Dave Cormier’s ideas

I’m still thinking about Dave Cormier’s ideas so I listened to his interview with George Siemens which I found on pageflakes http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/archives/003522.html (I do seem to be finding resources of interest, by chance!)

A couple of key points/questions came out of this interview for me.

The interview starts with a discussion about the distribution of knowledge across networks and how the traditional system of validating knowledge through peer-reviewed research articles and the like, is both too hierarchical and too slow in relation to how fast knowledge is growing and changing in today’s technologically advanced world. (DC did – at the end of the interview qualify this by saying that his article was focussed on knowledge about new technologies)

According to DC, although we can still have experts, people these days just can’t individually have the spread of knowledge that is needed, hence the need to be able access networks, scan the internet, read a lot, filter and assimiliate.

Whilst listening to him talking I found myself thinking about the age old tension between depth and breadth in learning. There’s no doubt that increased connectivity will enable increased breadth, but it seems to me that what experts have is also depth. A network seems to me a very flat structure. How is depth built into a network?

Later on in the interview Dave Cormier describes his taught course with no curriculum – again qualifying this by saying that his own curriculum/subject area lends itself to this sort of approach. What really interested me at this point was that he talked about community as a curriculum model.

Now to me, a community is something very different to a network. In the words of Etienne Wenger, ‘every community is a network, but not every network is a community’. In a community ‘there is a level of identification that goes beyond degrees of connectedness.’

As yet, I have not been able to see, feel or identify with a community on this course. I can see the network very clearly, but I don’t feel a sense of community. I suspect that Dave Cormier’s course was successful not because he exploited possibilities of networks and connectivity, but because he established a community.

6 thoughts on “Dave Cormier’s ideas

  1. Adrian Hill September 25, 2008 / 12:40 am

    Hi Jenny,

    Let me be the first to attempt to establish community with you in this course. I share similar sentiments to your own regarding there being a degree of difference between networks and community, in at least some case. I like the Wenger quote: very appropriate.

    I would suggest that depth appears in networks, at least in part, due to the richness and complexity of the connections that exist therein. The greater the connections in a network, the higher the likelihood that experts will be a present, and/or that the node (learning community) in question will be connected to other nodes, thereby strengthening connections not just within the node itself, but also in the extended network within which the node is situated.

    From within a connectivist framework, I believe that experts would be said to have depth due to their own connectedness: and this is not just in terms of human connections, but also in terms of “non-human appliances”; that is to say, information sources (digital or otherwise).


  2. dave cormier September 25, 2008 / 3:13 am

    Communities and networks are a point on which George and I (and Stephen and I for that matter) don’t necessarily see eye2eye. I think you’re exactly right. Community, from a learning standpoint, is key. I think there are a bunch of other reasons that community is important but my course was exactly about community as a way of learning. I see my work as definitely ‘connected’ to connectivism but there are a few issues like the one that you raise that seem to separate the two issues.

    thanks for you comments.


  3. jennymackness September 25, 2008 / 10:10 am

    Reply to Adrian – many thanks for your comments.

    I will have to think about them a bit more as they are very thought-provoking, but my immediate thought – (right off the top of my head, and I have to say that my head is hurting this week, with all these new ideas ;-)) – is that quantity does not necessarily equate with quality.

    I’ll have to think about this a bit more – read round a little – and then come back to it.

    Thanks again.


  4. jennymackness September 25, 2008 / 10:24 am

    Reply to Dave – I agree Dave that ‘connectiveness’ has a lot to ‘say’ to people thinking about how and why teaching and learning might need to change in the future.

    What I haven’t quite got my head around is what is really new in connectivism, other than what is afforded by the technology.

    It also seems to me that some critical aspects of teaching and learning, such as establishing a community, are not catered for by the connectivism model. An article that has had a lot of influence on my thinking about teaching in learning was one written by Soini and Flynn.

    In this article about critical learning incidents Soini and Flynn ( Soini H & Flynn M, 2005, Emotion and Rhythm in Critical Learning Incidents, Vol. 36/1-2, p.73-83, Interchange) identify six aspects of learning according to a research project in which 234 young people were asked to ‘give a concrete example of a situation in which you really learned something’. The results identified the following aspects together with (in brackets) the percentage of students who mentioned this aspect:

    Emotional significance (62%)
    Reflection (53%)
    Differing perspectives (42%)
    Collaboration (38%)
    Autonomy (33%)
    Dialogue (24%)

    Despite the fact that the article was written in 2005 and not in relation to advancing technologies, these six aspects still seem to me to be critical to effective learning.

    I think on this connectivism course we can see most of these elements to a greater or lesser degree, but I would suggest that collaboration is missing and also what Etienne Wenger refers to as mutual accountability.

  5. jennymackness September 27, 2008 / 8:30 pm

    Hi Mariis – thanks for visiting. I received notification of your comment by email, informing me that I had received a ‘pingback’. I’ve never heard this term before. What’s a pingback?


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