Serendipitous Teaching and Learning

I was reading student blog responses to Michael Wesch’s video A Vision of Students Today, and one student described her college experience as “not terrible but having a lot of incomplete pieces.” She wondered how she might be able fill that gap and included this image of an incomplete puzzle portrait. REALLY DEEP QUESTION RIGHT?

And while reading this post a tweet from David Kernohan popped up:

The comic is a remix of Neil Gaiman’s graduation speech to the University of the Arts class of 2012 delivered two weeks ago. Here’s the first frame of the comic:

You should definitely read the rest of the comic and watch Gaiman’s speech which asks you to respond to the stresses of life by making ‘Good Art.’ And if you believe anyone can be an artist, a good one mind you, then the answer is in being creative right? So I responded to the students post including this link and message.

How cool is that? Someone in England helped me respond to my student’s post. It’s as if David Kernohan were in the classroom helping me teach.

And how did David come to be in my classroom? He showed up serendipitously because I’ve been slowly building connections with peers through my blog and twitter account over the past year-and-a-half. These are connections that didn’t exist before, and the opportunity to learn, to reflect, and to share with them didn’t exist before.

George Siemens’ theory of connectivism might be useful to help me understand how this was possible:

The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

He describes how important it is to make connections within specialized communities and make sense of the information that comes out of them. My group of fellow learners happens to be crazy about communicating online via twitter and personal blogs, so I began to follow people and slowly found my way to join the conversation.

Finding that specialized community can take time, but you can look for bloggers and Tweeters of interest and see if they lead to other’s sharing resources. Hopefully over time, you will find a community out there that makes sense to you and you will find ways to engage it. You have to start somewhere!

So for your next blog post I want you to look for an entrance point to your own network of connections that might help you on your path to becoming a teacher. The entrance point could be a tweet, another blogger’s post, something that you believe might set you on your path.

I want you to describe how you found the post, tweet, or page and link to it. Describe why you’re interested in this piece of conversation and how you think it’s going to help you get started on building connections with peers.

4 thoughts on “Serendipitous Teaching and Learning

  1. I love the idea for tis assignment, and am impressed with the amount of conversation your students are having in this class already. Bridging them into the networked world is such a worthy and right thing to be doing.

    • The amount of conversation is partly due to the fact that the class is four hours and we’re in a computer lab, so I ask students to comment away as they trickle in the first 45 mins. It’s a wonderful warm-up, gets everyone locked in.

  2. @ Professor Smith
    So, if we finished the post for this yesterday, is there something that needs to be completed for today? =)
    Thanks!

  3. @ professor smith…with technology will this really keep people connected or isolated in their own internet worlds deteriorating away from interpersonal relationships and communications. I see where it helps connect ideas and thought with people all across the world you can be connected to via the internet but its a catch twenty two with blogs, internet, etc.

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