Connected Learning: Improving LSL Outcomes, Part 2
By Hearing First Team November 11, 2015
Today’s digital tools provide significant connected learning and growth opportunities for LSL professionals and families. Learn how to embrace 21st century learning technology to improve LSL outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Last week, our blog discussed the benefit of being a Connected Learner — one who “collaborates online, uses social media to connect with others around the globe, engages in conversations in safe online spaces, and uses what they learn online in the places where they’re providing their services.” (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Connected Educator Toolkit)
We talked about the three facets of connected learning:
- A professional home
- A professional learning community
- A personal learning network
Most of us have some manner of a professional home, but many long for a learning community where they can connect with people facing similar challenges and working to solve similar problems. Understanding the concept of a personal learning network allows us to make better use of our current social connections as places and spaces for learning and sharing.
This week we want to talk a bit more about why we designed Hearing First around the concept of Connected Learning. Why not invest our time and energy in bricks and mortar? Why focus our efforts on a website and social platforms for engagement? Why build a community and learning experiences?
We have been influenced in part by the Connected Educator Month (CEM) initiative. Occurring yearly in October, the initiative networks educators and education stakeholders through connected professional learning experiences across the globe. The Connected Educator community has greatly helped us understand the tools and strategies at our disposal to help children who are deaf and hard of hearing reach their full potential.
As a parent, you may not think of yourself as an educator. In fact, you are your child’s first and best teacher. As a hearing loss professional, you may not see education as your primary space. In actuality, you are teaching children to listen and talk, and building capacity in their parents to steward their child toward the best possible outcomes. Thus, everyone in this community could benefit from Connected Learning.
People have always had learning networks—people from whom they learn and with whom they share. Traditionally those networks were small and limited by geography. Many families and professionals still struggle with feeling isolated if those in their area are not on the same journey. Today blogs and social network sites make it easier to connect with people around the world for learning and support. Digital media gives us the ability to acquire knowledge and collaborate with friends, family, and peers.
As great as digital tools may be, we hear four common challenges to becoming a Connected Educator:
- “I’m not social media savvy!”
This is a real issue. Unlike our kids, we are not born with smartphones in our hands! But in the same way that we embrace hearing technology, we need to understand and embrace the way technology can help us learn to do what we do better. Today, children are much more digitally literate, which means parents as well as hearing loss professionals need to improve their digital literacy. We want to teach parents and professionals how to get the most out of social networks and online communities. Next month our blog will feature specific tools that will teach you to share what you’re learning with your community.
- “I don’t have a big online network now.”
You don’t need to start with a large social network to become a Connected Learner. The Hearing First community will be an online learning community for hearing loss professionals and families of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. In addition to the community we hope you’ll find on this site in the weeks, months, and years to come, we’ll teach you how to grow your footprint in the conversation online.
- “There’s so much content online. It’s overwhelming!”
Personal Knowledge Mastery is an important principle in this day and age. It can feel like information is flooding in from all over. Be it books and blogs you’ve read or coming home from a conference with notes, handouts, and articles. There are strategies available to help you take in what’s most valuable, make decisions about which you want to apply, and release the rest.
- “I don’t have a lot of spare time to spend online.”
It’s funny to think that the same channels that bring you all those Candy Crush invitations may also bring “just in time” information you need to help your professional practice.
Many people think of social media as purely recreational — something to do in your “free time” — not as something that would actually help us see better outcomes in your work life. One of the biggest barriers to participating in a professional learning community is feeling like you don’t have time — when in fact you can structure your learning around tools that help you stay organized and focused. Making online connections and learning part of your work routine can actually help you achieve outcomes with great speed and success.
Just as we embrace 21st century hearing technology, we need to embrace the use of 21st century tools to help improve our professional practice. Stay tuned for training on how to do this at HearingFirst.org.