. (http://aprenderelfuturo.wikispaces.com/Participantes).
The student writes his activities on Facebook on a weekly basis to the objective that the teacher can follow his personal activities.
In the classroom we discuss problems encountered and
development challenges of the job. A key purpose in the face to face meeting is the presentation of progress and the discussion in group. The student shows his progress of what he has accomplished during each week and their classmates make several comments and questions.
At the end of the course and based on Wendy Drexler video called “The networked student”, every student makes a video summarizing their own work. Besides the above, each student learns how to use the Google Reader tool to keep track of his own connections to blogs and sites that enable RSS links.
We are learning to use a connectivist approach in higher education trying to apply the principles enunciated by
Stephen Downes to generate connective knowledge: Autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity / connectivity, both face to face in classrooms and online in Internet. However I can not take any satisfaction, students and their teachers (each student enrolls in five courses simultaneously) and educational practice on campus is the practice of obedience: the student obeys his teacher and each teacher obeys their academic authorities. Our education is reflected in the passivity of students, they obey orders and they work under pressure, the students work to approve exams and do not seem to have desire to learn. If there are not pression, the students do not work, if they are not pushed, do not investigate in Internet, if not apply evaluations, the students do not study. If I let the students be free, they forget of my course and then they work only in other courses where each teacher demands his students too much work, I try to motivate my students but the students do not assist to my face to face meetings, because they have nothing to say, they do little homework or nothing and are not convinced they have done well if the teacher do not reviews their work before they can explain to their classmates.
This has provoked a motivation to promote an activity that I call: “The networked teacher”. I encourage teachers from any level in education to work in Internet and to concede their students a partial control of their learning process to let his students can gain some freedom to exercise autonomy, diversity and openness in their training.
It is very difficult to convince a student that takes years and years exercising the passivity and an obedience training practice. And also teachers applying instructional attitudes and controlling all learning processes of their students.
What teaching alternatives should I consider for insist on the connectivist practice in the future?