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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

In which I take a quick glance at another open course.

In spite of our best efforts at incorporating public transportation and, in the warmer months, serious commuter bike mileage, I spend an alarming amount of time ferrying offspring hither and yon. This precludes a lot of other activities, including any consistent writing for such things as open courses. But, depending on the traffic level and the weather, the drive time does foster opportunities to muse upon the events and information of the day.

So in musing about my brief, once-over-lightly, tip-of-the-iceberg foray into learning analytics descriptions and commentary, I found myself reflecting on my agreement with Viplav Baxi‘s response to George Siemens’ question about learning analytics critiques: the potential and actualization of learning and knowledge analytics will make our current systems of assessment and other learning processes look like a horse and buggy before the invention of the wheel.

OK, so I’ve rephrased this a bit, caught up as I am in the role of transportation jockey. But I’ve just spent the past week driving a most modern horseless carriage.  And it struck me as I inched along in a fresh three inches of chemically-converted slush that the vehicle comes equipped with a rudimentary form of “learning analytics,” especially in terms of feedback mechanisms. And here I’ve become acutely aware of the persistent discrepancies between the ideal and the reality from the learner/driver end of the equation as the technologies – and maybe even our psychological processes – undergo developmental and adaptive changes.

True, my car and I agree on the big picture. The point is to get from location A to location B in a safe manner while consuming as few fossil fuels as possible. It was ever thus. (Well, at least in this house, since we have never understood why one would drive vehicles insouciantly named after the landscapes they’re destroying… tundra, sequoia, etc.).

But now my car has taken on the role of data provider and driving analyst in ways that the venerable Small Outdoorsy Wagon has never done. It “responds” to my driving through various signals and signs. It’s a bit trying, at least in this initial phase.

For example, in the name of safety, the car is equipped with numerous bells and whistles, and yes, I mean this literally.  The one most perplexing to me is the Mack-truck-in-reverse beeping that occurs when I put this considerably less intimidating vehicle into reverse. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Every. Damn. Time…. I leave the garage. It’s not even outside the car. This I could see as a reasonable warning to others that the vehicle and a driver of indeterminate skill are on the move. But it’s inside the car. There’s no override. There’s no volume control. And I’m wondering what research has shown that such vast numbers of drivers are so confused about whether they are coming or going while piloting this car that all drivers need to be warned that they’re going backward.

Or how about the orange “slipping tires” warning light that blinks if there are…well, slipping tires? Which is about, oh, every quarter mile with our current road conditions. My peripheral vision is constantly caught by the flash of Threat Level Orange just off to the left, behind the steering wheel. What’s going to happen over time? I’m going to learn to ignore it, I suspect, which probably wasn’t the intent. And as an experienced driver, believe me, I know if I’m spinning my wheels and need to change tactics. Flashing lights at me just increases the number of things vying for my attention under already problematic circumstances.

I’m also feeling a bit ambiguous about the sheer volume of data that is suddenly available to me as a driver. True, dashboards (and I’ll point out my laptop has one, too) through the ages have provided drivers with all sorts of information. Speed being of most interest, I suppose, both when it was hard to come by and now, when it’s hard to keep down. Fuel gauge. Engine temperature. Oil level. Add some trip mileage. A clock. The radio controls.

What strikes me now, however, is that the degree of precision in this information has increased tremendously. True, it’s my choice (or is it?) to react to the data, but I’m finding a digital readout of 54, 55, 56, 57 (oops) to be a more exhaustive and rigid taskmaster than a needle quivering around the 55 mph mark on a dial. This is also true for the second set of feedback mechanisms that have suddenly appeared: the Hybrid System Indicator. All of a sudden, I know not only my exact trip mileage, but also have second-by-second information on battery power. And on how far I can travel on the remaining fuel at the current rate of speed (as if I could maintain that speed in rush hour traffic). And on exactly how many gallons are left in the tank. And on whether I’m pulling from the battery, from the gas, from both, or whether and how much I’m charging the battery (available as a scaled readout or as an animated illustration that reminds me of those movies of blood flowing through the heart chambers). And even more addictive: I can know the average number of miles I’m getting per gallon every single moment, to one place behind the decimal point. I’m not much of a gamer, but we’ve already developed a friendly household competition to see who comes back to the garage with the highest score.

So one question from a learning perspective is: has this information and analysis (provided partly by the car, and partly through my interpretations) somehow changed my behavior or knowledge as a driver? In this “getting to know you period,” I’d say yes. It’s easy, for example, to use the power monitoring to make minor adjustments to the acceleration rate when pulling away from a stop sign, especially if you’ve developed an aversion to seeing the little indicator zoom into the brown (cleverly equaling “yucky”) fossil fuels zone.

