Social Visions

I’m still pondering the idea of personal learning environments and technology. I’m supposed to come up with my vision for technology use in the classroom and the community, but I have to admit, I’m not sure that I have a one. The more I consider, the more I wonder exactly how useful technology is in sparking creative thought and curiosity.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an excellent tool for supporting creative thought, I just don’t think it generates it.  Here’s where I see the problem. The Internet is too vast, and the volume of information too broad to be of any value to someone looking to pick up a thread and follow it. Imagine trying to explore philosophy, or art, or any subject simply by using the Internet as your guide. Some information is limited, while other information appears in overabundance.

So what role does the Internet play in the pursuit of knowledge, and igniting the fires of curiosity? I think the answer is in social networking. It may be impossible to use the Internet to explore a new subject without some guidance, but with the help of social networks like Nings, Twitter, or Facebook, I can find resources that will steer me in a direction. And from that direction I can pick up a thread and follow it until I am satisfied, or the resource is exhausted.

I guess I do have a vision for technology use in the classroom and beyond after all. To teach my students how to find the resources that will help them explore their interests. To take the haystack of information and remove it to reveal the needle hidden within. I can do this by sharing with them how to use social networks as a resource rather than just a place to connect with friends. I can introduce them to ideas and then provide them with opportunities to explore these ideas and come back with resources to share with others. Most importantly, I can teach them to be responsible, critical users of information, to recognize propaganda and bias, and to draw their own conclusions rather than to rely on the conclusions of others. If I can do this, I have prepared them to be lifelong learners and to establish their own personal learning environment.

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