Sunday, 30 January 2011

chess and connectivism - does it work for me?

Just reflecting on some of the readings and posts over this last week or so. 
The analogy of patterns in a chess game for the learning inherent in networks got me thinking  a bit clearer about it and gave me a lightbulb moment for five minutes or so.

Though still a doubting Tomas as to how *real* it all is, I find I'm pushing myself to be a bit more open minded and accepting, helped by a friend commenting "...looks like an interesting concept, but isn't it just Wikipedia!...".

I remember having some interesting discussions when I first came across the term pedagogy, then andragogy, constructivism and so on and the different opinions that came out about the need to structure learning. 

From outside looking in, the primary concerns seemed to be how it would work for the institution and controlling learning and students. With a bit of time and study I now feel a little less perplexed as I understand why the industry needs to be able to ensure students meet set markers, that there is consistency, that there is a structure of sorts. They are after all is said and done, working with limited resources to a finite time scale and employers want guarantees that all the graduates they take on have a similar knowledge base. 

It was the heat in some of the discussions that I remember, and it's the new paradigm issue. 

I read some work by Richard L. Daft which defined a new paradigm in leadership and the shift needed. My initial reaction was negative, I read the new paradigm and recognised elements of previous 'new' paradigms in there, and it wasn't until I really got thinking about paradigms that I started to accept that maybe he'd got a point! Now I'm faced with another paradigm that takes some of the debate around VLEs vs PLEs, the manner of structuring learning to fit pedagological principles and so on to a logical conclusion. And how did I find this? Browsing my usual suspects, I find Zaid Ali Alsagoff is not only on CCK11 (now I feel totally out of my depth) but has given a beautiful example of connections *in play* with James L. Morrison and a new paradigm to boot! and why do I feel doubly obliged to post about it? Not only because it's a part of my chaotic reflections that cover my approach to learning, but a Professor AA Karim's comment at the bottom of the blog told me just why I should:

"...You know why web browser is called "browser"? Because that's essentially what most people do...browsing! I think each of us should contribute back in our own way..."

Thank you to both of you.

So where does the new paradigm come in? Hmm.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

CCK11 and connectivism

Having taken the plunge and signed up for CCK11 only one week after it'd started, I haven't regretted it (yet).

Reading last week's materials has been interesting. Comparisons between connectivism and the other learning theories shows me just how limited each is in it's ability to describe the complexities of how we learn as individuals and groups. It really struck me how I've observed elements of each 'in play' while supporting learning in others, especially how having access to the 'right ' people can boost that learning process. But is that evidence of constructivist or connectivist theory? What worries me is how existing approaches affect the way networked learning reacts. Let me explain. Where the espoused, dominant theory across a group or network tends to follow a cognitive approach and values reasoning, experience and structure to learning as an individual, will those within the network tend to use the connections in ways that limits it's usefulness as the emphasis is on the individual? I can see it being easier to make the most of (networked learning) where nodes and pipes are working, for instance in pre-existing communities of practice that are active and the network copes with the ill-defined nature of learning.

Network structure, types and resilience I think I get, more or less. Nodes, pipes, no problems there. A nagging half-memory of LMX theory gives a bit of an inclination on strong and weak linkages with in and out groups. A bit worrying if the knowledge I 'need' to solve my problem is in the wrong part of the network, or in a totally different network that doesn't share with mine? 

Having been involved in online learning as both a student and facilitator, people put blocks on their learning  by falling back on isolated, introspective, fixed thinking. Yes, there are those who willingly adopt the new technologies, use forums and social networks, are comfortable with being outside of the silo. I expect everyone on CCK11 to be drawn from that group. For the majority though, it's about helping them break away from their expectations to be educated in the fixed, formal thinking mode and be open to new ways of  encountering information.

What this really shows up is how much I'm struggling with the nature of connectivism. Stephen Downes's statement that in connectivism "...there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, making knowledge, or building knowledge..."  has thrown me.  A new approach which implies I might be worrying about the wrong things! If he hadn't responded to Forster later in the blog and unpacked this a bit more, I would be totally lost.

I'm sorry if my ramblings seem a bit disconnected to anyone reading it, it's a bit of a habit of mine when I've blogged in the past. I like to reflect and reconstruct, try out different ideas and test them, and sometimes that's a bit chaotic. In time I get clearer and sometimes even lucid. 

Well, more reading to do and lunch to make so I'll leave things for now.