But the other thing that concerns me is how much time I spend looking at these gauges, drawn in by the hobgoblins of consistency and accuracy and constant feedback, and the mixed-motive enticements of low fuel consumption/less pollution/economic savings. The speedometer checks are actually more essential, as the quietness of the high tech engine makes it hard to recognize the speed at which I’m travelling; in other words, I have more potentially “useful” information and thus greater potential control over my “results,” but I am receiving fewer environmental cues. (And how much precision does one really need? Do I really need to know that the car’s interior is 67 degrees, and will my driving experience be all that much cozier if I set it to 69? And finding out that my life behind the wheel averages 23 miles per hour? I think I’d have rather not known.)

I’ve also become acutely aware that consistent monitoring and making use of all this information means… less time looking at the road. Paying less attention to the other cars. Pretty much ignoring the scenery. I might have more safety warnings, but my new, information-rich processes aren’t necessarily contributing to more safe or enjoyable procedures. And all of this information and the constant adjustments I make in response create, I can attest, a more mentally fatiguing driving experience. (Something I, three months into a snowy, x-hundred-rush-hour-miles-a-week winter, wouldn’t have thought possible).

So how much of this new wealth of information and responsive feedback will I simply begin to incorporate without this extra refelection over time? To what degree will I assert my autonomy as a driver and simply ignore what I see as bothersome analysis, fuel consumption results be damned?  How soon will all of this be old hat, whereby the constant exposure to the technology will gradually wear me down into unreflective compliance with those digital measuring sticks, and I’ll likely forget the initial dissonance of these changes? And what about the household’s driver-in-training, whose arcane, state-required  “driver’s education” tells new drivers to honk at bicyclists ahead of them as a warning (wtf?) and preaches about the dangers of cell phones behind the wheel, but doesn’t begin to recognize the new cognitive demands of driving such a technically advanced vehicle, with four screens worth of data accessible via a steering wheel control?

On the other side: does this discussion really capture the full potential of– or any reasonable hesitation about– the sophisticated complexity of learning analytics?  It’s more about an interim or introductory stage in driving analytics, to be sure. Already, there are cars that do far more than mine. Some remember, for example, the preferred interior settings of each individual driver. Some, like the Google car, even drive themselves. Ultimately, it’s clear that I’ll be adjusting to the vehicle, not the other way around, which seems indeed to be the most rudimentary of “responsive” systems.

I also recognize that this conversation is still all about driving, and that’s a paradigm problem. I can get pretty excited about 47.7 miles per gallon when I’d gotten used to a (mentally calculated) 28 mpg. But these new numbers, no matter how improved, aren’t a seriously effective response to the larger implications of fossil fuel consumption in a shifting climate. Better mileage is insufficient for the leap we need to make. So I’m hoping this, too, reflects an interim, rather than ultimate, solution. I’d say the very act of driving needs to be scrutinized as well, along with a whole host of other forms of consumption. (Teleportation, anyone?)

And finally, I’d note that the seductive power of the oversimplified analogy can create a misleading but unfortunately persistent picture. So I suspect I’d best spend more time surveying the route maps and take these musings for another drive… and thoughtfully prepare to cross some fancy new bridges as I come to them. 

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Once upon a time, I went off to Austria as an exchange student. Having limited travel experience, it seemed a pretty big leap. Many years later, it’s clear to me that the Austrian and Minnesoto-American cultures are, in broad and relative strokes, much more similar than they are different. But as an inveterate researcher of culture and cultural change, I also am aware of how the “small things” communicate big messages.

One of the things that startled me most at the time was the mid-sized Bundesgymnasium’s lack of a library. My high school, built during a period of relatively progressive educational vision and funding, had a “media center” at its heart. This contained shelves and shelves of books and magazines, along with a small TV studio, and enough A-V opportunities to warrant the “media” designation. Students would meet in the media center for projects, and it was, in the conceptualization of David D. Thornberg, one of the school’s “watering holes,” where random and casual social encounters were possible.

It’s true that the Bundesgymnasium, set in an alpine valley, had better scenery, which in my mind certainly compensated for its libraryless-ness for a while. But that’s not where the contrasts ended. The first day of classes found me scrambling as I learned that when a teacher entered the room, all the students rose to their feet. The memory is particularly vivid in relation to the history and geography class, my favorite subjects prior to that time. The teacher entered, waited for the rising and rustling to stop, and gazed slowly through the room, checking for attentiveness and transgressions such as stray objects on the desks. Once satisfied, he spread his arms, granting permission to sit. He instructed students to take out their notebooks, pens and rulers (woe unto anyone who had already done this before commanded),  and then he opened his own notebook. It, like the students’, was handwritten– the chapter and verse of that year’s curriculum.

