The ‘how’ of connecting

I have been thinking quite a lot about the ‘how’ of connecting, rather than what connectivism means. I don’t really have any problems with accepting that knowledge is distributed across networks and that in order to access it we must learn to navigate the connections in the network.

The course so far would lead one to believe that in order to be well connected we all have to be very technologically aware, although George has said (it might have been Stephen) that we can be connected without technology. On this course, the list of places online that its possible to connect with people is quite extensive. I didn’t actually discover this list until last week, so apologies to Stephen and George for suggesting that a list was needed in my ‘Is this a course or something else post?’ .  (As an aside, I have always found it interesting in my own online teaching, that course participants don’t necessarily see the information you provide for them and here I have been doing the same thing!)

But What if learning technologists ruled the world?  This was a question recently raised by Prof Gilly Salmon.

I’m wondering about whether it’s necessary to be technically ‘on top’ to be well connected. I’m thinking about my 82 year old mother, who has never touched a computer in her life and who I consider to be a highly connected woman.

She has a life-time of connections behind her and now has a large number of ‘dead connections’ to quote Lisa Lane.

She has lived in and visited a number of countries in the world, so is globally connected, although she connects with these people mostly through her Christmas Card list which is about 10 times the size of mine.

She twice weekly plays golf and is connected with all the members of two golf clubs, and she also plays in invitation competitions in the south of the UK (she lives in Scotland) once a year.

She is a strong member of her church and is connected with all the parishioners.

She plays bridge once a week and is connected with all the bridge club players.

She walks her dog twice a day and connects with all the other dog walkers in the forest that is adjacent to her Scottish bungalow.

She ‘looks after’ her sister who is one year older than her, has Alzheimers and is in a home , so she is connected with many old folks in that home.

Finally she is connected with all her family, with my dead father’s family, in-laws (who are still alive) nieces, nephews and grandchildren and of course with me and my family. 

My mother is very well connected. In fact she is far better connected than me and it has nothing to do with a computer. It has to do with her as a person and her personality.

She is generous and open in spirit. When she moves house (which has done many times in her life), she doesn’t wait for people to connect with her, she invites them to her house and gives them a good meal and there’s always plenty to drink too! She is highly proactive. She is an avid letter writer. She goes out and joins clubs and makes friends. The last time she did this in a new environment she was over 70 years of age. She has lived in and visited many countries of the world and is tolerant of differences. She listens and tries to understand the younger generation.  She is always learning and exercises her body through golf and walking, and her mind through reading, bridge and doing crossword puzzles. She was brought up believing that ‘manners maketh man’ and would never knowingly be rude. She would never be a ‘troll’. A member of her community, who has since died, described my mother’s arrival into the area as being a ‘light in the darkness’.

Is this what connectivity means? Surely it must be more than computer connections. I wouldn’t talk to my mother about this course. She would think I was having a mental aberration!

10 thoughts on “The ‘how’ of connecting

  1. wlonline October 13, 2008 / 8:38 am

    Thanks for the post! While some may express a great deal of euphoria and warm fuzzy feelings about technologies,I agree there is life and great connections in the human society minus the technology!


  2. suifaijohnmak October 13, 2008 / 11:48 am

    Hi Jenny,
    I love your article, emotional, moving, and full of warmth. That’s why I prefer to talk to people, just like your mum, though I am much younger than her. Ommm.
    May be that’s the “human element” lacking in the e-connectivism, that human touch, which I think is most important for human.

    Remember that most of us love to learn – that passion is not derived from any technology, though technology is an enabler.

    I am more inclined to connect with others who share that passion, just like your mum and you.

    When I was young, at my early twenties, I worked with others as volunteers. We have about 60 plus volunteers, most of them in their late teens, high schools leavers eager to devote their efforts in contributing to society. I was the coordinator who coordinated 3-4 other volunteering associations. And we organised an event with 15 game stalls. I was even invited to the radio to talk about the event. It was a huge success. I also assisted the Community and Youth Office in running various programs for the poor (young kids). We conducted surveys on the family. Based on the information we collected, we ran cartoon show, visit to softdrink company, excursion and game stalls. Those were the days without computers.
    And we were able to connect with others with that spirit of compassion, enthusiasm.

    However, nowadays, we are using emails, blogs, and all the tools to commuicate, but we are pretty uncertain that we are even safe enough in this e-world.

    That’s why we need to seriously consider the impact of this technology on our spiritual and emotional growth and development, and not to neglect that a sense of concern is more than important than that professional touch.

    That’s how I feel.
    I really hope that this could be included in the course – the art of connectivism, how we could become a more compassionate person.

    Again thanks for inspiring me to write this response.

  3. jennymackness October 13, 2008 / 3:44 pm

    Thanks to all for the comments and links.

    John you mention ‘the art of connectivism’. I think in this you have explained what I was trying to get at. It seems to me that ‘making connections’ requires more than being technologically proficient, well-informed and intelligent. It is helped by certain personality traits. In my mother’s case, she is a great socialiser and is always pro-active in this. These traits greatly assist her in being effective in connecting with others and with seeking out information. She is never afraid to ask someone for help.

    So my post was prompted by wondering whether certain personality types will be more successful in making connections than others. Thinking about my mother helped me to think this through as I was able to remove having a computer as a factor.

  4. rheyden October 14, 2008 / 1:55 pm

    Excellent point, Jenny. Reading your post caused me to begin reflecting on the qualities of a connected person. Whether they’re connecting through online communities (as we are doing) or by letter or by walking the dog together, what is it that well connected people DO to make it work? And I just wrote a post about that ( – so thanks for sparking my thinking.

  5. ruthdemitroff October 15, 2008 / 1:52 am

    England and Scotland produced a lot of amazing women some of whom arrived in Canada as evacuated children or war brides. While they are highly connected, they are also very skillful and self-disciplined. They don’t connect out of neediness or to gain a personal advantage. They connect to pool their gifts and create the kind of society that better meets everyone needs. Women were crucial to the war effort and were also crucial to spreading British culture and standards throughout the commonwealth. They have the solid self esteem that comes from knowing the world is a better place because their actions made it more civil, more aesthetically appealing, less a wilderness.

  6. Doris Molero October 25, 2008 / 10:20 pm

    A warm hug to you all participants in this interesting discussion. Reading your words I came to realised that technology dispite being non human is bringing together all these interesting thoughts, conversations are going on from different cultures and different corners of the world, and I think that connections once made need nurturing and most of this nurturing comes from realizing that it doesn’t matter where you are, we are all the same.

    We are living the time when computers and internet are part of our live and we are using these tools to talk and connect to total strangers from different cultures, religions or political views but all that it’s set aside because we are united on wanting to learn and be part of the world we are living…

    Maybe in Europe is easier for people to travel the world and learn, meet and enjoy people but in countries like mine that’s not so easy. Technology and connecting the way we are doing now is something that I would have never dreamed of.

    Connections are made by humans throught technology and I agree that you don’t need to be an expert on handling computers since it’s becoming easier and easier to connect to the word and meet such wonderful and thoughtful people like you. I agree that connceting on line and exersing multicultural understanding makes us more compassionate and that’s what we need in the world today, specially in my country.

    Once again a warm hug from Venezuela and keep on shining Love and Peace. I really enjoyed reading your contributions to this enriching experience. Hope we can continue this enlighting conversations….


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