Below are the questions I came up with when it came to myself as connected learner and designing for connected learning and equity.

10 Questions about myself as a Connected Learner:

  1. How can I show more buy-in to Connected Learning?
  2. How can I use Connected Learning to meet and share with others?
  3. How can I stay engaged and invested in Connected Learning after my courses have finished?
  4. How will I continue to adapt and growth as a Connected Learner in the future?
  5. How will I hold myself accountable for using Connected Learning to better my professional understandings?
  6. How will I hold myself accountable for using Connected Learning to better the understandings of my students?
  7. How will I share my Connected Learning understandings with my colleagues and within my professional circles?
  8. How can I connect my STEM knowledge and my Connected Learning knowledge together in a meaningful way?
  9. What does it look like for me to be a Connected Learner?
  10. How will I continually gauge and assess how I am progressing on the Connected Learning spectrum?

10 Questions about Connected Learning in The World (My Classroom):

  1. How can I use the concepts of Connected Learning in my classroom?
  2. What does it mean to be a Connected learner in the elementary setting?
  3. How can I use Connected Learning to assess the learning of my students?
  4. How can I assess how “connected” my students are? Am I assessing students based upon number of submissions or quality of submissions?
  5. How can I make connected learning more accessible for all students?
  6. How can I increase equity within connected learning in my classroom?
  7. How can I use Connected Learning as more than just a substitute for a current practice? How can I use Connected Learning to move up the SAMR model levels?
  8. What tools can I use to ensure that my students are using Connected Learning safely? How am I teaching students to be safe on the internet?
  9. How can I best prepare my students to learn online/on their own? What tools/strategies do I need to have in place so that students are able to access the curriculum through Connected Learning?
  10. How can I use Connected Learning efficiently in my classroom? (i.e. getting the most “bang for my buck”) How do I measure efficiency in Connected Learning?

After looking at these questions I decided to tackle two of them in terms of going deeper and trying to explore them.

  1. How can I connect my STEM knowledge and my Connected Learning knowledge together in a meaningful way?

As I work towards finishing up my Master’s in Education at Arcadia I am constantly looking for ways in which I can take the two parts of my Master’s program (STEM and Connected Learning) and blend them in a way that is successful. While it seems simple, that Connected Learning fits in with the T (technology) part of STEM, I am now realizing that Connected Learning is about more than just technology. Connected Learning is a new way of seeing teaching and learning for both myself and my students. I firmly believe that Connected Learning means connecting to people, resources and ideas that are larger than oneself and one’s personal network. STEM is all about making learning meaningful. What better way to integrate STEM and Connected Learning by realizing that I can use what I have learned from Connected Learning to actually make STEM more meaningful. Through Connected Learning I can access resources and ideas from around the world. I can meet and interact with others that can not only help me better my own teaching, but also show my students that the world outside the classroom is bigger than they could ever imagine. With the technology we now possess, I can use Connected Learning to create a classroom bigger than just my four walls. But connecting with other educators and other classrooms I can hopefully expand what my students are able to accomplish in the classroom and make their learning and audience for their learning more realistic and meaningful.

2. How can I increase equity within connected learning in my classroom?

This is a question that I am still grappling with on a regular basis in my classroom. I work in a district where many students have access to technology and devices, some even having multiple ways in which to engage in Connected Learning. However, there certainly are students that I teach who are not as fortunate. These are the students who would benefit the most from being connected to others, but often not having access to these technologies decreases their engagement in the curriculum rather than enhances it. As a district we do not have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy which I find is actually a good thing in terms of creating at least an appearance of equity within the classroom. Since no students are allowed to bring in their own devices and technology, no students who are disadvantaged feel left out as all students in my classroom have access within my classroom to the same technology. However, when it comes to situations at home, equity is certainly not the case. We have a program called “Dreambox” that my students use on a regular basis for online math learning. I love the program and see a great deal of value in it. The program is tailored to the needs of each student and truly individualizes their math curriculum. I love this concept and find that using Dreambox is a much more useful and meaningful use of time when it comes to practice than providing the same worksheet to each student. Therefore I would love to assign the program as homework a few nights a week (even one night a week would be great!). However I have three students who do not have access to the internet at home and therefore are unable to use the program outside of school. While I can certainly provide these few students hand written worksheets in which to practice from, that does not feel equitable to me. I have offered these students the opportunity to come in to school early and use the school computers to access the program but this also doesn’t feel equitable because now students are expected to spend more time in school than others. Also, these students often struggle to get to school early because they rely on school provided transportation (busses) so there is likely no one at home to be able to take them to school other than the bus. Some of my students have agreed to come in to my classroom right from the bus and use the program for the 15 minutes that students have to play around outside before the school day begins. While many of my students who do not have access to a computer/internet at home are happy to use this 15 minutes of time to complete their homework, I often feel bad because these students are giving up valuable social time (it’s almost like a morning recess) to come in and complete their work.

In the high school every student is given a laptop to use and home internet access for free (if they are unable to afford internet on their own) so the equity piece becomes a little less hard to manage. But as an elementary teacher I am still grappling with how to ensure that there is equity within my technology use. Perhaps I can partner with the local library that has computers and internet to see if there is a way that my students could be guaranteed time to use their facilities. While it would still require getting over the obstacle of getting my students to the local library (aside from walking themselves)  perhaps there is a way that I could make this work. I plan to talk to my district administration over the next few weeks to see if there might possibly be a solution to this problem so that equity is provided to all my students.

While it is clear that I have no immediate solution to the problem of equity in my classroom, it is certainly something that I would like to explore further throughout the semester!