Learners, like plants, have an unlimited potential to grow in their knowledge. They start small, as a seed and with a healthy environment provided to them by their teacher, their peers, and their own individual motivation, they will one day grow into a plant. In this post, I will be discussing what can be concluded from an article Digital Age Learning Theory and the following video on Human Nature and Learning. According to Siemens’s article on the digital age, “Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.” However, he also states that knowledge can have a “half life”. “The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete.” We learn constantly in every situation we are placed in, in our workplace, with our friends, in school obviously and when we make good or poor decisions, we learn from our mistakes. Therefore, we need to recognize that although our knowledge can and should continue to grow, it can also be lost should we neglect to further our knowledge. The types of environments that allow us to further our knowledge can be key to our continuous growth.
Why did I use a “weed” as a symbol for a learner? You may be wondering since weeds are generally thought of as negative and destructive. On the contrary, weeds can grow faster than many other plants and when left to grow, they really can gain grounds and conquer all other plants around them. Oftentimes, we don’t allow a weed to get that big, but if we did, I wonder how big it truly could grow. In addition, when weeds are combined with other weeds, the land around them could very well be dominated. Weeds love being around other weeds and they seem to become more powerful in quantity. Do you see where I’m going with this when compared to the learner? Learners have so much potential to grow when placed in an environment where they can grow and build off a combination of ideas. As this blog centers on the power of the internet in the classroom, let’s imagine these ideas to be found online. Where online? The possibilities are endless; we have blogs, facebook, twitter, pinterest…the list goes on. As stated in previous posts, a key element to the online world in expanding our knowledge is that any type of learner can flourish there. The timid weed who tends to remain planted on the outskirts of the garden may find his/her voice when only given the chance and replanted in a more relaxed setting where he/she can privately soak in the sun and drink in the rain. This “more relaxed setting” being the internet.
As stated several times by George Siemens’s video post, humans “need to externalize; we can’t really have meaningful private dialogue” without externalizing our thoughts. In order to “birth our thoughts”, we need to externalize them. What does this mean exactly? I personally interpret this as the fact that our human nature needs to have a place to express our inner thoughts and private speech that is outside of our verbal speech. Artists are perfect examples of this phenomenon. They express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas through their artwork. Learners need to express themselves outside of the classroom in a new environment, perhaps the internet? He also makes the point that “many individuals together can better foster ideas in an external fashion in order to create something more meaningful.” This statement connects nicely with my weed analogy. Together in abundance, learners, like weeds are more powerful and have more potential to create something beautiful.