Today’s goal is to make a global connection. These words are spoken, on a recorded YouTube video, by Shelly Terrell, the initiator of the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. Let’s listen in as Shelly quotes Socrates:
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”
So, to remove the suspense, let’s cut to the chase. What is it that Shelly is asking us to do? What’s the challenge?
We fast forward the video, to the 3:37 mark. Shelly is explaining what she wants to do.
Shelly Terrell: “What I want you to do, as a short-term goal, is to just see, how you can get your students to connect with other students, world-wide.”
Thomas: (stopping the video) (thinking aloud) OK, sounds good to me. I’m game. What are the rules, under what conditions does the connection take place? (I press “Play” again.)
Shelly: “It could be a one-time Skype conversation”.
Thomas: (thinking aloud) A one-off, no long-term committment, no huge investment in resources or time. This is definitely doable.
Shelly: “It could be any of the collaboration projects I list below (in the video) that already have things that you can do to participate. You don’t even have to have the internet necessarily.
Thomas: (the connectivist in me awakens) “What? No internet? Is she saying I can be a connectivist, making a global connection, and not use the internet? How do you mean that Shelly? (I press “Play again)
Shelly: “You can create videos, you can create digital stories in your home, then you can upload these on the internet.
Thomas: (pressing pause yet again) Hmmm. What she means is that I don’t need the internet, with a synchronous, real-time, right now, me-and-you-connected-in-this-moment, kind of connection. I make a video. Drop it off on YouTube. when you get ready to look at it, when it suits you, at some other time, you take a look at what I uploaded to You-Tube. OK, I got it. (pressing “Play” again)
Shelly: “…or, if you can’t do anything else, if you have no technology whatsoever, you still have pen-and-paper, and the kids can still send letters to each other.
Thomas: (thinking aloud) Interesting, very interesting. Connectivism, without the medium of technology. That’s a concept worth considering. Technology means speed. Without it, I’m slow. Snail-mail slow. So, how does that play out in a remote village on a mountain in Chile, where there’s a connectivist teacher (me), and no electricity?
My kids, all 45 of them, would write letters describing themselves, their village, their culture, their traditions, their dreams, hopes, aspirations, ambitions, likes, dislikes, etc. and then send it to another little boy or girl, millions of miles away.
2 months later, the postman stops by my school, with a huge bag of letters, 45 of them, one for each boy and girl in my class. The joy on their faces is almost indescribable. There are literally tears running down my face as I watch them reading the letters, sharing them with their classmates, talking about the letters, and then, rushing to their desks to respond to the letters.
So, I ask: Does connectivism require a computer, an internet connection?
There is only one answer possible. No.
The spirit of connectivism lies not in how the connection takes place, not in the speed of the connection, not even in the quality of the connection.
What matters more than anything, over everything, in my humble opinion, is its humanness.
Sitting here, in my comfortable home in Santiago, chile, fully connected, digitally, I come to the realization that at its heart, Connectivism is about people. People connected to people. Real people. That’s all it is, people. Connectivism is people, sharing, connecting, interacting, in any way they can, with or without internet.
Thank you Shelly, for this valuable lesson.
Oh, what am I going to do to fulfill the challenge?
I’m going to facilitate a connection, to a classmate of mine in Mexico. Her name is Veronica Vázquez Zentella, and she’s from Mexico. Incredibly, she is a blogger, and yesterday, she wrote a lovely blogpost called: “We Are All Connected”.
I invite you, all of you, the reader(s) of this post, to stop by Veronica’s blog, “Con sabor educativo”, read her lovely post, and leave her a comment on her blog, and thereby connecting with her, through me, and through shelly, who dreamed up this lovely challenge. OK?
Wonderful, then. Have a great day my friend(s),