A Learner's Journey

Connected to who, or what?


Having participated in two more ETMOOC sessions this week, the conversation has returned often to the notion of  ‘connected learning’. We have talked about Personal Learning Networks, the place of social media, how much sharing is too much and accountability vs responsibility.

There is another essential element in the connected learning framework and that is our own connection to the learning itself. We all know how our students respond when they are working on something they are interested in or love. They are engaged, motivated, eager to learn and intrinsically rewarded by the learning itself. I think it is the same with teachers and experienced this keenly in the last semester of my Masters last year.

I had two subjects to complete during Semester Two last year. One subject, Leadership Spirituality was one I was innately interested in and the other, Culture and Religion was the ‘lesser of two evils’ that I had to select from. Obviously, I was pre-disposed to enjoying the Leadership subject more but I did go into both with an open mind. 

The lecturer for Leadership Spirituality was engaging and very knowledgeable. She was able to get through an amazing amount of content in 4 days, exposing us to many aspects of the subject and coaxing us into wanting to find out more. The classes were very interactive and the cohort was lively and keen to participate and try out ideas. Both assignments allowed us to follow up on particular areas of interest within the subject and for one assignment, the format was completely open to negotiation (a first for the entire course – I did a blog post!)

The Culture and Religion subject was online and part of it involved posting ideas online. This was a task that had to be completed rather than one students seemed to enjoy. There was little interaction and no useful feedback at all from the lecturer (not classifying ‘good’ as useful). The material had the potential to be interesting, particularly in the area of delving into indigenous spirituality and what it contributes to Australia’s religious landscape but the readings were extremely academic and not very accessible. The assignments all revolved around responses to quote from the articles or books read and took the form of three essays and a powerpoint. 

You may be able to guess which subject I did better in? Of course it was Leadership Spirituality and I got a HD! Why … because I felt completely connected to the cohort of students, the lecturer and the subject material.

Connected learning is about PLN’s and twitter and MOOC’s, but is also about finding your interests and loves, and being given the opportunity to learn with and be challenged by others who share them. The beauty of this is that this form of learning can take you to places you never dreamed of …

How do we make space for our students to be connected learners?

Students from my class of 2012 working on their Author Studies – do we have to stop now?



  1. Great post Mary, I came into school today inspired to create more connectedness for my pupils. During the first lesson that I taught today I asked my 15 year old pupils to comment on each other’s blogs and I also made comments on their blogs. I hope this will make their blogging more meaningful and exciting for them as some of them didn’t really get the point and were struggling with blogging as was I. Thanks for commenting on my blog

    • Thanks Mairead.
      I think my biggest challenge this year is going to be finding the time for blogging with my students. We haven’t even started the school year and I already know how busy the weeks will be busy. Last year, I often included some aspect of blogging for homework which I found quite successful as the kids were keen and it kept the parents in the loop too about what we were doing.
      Look forward to continuing conversations!

  2. Fantastic post Mary, my experience during etmooc this week has solidified your ideas for me that students who are engaged are willing to try harder. An example is our blogs…prior to this course I had never blogged and if I didn’t want to share I probably would have given up fairly quickly on this endevour. However my desire to fully participate has caused me to tinker more and push harder.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Erin. I think the other interesting thing about engagement is that if you are fully engaged, the ‘results’ or mark doesn’t seem as important any more because you are intrinsically rewarded by the work you are doing. That’s how I felt at Uni anyway. It was nice to get a good mark, but not essential if I felt I had really learnt something.
      Keep going with your blogging. I am relatively new too but one step at a time..,

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