Antero Garcia is certainly an expert in many things, but his vast amount of knowledge on connected learning is absolutely fascinating. I wish that we had had more time to talk to Antero, his ideas are so useful and real. He has the experience, he has the knowledge, and he has the ability to translate it for those of use who are still learning how to teach. Antero’s ideas for incorporating student interest into the classroom through gaming and social media were very helpful. What i liked most about his ideas is how he focuses on bringing student interest into every aspect of the classroom. You can do this either by finding ways to make existing lessons/topics fit into activities or themes that are interesting to the kids, or by choosing themes/topics/activities that interest the kids and fitting those into your curriculum. One thing that Antero said that really stuck with me is that there is this false idea that fun and learning are two separate concepts, done at two separate times. You play a game, then you learn. Antero thinks that learning and fun are the same concept, learning is fun, therefore when teaching, it is our job as teachers to make sure that learning is fun.
I particularly liked Antero’s idea of using video gaming and games in general in the classroom. Whether it’s Minecraft, Dungeons and Dragons, alternate reality like Second Life, or other games, students will immediately become more interested and invested in the learning outcome. This is all part of Antero’s goal to meet students on their territory. Rather than inviting students or forcing them into your idea of what’s fun, meet the students in the middle or all the way on their side. To Antero, it’s all about connecting with students. And this means creating time for connecting in the classroom and out of the classroom. By using social media, online gaming, and other platforms, students can connect to each other and their work outside of the classroom. But just becuase students are “hooked up” doesn’t mean that face-face interaction isn’t extremely valuable, both for your students, and for yourself.
Most importantly Antero reminded me that the answers are not in the computer. Even Antero doesn’t have all the answers. The best thing you can do is to focus on and learn from your students. Googling “ways to connect with students” is much less effective than asking your own students what sorts of activities, ideas, and topics they would like to see in the classroom. Give your students a space where they feel comfortable, at home, and safe, that way when the learning gets hard, they have a home, a friend, and a mentor to turn to.