There is a lot of research (from John Dewey onwards and probably even before) about the relationship between emotion and learning. The centrality of emotion to the process of learning is recognised. So it’s not surprising that so much emotion is evident in this course. What is surprising for me is the intensity of the emotion, far higher than I have ever experienced online before, and the amount of negative emotion – again much more than I have experienced before. I think there could be an interesting research study on the role of emotion in relation to learning in this course/network and why such intense emotions have been elicited.
Like some others I have been reading and watching activity in the forums. Keith Lyons has a great post on his blog – swimming with dolphins, sharks and dead people is such a good metaphor for what’s going on. The trouble is that when you’re all in the water together, its the sharks that you keep your eye on, because despite Stephen’s reassurance that blogs provide calmer, safer waters for swimming in, the sharks do make occasional forays into the blogs, where they can do a ‘hit and run’ more easily than in the forums.
To be honest, I haven’t been aware of many dolphins. It all feels very intense, both in the forums and in the blogs. Where are the laughs? I did mention in a previous post that I thought a ‘Help’ forum might be useful for the ‘technologically challenged’. Maybe we also need a ‘Cafe’ – a purely social space or something equivalent. But I suspect that a ‘Cafe’ or even a ‘Help’ forum is more of a course component than a network component.
This thinking about emotion and learning was prompted by Ailsa’s post. One of her sentences brought me up sharp – ‘Staying silent with bullies, condones the activity.’ From my teaching days I know how hard it is to deal with bullies – a veritable minefield. For a start it’s difficult to define ‘bullying’ – but given that I have been thinking a lot about issues such as Netiquette in relation to this course, Ailsa’s post made me think again about the responsibilities we have to each other in a learning network. Do we have any? Can this be overlooked in a network? It is certainly not normally overlooked in a course or in a community, where the role of emotion in learning and the relationship between learning and emotion and how they shape each other is acknowledged and resulting issues addressed.
My feeling is that it’s in these sorts of issues that connectivism differs from other theories of learning, but I need to do much more reading and thinking before I can articulate this clearly.