Data was the key to the new path. Now that I’m deeply involved in data collection, I’m noticing many tiny, usually non-scripted, relationship-building aspects of the Elementary Connected Classrooms (ECC) lessons. For example, the very lessons themselves and the student/teacher interactions are often surrounded by a polite greeting, proper introductions and a former farewell at the end.
These relationship-building acts seem vital to maintaining those precious, and almost tenuous, relationships in the ECC. This notion of polite regards and etiquette, or in this case, often, netiquette, is sending me on a search for information on establishing relationships in cyberspace. I’m looking at age-old books on traditional manners and modern etiquette, hot to create strong online relationships in the business world and even marriage statistics from relationships that started online.
At one point last fall I wondered if I’d be able to connect to a new site of research beyond the field of education. I think this shift is just that. While there is research on student/teacher rapport, trust, and related topics, few of those papers and books deal with those topics in connection to teaching with new technologies. What seems fully natural to the tech-savvy students in my classroom, seems almost entirely non-existent in the academic world of older generations striving to keep up with the digital world of many children.
And while the new technology seems to be one important part of this inquiry, what I’m really looking at are the relationships made possible by that technology. I’ve returned once again to the same questions I’ve had since I wrote my MEd application over year ago: How do I teach through a camera? How do I simultaneously establish trust and maintain rapport through that lens and with students in my classroom? Do students learn differently in the Connected Classrooms? How? What is the same in both learning situations?
These questions are followed by more: what is the same and different about the relationship created by the technology? Are trust, authenticity and honest, ongoing communication just as important in maintaining that relationship? What else is needed to maintain a healthy learning relationship online? And what about all the student to student peer relationships forming? How does that impact the learning in all three classrooms?
It’s a long, winding path ahead, both literally and figuratively. I’ll keep wandering and wondering and, hopefully, come up with a few satisfying answers before the end of July.