The Networked Student

Most students have used some kind of technology by the time they have entered school. At every grade level, students will have a varied set of skills related to using technology for learning, which makes it tough for teachers to be adequately prepared to deal with them. Experiences might include things like playing games on the computer, doing Internet research for projects,  and using a word processor, spreadsheet or presentation software to complete an assignment.

The networked student takes things a big step beyond this and relies on interactions with people to learn. The network student is developing a learning community that does not rely on proximity, but rather on a shared interest. Their community might include classmates, but it will also include people from others schools, other towns and cities, and practically any place on the globe. It may even include people who have no public credentials and people they have never met. The networked student does things such as writing emails, reading, writing, and commenting on blog posts, sharing resources through social bookmarking, sharing photos and videos, participating in a social network like Facebook, and creating and viewing podcasts. These types of activities are done pretty much anywhere and anytime that they have a moment and are called “asynchronous activities.” Their network also involves synchronous activities that give them immediate feedback and answers, and allows for real-time collaboration. Most students beyond the primary grades that can get anywhere near a cellphone or a computer, know how to reach their community through text messaging and text, audio, and video chat.

Wendy and Alex Drexler, who participated in a course on connectivism that was facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, created a video that describes the networked student well.