Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Connections-based Learning in action

Learning begins with a good question.  Preferably one you have absolutely no answer for.

In Connections-based Learning, the process starts with a desire for students to seek out meaningful connections.  The first action is to ask a question that opens the door for those connections.  I wanted my students to learn about re-world electricity use, so I asked this:

Basically I asked: "With whom can you connect to learn or do something about electricity?"  I was shocked at how far my students would take this. . .all the way to Poland.


A Skype chat with an employee in a Polish electrical company where
we learned that 80% of Poland's electricity comes from fossil fuels
One group had a connection with someone who worked in the power industry in Poland.  A Skype chat was set up and the class not only learned about Poland's electricity situation but about Poland itself.  The real-world connection brings an understanding of what is going on currently, not what was happening at the time the information was written.  CBL also gives the students a chance to speak into another's situation.  Questions were posed as to what Poland's future plans were to get them to move to more renewable energy sources.  Our students got to share there concern about the environment and encourage the seeking out of better ways to produce electricity.

A depiction of a real-life BCHydro interview produced using IMovie
Connecting with experts is just one avenue students can take in their Connections-based Learning.  Another possibility is to work together to strive for real-world change.  In this particular activity we had students trying to hook up generator companies with homeless shelters.  We had students contacting Me to We and Clean Energy BC, hoping to have an influence on the building of more wind farms.

I love the creativity students use to share the story of their experience.  One group interviewed our own BCHydro producers of electricity.  They put together a mock up of the interview in an IMovie that they put on their blogs.  Another group shared their interview with a BCHydro employee in the context of developing a Power Outage Safety Kit.  In CBL, it is great to see what type of angle the students use to communicate their learning.  Not every organization responds, but the requirement is to tell the story around the connection.  What was learned through the process?


An interview with our principal on our school's
power conservation actions and hopes for the future

We also had students looking to our own school, wanting to ask what we were doing to steward our energy use and what the future holds for better school-based conservation.  These students interviewed our principal and shared school priorities for energy use, plus dreams for the future, including device charging stations hooked up to stationary bikes.

Connections-based learning is about sharing out our experiences.  This is often done through our digital portfolios.  One really cool thing that came from this #CBL was that one of the students wrote an article for the school newspaper on her #CBL experience.  You can find the article here.


Connections-based Learning prizes re-world connections.  Open the door wide to leverage those connections for learning. 

Then hang on.

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