Monday through Thursday, he would dictate to the students, right down to the punctuation, Roman numeral outlining, and underlined words.

On Friday, students would recite, on command and from memory, passages from their written notes. Some recitations, in inadvertent Victor Borge fashion, included the punctuation.

No wonder there wasn’t a library. In this world, teachers were the ultimate, unquestioned information authority. The very existence of a library would suggest otherwise.

I have been assured that not all classrooms in Austria, or even in that school, operated like this at that time. And indeed, I also remember a literature teacher who was at least moderately interested in conversation. (Although she also continually scolded students for their ill-structured essays without communicating what good structure would be.)

The Kirche up the hill.

The Kirche up the hill.

 

But the symbolism of the standing, the dictation, “the” notebook, and the recitation is hard to miss. These things said a lot about authority, about concepts of knowledge and learning and choice… about worldviews. Indeed, the classroom rituals were not all that different from those conducted in the Kirche up the hill.

Several years later, I returned Austria, this time to Vienna, on a cooperative program that placed English language speakers in academic high schools as teaching assistants. During an orientation tour, my guide burbled enthusiastically about the newest addition to the school – a real innovation. Funding had been secured; parents and teachers were thrilled. It was… a library. We strode briskly down the hall, a door visible on the far end.

“Do the students use the library on their breaks, or go as a class?” I asked, clear that things were probably still a far cry from the casual “media center.” My guide looked at me strangely, pulling a set of keys from her pocket.

“Of course we don’t let students in here, but if you need something, you can see me,” she said, unlocking and opening the heavy wooden door.

Behind the door was a walk-in closet, filled with shelves, only some of which were occupied… with multiple copies of textbooks.

The great new addition to the school was considered an innovation largely because it meant that teachers no longer had to dictate punctuation.

I’ve had cause to think about these experiences and understandings as I read frequently about the push for interactive white boards (and learning management systems) for classrooms and schools. Lots of public funding dollars are being spent on these. They are also being touted as important and innovative technology – surely parents and the public would want these in our schools!

But, like the library-but-not, I have to muse about the symbolism behind these tokens of digital progress. I can’t help but wonder how many current technology initiatives are promoting tools that make the traditional conceptualizations of knowledge more entrenched and the rituals of the learning process more efficient… or perhaps even enshrining them. Interactive white boards, while they can be used as a central interface to connect to the bigger world, are designed for a world where classrooms as the primary site of learning. They remain a “sage on the stage” tool, one in which central efforts around worksheets and demonstrations can revolve. They might be fun and flashy for kids, and yes, I’ve seen them in action and I can see where it can all depend on the individual implementation, but let’s be clear: they are largely for the teachers’ convenience. (And that clicker thing? Spookily Skinnerian.)

Do teachers need all the help they can get? Sure. It doesn’t help to demonize those things that bring short-term relief to people and systems under pressure, whether they’re better desks, exercise balls, or technology aids.

Mobile learning via GPS

Mobile learning via GPS

 

 

However, what happens when we contrast these popular “innovations” with the symbolism and tacit messages of technology dollars spent on mobile and individual learning devices such as netbooks or OLPC-type machines? These de-centralized technologies communicate very different messages– about options and locations for learning, about learners’ power to make choices… and about a learner’s responsibilities in relation to learning processes.

In the best of worlds, technology choices, as well as learning choices, would not be either/or. And true, it’s possible to overbearingly dictate the use of de-centralized technology. And, finally, there is also a danger of being overly reductive with this type of analysis; learning is a complex system.

And so I would simply note that a society’s choice of tools, coupled with their implementation, could be understood as saying a great deal about its traditions, as well as its hopes and its vision – its worldview. An innovation in one context is interpreted differently in another. Nothing new here, but it seems like a good thing to remember now and then.

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In which I have been told several times in the past few days to “step away from the computer, and no one gets hurt…”

Yoohoo! Step away from the computer!

Yoohoo! Step away from the computer!

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.

Some things are simply beyond connectivist theory.

Some things are simply beyond connectivist theory.

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.

Some things are not reductively sleek.

Like connectivism, the complex essence of a Thanksgiving weekend Fishhouse Parade is irreducible.

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.

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Whereby I commit logical fallacies, reference ideas far outside my area of expertise, exhibit ignorance of many aspects of connectivist theory, place groups, communities and networks in a single bag, and potentially annoy a number of people.  In other words… thinking out loud. 

Whenever something new and cool and incredibly smart floats across the computer screen or appears materially at our gadget-enhanced home, there is a standard response for paying homage to this new incarnation of genius: 

“Ooh, shiiiny…” 

I admit to being just as easily distracted by shiny objects as any other not-quite early adopter. But there’s also always a little voice in the back of my brain reminding me that some covetable, shiny objects are made in China, with all the attendant issues, or that sixty-seven other people who have come up with something similar won’t get credit, because this one has a sleeker interface.

