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Justin Chando By Justin Chando • June 9, 2015

The Value of Connection

This post was originally published on Medium.

I recently saw a post on Twitter about quiet classrooms not being the same as learning classrooms. The buzzing of students and teachers isn’t just noise; it signals that connections are being made. It was really eloquent.

Naturally, I had to take that thought and apply it to the digital frontier.

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What does a buzzing, connected class look like outside of course time and why is it so important that we push for the same noise level, so to speak, outside of the classroom as we do inside?

This led me to realize that I talk about classroom connectivity a lot. (Here. Also here. The list goes on.) I mean, I’ve high-fived teachers and students for creating an environment of 24/7 learning and asked how we help other classrooms foster that connected culture. And I know I’ve told my team that class connectivity is a guiding principle of what we do - we’re making tools for teachers and students to keep in touch, keep moving, and keep developing outside of class time. I clearly believe classroom connectivity is really, really important.

My instinct must be to promote these values because life doesn’t stop outside of class. Learning shouldn’t either.

What are the odds that your best, most provocative thought comes to you during a 42-minute class period? tweet-small Tweet this!

When great ideas/questions hit outside of the classroom, how do we harness them?

This is all why I want to explore connectivity more and poke at the idea of 24/7 learning.

First things first. The teachers who have kindly connected with me on this topic and shared their stories have assured me that 24/7 doesn’t mean students and teachers are always working. That’s crazytown. We’re human. No one can be at it all day.

What 24/7 means is that at any time, students and teachers have outlets to share and ask questions. Basically, you’re never learning alone. That’s the crux.

Having these tools - and using them - schools students in more than just the subject matter at hand. It’s a lesson in communication and responsible idea-sharing. It’s a model that values fact-finding, leaning on peers for support, and doing our very best work by harnessing our best ideas when they come to us. (Even if that’s late at night or super early in the morning. Throw it on a discussion thread or send it to a peer for feedback. Doesn’t matter that class was at 11:00 a.m.)

The principle of class connectivity acknowledges that expecting class time to be the most/only formative hours of a student’s life is unreasonable. It also accepts that students are learning from one another as well as their instructor and it’s on us to find thoughtful ways to grow all of these relationships.  

All this to say that the value of connectivity isn’t to burn out our classrooms. It’s not an all-call to keep working around the clock.

Connectivity is about reaching students when they are best able to learn - when they have their greatest ideas. tweet-small Tweet this!

I think it’s about finding ways to be there in those moments, encourage growth, and take advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to support development outside of class time.

So in the same way that it’s a good a idea to turn up the volume in our classrooms during the day - tucking away busy work in favor of activities that get students interacting and building relationships - we also need to keep this going externally. Keep buzzing after the bell rings. Find ways to share and to ask. Pump up the noise level of your learning.

C'mon. Let's be friends.