Mindfulness is the state of being aware in the present. Merriam Webster dictionary defines mindfulness not only as a mental state, but also a physical activity that requires the brain to observe and reflect on their surroundings that is nonjudgmental. Mindfulness in the context of Connected Learning becomes synonymous with metacognition, a learning technique that allows students to take control of their own learning by focusing on “sense making, self assessment, and reflection” (BBC: How People Learn). In other words while students are participating in the virtual world, they are also learning about how they are responding as individuals and in relation to the course. This definition primarily focuses on the role of the brainstormer, researcher, and analyzer that students self-appoint for each weekly reading assignment.
The Role of the Brainstormer
According to the course syllabus, the brainstormer position makes students “think out loud” by tweeting responses to passages, ideas, words using the hashtag #agnesconnected. In week two brainstormers had to tweet images in response to learning about the Elements and Principles of Design in Sturken and Cartright’s Practices of Looking reading assignment. Student Shaniece Wilson tweeted a mailbox image and used terminology related to the text such as “repetition”, and “lines”. This tweet perfectly displays mindfulness because
- Students are understanding the material and applying it to a social media platform to create digital literacy
- Twitter creates a place for future discussions that may or may not be used in Connected Learning, but outside of it.
- The act of tagging agnesconnected may be specifically for the Agnes Scott community but followers on a student’s Twitter account can also engage in the conversation, because Twitter is a public domain
The Role of the Researcher
In the course syllabus the researcher’s task has to select a name, word, concept phrase or reference in the reading to examine and write a response provided with links. In week seven, researchers had to select a concept from “What Facebook Owes to Journalism” by Steve Waldman. Student Alex Jester discusses her interest in the decline of news media and references “State of News Media 2016”. She ends her research synopsis with questions such as “do social networking sites suffice to cover local news and community?” Her research response displays mindfulness because
- Students are going beyond the text and consciously exploring what could be useful to your personal understanding
- Students are trying to find a concept that could be applied back to the reading
The Role of the Analyst
The course syllabus instructs the analyzer to select a particular portion of the reading that presents problems or complications and writing a summary about the student’s findings. In week seven, faculty member Chris Bishop discusses Mark Zuckerberg’s comment about the lack of social infrastructure in present. He references “Millennials Don’t Deserve NYC” from the New York Post and writes, “This takeaway encapsulates an important point, the replacement of traditional social infrastructure with forums such as Facebook and other social media outlets are certainly important in expanding our understanding of community. However, it may be just as important to look at how millennials are seeking to find space for themselves wherein being “alone” may be more fulfilling than being in a group, whether virtual or physical.” His analyst response displays mindfulness because
- Being an active reader by asking questions that could be useful for discussions in this class
- Forcing students to develop their own opinion about the work itself
In conclusion, all these roles make students consciously engage with learning and learning together on a digital platform.