Infographic: The tangential learning principle

These are two infographics I’m using in a presentation in a few days to Principals. The first represents the disruptive element (social) that has appeared in socially-connected learning. It’s the part which often is potentially a crack in the wall and may lead to tangential learning, or a crack that fuels intellectual and network lock-down as we struggle to answer questions based in fear, uncertainty and denial.

My presentation is not about that conflict, but to attempt to illustrate why students will spend as much time in online games and virtual spaces as the will in the K12 classroom, during the school career. The choice is pretty simple; either we choose to allow social-interplay into classrooms, and develop curricula founded on solid experiential learning principles, or isolate students from the potentially cataclysmic web.

Informally, our children are already exploring and trying to make sense of the world outside the window. At the same time, politicians are gearing up for further high stakes testing, standardised learning, back to basics (3Rs) and filtering – not just school (but everyone’s content).

Our children, in their school career will experience 10,000 hours of this, learning about a set of rules and future predictions that are not true anymore and ignore the tangential experiences afforded by web, game and mobile. The infographic below describes (as best it can) how I see the theories of Connectivism (Downes & Siemens) playing out in my childrens use of technology – daily.

I’ve invited my 9 year old along to demonstrate how this infographic relates to his use of MMOs – which I think is a model which can be applied equally to how I want him to learn at school (and out of it).

I have been at pains not to use edu–techno-babble, jargon, or to name specific technologies — as this further complicates the message.

What I am trying to demonstrate in the session is the way in which ‘social’ impacts school (like it or not) and to help those attending try to make sense of what they (and you) see as core, important and worthwhile – so that they can begin to formulate their own view and local community manifesto.

This infographic is very much the way I see the design of learning, though the principles and strategies embedded are far more complex.

It is how I learn, how I see my children learning – and how I am trying when possible to help other teachers develop their own classrooms in professional development.

If you have time, I’d welcome your feedback – to see if this infographic can be applied to your own learning – Does it work for your interests, even though yours may be tangential to mine?

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11 thoughts on “Infographic: The tangential learning principle

  1. Dean,
    I really like your thought processes and fully support the view about tangential learning. My own growth and development since joining Twitter is an example of the positive influence of social networks.
    In schools though, we are bound by mandatory requirements whether we like it or not (Tight). There will be a national curriculum and structures that come as a result of that. (Tight) And, there are blocks on many of the web, game and mobile applications to which you might refer. (Tight)
    It doesn’t matter what we think or believe, or what research or “real life” may state. We have to work within those constructs.
    What we CAN do though, is to consider what Mark Pesce said in a recent article, and that is to think of the national curriculum as the architecture of the network. We need (and I think morally obliged) to find ways of exploring that and making the learning digitally, and otherwise, relevant. We will need to be creative and really access and engage with what is available to us. For example, CS4 and soon to be CS5. How many teachers can truly say that technology is the basis, the foundation, the keystone to building learning within their own classrooms, let alone within the whole school environment? This is where the LOOSE lies and the creation of learning experiences that will truly empower learning for the future.
    That’s not to say that we abandon all argument for the inclusion of what you refer to as “social”. To do so would be to give up on the future of our students and children. But I think our stance must be tempered with how access to this technology supports and enhances what we have and are using, not replaces.
    I agree that there are many people who don’t understand the advantages of socila technology and that’s also part of the argument that we must consitently adopt. But we can’t offer it as the universal solution to enganement, to relevance, to meaning, to learning.
    I hope these comments are helpful as you consider your presentation to SWSR Principals. (Yep, I’m one of them. LOL)

    • I am not sure what Mark Pesche said – nor am I aware of him roadmapping or providing workable classroom strategies for teachers. He says impressive stuff, but unless that is mapped to any curriculum, the idea remains just that. I believe, and I would not bother otherwise, that the tools and potential that exists can meet the needs of the Nat.Curr – if a better roadmap is laid out – and teachers drop this idea that they have to learn new tools. What I want to do, as Stephen Heppell once said – is give teachers an extra-Friday; and immerse kids in meaningful work.

  2. Hi Jan and Dean

    I would have thought that research should make all the difference in the world to how education is delivered.

    Instead of accepting blocks on useful and creative tools and resources as a construct within which we HAVE to work — why not create environments at the institutional level where educators, IT support and administration negotiate and collaborate on bringing in more engaging tools?

    Then provide evidence-based arguments for change in tool-blocking policies at the jurisdictional levels?

    Technology changes too quickly and legislation changes too slowly to accept barriers and blocks as done deals.

    Unless educators and administrators push back against restraints and blocks of new and useful resources — school will continue to fall behind and become irrelevant to young people who have far more freedom and choice in the ways they learn outside of school walls than inside them.

  3. Dean,

    Fascinating post and visually-grabbing infographics. The 2nd one is particularly loaded and raised more questions for me than actually providing answers. (This is a good thing! It means it’s making me think!)

    I think learning is ultimately individual and social. In your graphic, is the individual represented by Cognition or is it World, as in personal world? Or is the individual the ‘grey circle’ and the 3 pink circles elements of an individual?

    What does “climates” mean?

    Does the ‘world’ under Capabilities have the same meaning as ‘world’ in the pink circle?

    I thought key to tangential learning is that it is contextualised (tangent/shoots off from an engaging context) yet there is no mention of ‘contexts’. Also, tangential may not necessarily be social. It may be I misunderstand tangential learning altogether! More thoughts in my blog post on tangential learning

    I love the following:
    – mention spaces in a generic way – it can be digital, virtual and/or real, peers, teachers, family – clarified to mean supporting learning
    – the 3 Rs of motivation; so true and so elusive especially in a maths class (I try)
    – social learning itself (our school gave a study skills handout to year 12s and of the 12 study tips, none were social. incredible!).

    • Climate – is the conditions that are created for learning. The world is a teacher – and the teacher is just one player. In the classroom – the teacher can create the climate using social spaces for learners – such as a wiki or a virtual world. Students are represented in the world – but at school are cognitive learners – the environment that is created allows student to participate in conversation, negotiation, shared experiences etc. What I believe is that the first diagram is no impossibly simplistic – and we cannot represent ‘school’ or formal learning in these terms. We can talk around it, filter it or even deny it – but the teacher is now as much a participant as everyone else. This is key to rethinking the role and value that a teacher plays in this connected world – teachers might well be renamed ‘curators’.

  4. Pingback: A Learning Paradigm Shift: Cybergogy — Janet Clarey

  5. Dean,
    Can I have permission to use your graphics (with credit, of course), in a presentation about Social Media in Education and PLCs that I’m giving in a few weeks to educators?
    ~ Elizabeth

  6. You’ve done a fabulous job illustrating this concept! If you don’t mind, i’d like to use your graphic also — with proper credit, of course!

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