Can’t see the wood for the trees!

Well, we’re moving on to Week 2 and I haven’t even got ‘What is connectivism?’ sorted yet. I was beginning to despair but have just come across this – posted in one of the forums and probably elsewhere – An interview with George Siemens on Connectivism

So here are my notes and some questions:

The learning process is being changed by what we’re able to do with technology. We can create and share more. We can do this with people at a distance who we don’t meet. The starting point for learning is the connection – which opens the door – so the act of learning depends on the ability to navigate these networks. Our knowledge is networked. Technology opens the door further. Not much to argue with here.

Connectivism didn’t start from nothing, but is a natural progression from existing theories. Nor here.

In connectivism the emphasis is on the connection, either at conceptual level, neural level or social level.

Would it be fair to say that there seems to be a lot of emphasis on the social level?

So how do we use this theory in education?

1. We need to encourage openness – a capacity for communicating with others, a willingness to share and externalise ourselves. I don’t see this as being very different to the communities of practice ideas. What happens to introverts in connectivism?

2. We need to think of the act of learning as the formation of a connection and so encourage our students to see that

  • the world is highly complex and we don’t know the outcomes of learning
  • we need to be adaptive to stay current and informed
  • we need to give students links to networks and help them to navigate networks – this is probably harder than you would think
  • we need to help students become critical thinkers – an old chestnut and not easy
  • diversity of networks is needed and students need to learn what’s worth connecting to and what’s not – another tricky one
  • we should bring in experts from all round the world; use resources that have been created by others
  • the curriculum can’t be defined in advance; we don’t know what the students know and therefore we need a participatory pedagogy – negotiating the curriculum – the most interesting one for me and one that I have tried to implement in the past

The idea of a negotiated curriculum has around for a while, but the stumbling block in education is always assessment. Ultimately a lot of what is mentioned above is constrained by assessment.

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