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Making Great Connections through Production

NextThought team — October 31, 2018



One of the key learning and design principles of connected pedagogy is "production" — learners evolving through the process of constructing and creating knowledge within a network.

Learner production

Production allows learners to benefit from observation and peer input. It helps them grow through direct interactions with the nodes available in their learning network — both people and information stories.

Of course, talking about learner production and network connections is not the same as actually designing courses around it. When it comes to that, it's fun to let the work of others show the way. More specifically, I point to two of the best participatory ringmasters out there — Jim Groom and Laura Gibbs.

Digital storytelling

Jim is the mastermind behind ds106, and has reimagined learning as the product of digital storytelling. His courses focus on learning by doing and allow learners to expand their understanding according to their own interests. Laura has been perfecting her Mythology and Folklore course over the past decade and promotes learner engagement and connection through storybook projects.

When it comes to the topic of "great connections," it doesn't get much better than some of the work created by their students. Here are a few recent examples:

A number of things become apparent through reading these samples of learner production. First, these students aren't simply learning "about" things — they are actually learning through the process of "doing" them. In addition, the assignments from which their production originates allow for personal reflection and expression. Every learner in the network responds to the same prompts but generates uniquely individual creations . Finally, the learners are creating work that is necessarily designed to be shared, to connect them to others in their learning network.

Production-centered design

Looking at the learner-generated content in ds106 and Mythology and Folklore, I think there are three specific statements that can be made about production-centered design in connected learning environments.

  • Production must promote agency — Assignments must regard learners as individuals and independent agents within the learning process. They must be allowed enough autonomy to operate independently and explore with personal freedom.

  • Production must promote creativity — Creativity flows from an openness to personal reflection and expression, and a certain amount of flexibility regarding product output. The more constrained the activity the less likely it will lead to creative expression or increased engagement within the learner's network.

  • Production must be open-endedActivities must be open-ended and focus less on specific outcomes or competencies than on process. The goal is to empower learners to create real solutions to real problems.

What qualities do you associate with successful production in connected learning environments?

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NextThought team
NextThought team

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