George has a great way of making what could be very confusing, easier to understand. He also manages to do this with concise papers. His Complexity, Chaos and Emergence paper is an example of this.
There is also an interesting post on Patrick McAndrew’s Padded Thoughts blog about chaos in relation to learning.
George has posted two questions in the Moodle Forum this week
- In what way is learning chaotic?
- In what way is learning complex?
He defines chaotic learning as learning that happens within a bounded and predictable frame. So if we think about teaching physics, for example – we know what is the curriculum and we know that the expected outcome is that people will, by the end of the course, have learned the content of the curriculum. But we cannot predict how people will learn this curriculum. So we know the big picture of the curriculum, but the learning processes that go on within the curriculum are unpredictable and chaotic.
In complex learning there is no agreement about what the big picture is. There might be several views of it, but no consensus. So in the case of the physics course, there is no agreed curriculum and no agreed outcomes. There can be many surprises and examples of emergent learning. However, this doesn’t mean that there can’t be an ordered investigation into the area of knowledge being studied.
Is this course chaotic or complex? I would say it is more complex than chaotic. We are not sure where we are going to end up, but we have a semi-organised way of discussing the content.
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George has posted a useful summary of the course so far http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/?p=173 in which he says ‘All learning begins with a connection’, which has prompted me to consider the reasons why and the circumstances under which it might not be possible to make connections.
Robin Heyden has a post on her blog Stepping Stones about the personal qualities that might be needed to make connections, which brings up the interesting consideration of the introvert, the ‘lurker’ and the shy person and whether this particular personality type makes fewer or less effective connections. I suspect that their strength might be in being the ‘weak ties’. We musn’t forget too that people can be making conceptual connections as opposed to social connections.
Of course as is pointed out in the Moodle thread – Do networks cause the end of geography? - huge numbers of people around the world do not even have electricity, so that in itself would prevent digital connections – although I think we have established that you do not need to be online to be connected.
Then there are the people with disabilities - physical, mental or social – that might prevent effective learning connections from being made.
I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog that emotion and an ability to understand norms might also affect a person’s ability to make connections.
I haven’t yet got my head round how identity is linked to the ability to make connections. If we assume that identity is both influenced by the network and in turn influences the network, then what is the effect on identity of not making connections?
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