Category: Hot Topics – Prior Weeks
Current understanding of pedagogy
Is networked learning additive & required to experience? How can risks associated with it be managed?
Campbell’s idea that networked learning is an essential part of experiential learning is alluring in the way that new ideas can be at first, before they are viewed under closer inspection. I wonder if he would publish this article today? If so, would he change anything? I read Campbell’s ideas through the lens of everything happening today – against the “truth isn’t truth” landscape. This backdrop involves a portion of the population that is weak in the digital literacy domain, which fundamentally undermines public discourse and governance. On the face, connected learning might help address this issue, but it also has the potential to worsen the divide.
From a background in public health, the concept of networked learning is both exciting and worrisome. On the positive side, learning the use of web-based tools for research and learning is important to being a professional that can find appropriate sources in digital published environments, connect to new ideas in a digestible format on Twitter, and locate contacts within the field for collaboration. On the flipside, learning using digital sources requires boundaries and methods to correct inaccuracies. Many years ago I completed an environmental health survey of programs for girl’s health. The internet is filled with programs that are evidenced based, robust, rigorous, efficient, and efficacious, but the dark side is that there are also programs that are none of these things and are based on outmoded ideas not fit for health interventions. Students and future professionals need to understand how to deal with information that falls into these different buckets, and especially for what to do with information that resides in a more gray area.
I also read Campbell from the perspective of a woman, which can be associated with negative experiences in networked spaces. How do we use networked learning safely balanced with teaching curiosity and empathy? When Campbell discusses how students can become alienated from their learning, does he not think connected learning could be alienating? How will information overload be addressed in this paradigm? There is research from VT faculty on this issue, which is one potential cause for concern with Campbell’s proposal if left un-considered.
Network learning makes sense as part of experiential learning for certain courses of study (media, communications, computer science), and future occupations (public affairs, software development), but I don’t agree that it’s necessary or beneficial for everyone. I would be greatly interested to see a study on the benefits of networked learning, traditional co-op, and blended options for a large student population to see if networked learning significantly added to the co-op model, or was even better than the co-op model for specific indicators of success.
I am more aligned with Campbell’s analysis of Kuh’s stances and the broader feelings within the field at that time: pragmatic, concerned with the applicability of education to the individual’s long-term success, and larger talent attraction and retention needs. The best way for many to learn is experiential, but the reason that many pursue higher education is associated with future earnings and stability.
At a time when students are taking on record debt to pursue education, the question of the value of the final degree is essential to one’s economic wellbeing. Millennials are buying houses at lower rates due to debt from school. This has long-term impacts on municipalities, regions, and the economy of the nation.