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.

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