In which I have been told several times in the past few days to “step away from the computer, and no one gets hurt…”
What with the last days of the formal Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08) course activity falling on a long U.S. holiday weekend, I’m feeling rather scattered and pulled among local and distant networks and groups, and suspect I am not doing any of them complete justice. And unlike many courses, CCK08 is concluding, based on my level of participation, with many loose ends, rather than with any culminating event or sense of closure. This, however, makes sense given the emergent nature of connectivism and connectivist discussions.
Among the things I would not want to leave undone is offering a sincere “thank you” to George Siemens and Stephen Downes for imagining and instigating this course. I hope you guys (that’s a formal collective honorific in Minnesotian) also had fun somewhere between all the challenges, as I did. I rather suspect this was a historic event, and it was a privilege to be part of it.
Thanks, too, to fellow participants in the CCK08 journey. I’ve greatly appreciated the new sights, sounds and thoughtful voices of this online adventure.
I have reached this juncture with at least two important “take-aways.”
The first is my perception of the level of patience and courage it takes to watch the (pick your adjective) masses give a carefully considered and perhaps personally significant (no matter what the previous level of sharing and collaboration) concept a good airing… or trampling, as the case may be. Yes, using the theory to explore the theory leads to its improvement, but it still seems to me that this would require some deep breathing. Don’t mean to presume, mind you. Maybe it’s all in a connectivist day’s work… but it still made an impression.
Secondly, the other educational modeling and content offered in the course has had immediate and ongoing implications on a local level not necessarily visible to the online CCK08 community. Social network analysis met user experience strategies in a casual conversation. Authority and validity became a highly relevant dinner table topic for younger learners. Some interactions cooled as implications and personal interpretations of connective knowledge became more specific; other connections were forged. And both leading up to and throughout this course, there has been the delicate dance of facilitating and advocating personal and local learning with a growing understanding of connectivism and related concepts, while trying respectfully to avoid (at least occasionally) the toes of those with different understandings and responsibilities.
Some of the loose ends relate to reflections on my own learning. There are parts of the theoretical basis for connectivism that I have not yet fully grasped. Additionally, concerns I raised in an early post about connectivist learning, technology access, inclusion and some forms of cultural knowledge remain. At the same time, I understand why these might be viewed as issues of oranges and apples, in that connectivist theory was never intended to address some of these things.
I do now understand why technology is not necessarily viewed as a linchpin of connectivist theory. Connective learning done well means the technology is essentially invisible, much like good physical and mental health and personal safety invisibly support learning. But my concern remains that, for those who don’t have these things, they become major stumbling blocks. I might summarize my altered perception as: For those who enjoy physical access to technology, and who have or can develop the skills of utilizing communicative technology, technology is a virtually transparent enabler of connective knowledge. But for those who don’t or can’t, technology –or its absence — ironically becomes highly significant. That said, future developments may ameliorate and change the fundamental conditions in which such disparities are found.
I would also note that my learning altered my earlier perception that connectivism is “reductively sleek.” I now understand the practice of connectivism as an irreducibly complex process. I would also note that connectivism doesn’t have to be perfect, or perfectly understood, in order to foster significant ecologies for learning and growth around these concepts. However, I continue to wonder if the degree to which connectivism is emphasized or promoted or desired as a social process (in spite of the recognition of less-explored conceptual and neural facets and the concept of networked autonomy) may make it less intuitive or supportive for some learners.
Certainly, my interest in education and connectivist ideas has not waned during the past weeks, but I would admit to suffering from a bit of mental fatigue on these fronts. Thus, other loose ends include the many posts by fellow participants that deserve comment, and George Siemens’ recent questions about the growth of online learning and what new learning might look like. These are things I’d like to think more about… but maybe not this week.
Thanks to all who have contributed to CCK08’s unique learning environment. It’s been an extraordinary opportunity, and I hope it will be the first of many such learning models.