And so I have spent some time wondering how much connectivism is really shiny, and what this means for the folks in China, so to speak. 

Oversimplification is one of the dangers in trying to capture new information of this complexity. And yet I find I need to make some generalizations to myself as I try to situate this new knowledge. So I plead for tolerance as I think out loud here, particularly as I try to grasp the implications of viewing technology as integral to connectivist theory, and understanding connectivism as a network-only theory.

Clustering nodes doing their thing

Clustering nodes doing their thing

Flash one: The idea that knowledge lies in the network, that learning is the negotiation of a network resulting in change, sounds a lot like the idea of emergence that I’ve encountered elsewhere. Folklore analyses, for example, posit that storytelling in the context of performance exhibits emergent knowledge/understanding, where (off the top of my head) the “nodes” that inform this understanding could be defined as including the text, the teller, kinesic elements, ritual elements, the audience as a collective and as individual members, the setting, and the pulls of cultural tradition and personal and group innovation. It is within/out of the multiple channels involved in “telling” that the story informs.

Flash two: In a paper on “Collaborative ways of knowing,” addressing adult learning, Randee Lipson Lawrence and Craig A. Mealman note that: “Africentric and feminist pedagogies as well as Native American traditions place high value on collective knowledge through the sharing of rich stories and the cultivation of relationships.”

Flash three: Mary Field Belenky’s A Tradition that Has No Name  discusses how women develop their learning and their “voices” by being “connected knowers,” defined as those who engage with dialogue, role-taking, and contextual analyses (sounding a lot like networked learning?), with a heavy dose of constructivist meaning-making. And this jumped out: “Connected knowers focus on what is coming into being…” It also notes: “A leadership [learning] tradition rooted in maternal practice and maternal thinking [“connected knowing”] has gone unnamed… [D]evelopmentally focused leadership is seldom acknowledged, [whereas] leadership organized around paternal metaphors has been meticulously recorded…”

On one hand, these ideas are out of context for connectivism; even their authors may argue this. And clearly, labeling something with “connect + suffix” doesn’t mean it’s related to connectivism as a theory. And collaborative and collective is not the same as connective. And, yes, these descriptions are arguably applicable to communities and groups, and not, based on course definitions, networks.

On the other hand, there is enough overlap here that I can’t escape a sense that these notes reflect some sense of ubiquity for one, or possibly many, features of connectivism, depending on interpretation.  In fact, this “dependent on interpretation” is where I come back to where I started today, and to where I was last week, where technology was identified as a key aspect of the rhizomatic model and connectivist knowledge.

What if the flashes above suggest that a pattern of learning through connecting has been widespread even prior to the existence of technology, but has not been widely named, identified, or acknowledged by the “powers that be?” The above examples apply to populations generally marginalized, and certainly underrepresented in academic spheres that produce taxonomies and formal epistemologies. 

So I have to wonder:  what if it is not that technology has made connectivism possible, but that technology has made connected knowledge visible/palatable/appealing/exciting for a population that was otherwise dismissive of this way of thinking and working?

What if it’s the shiny factor that has brought a rich tradition of knowing and learning into the folds of academe?

I appreciate connectivism in the abstract. I know that it’s descriptive, not prescriptive. It’s a learning theory, not a life philosophy (although I sometimes wonder what the difference is in my own life).  I do not need connectivism to be “all new” (I realize nobody is claiming that it is) to be not only valid, but also extremely valuable in understanding learning.  I recognize the “truths” of connectivism (as I understand it so far) on a daily basis. 

But I wonder if connectivism makes intuitive sense to me not because I’m already living as a node on a network, but because I’ve been socialized as a “connected knower,” and trained in appreciating emergent performance?  Right now, connectivism somehow lacks the “get your hand dirty” aspect of some of my learning — and my children’s learning. It seems focused on the ether. I can’t help but think that I need some “ands” here, some acknowledgment of the connectedness and valid knowledge emerging within communities and groups as described above, to prevent connectivism from being an unfortunately limited worldview.

(The language used to discuss the “connected knowing” of women in-depth is quite emotive, whereas Dave Cormier mentioned in an early session — according to my notes — that “connectivism isn’t really personal.” Some classmates have expressed a discomfort at not feeling “connected” to the class. Is this because they misunderstand connectivism, or because they understand it differently, and therefore place different demands upon it? Or is their desire to be personally connected completely unrelated?)

Uploading to the matrix

Uploading to the matrix

To be clear, I don’t feel that connectivism’s fearless leaders have been in any way dismissive of others; G.S. began his introduction to networks by noting the many types of networks in social systems, for example. But the idea that there will be nuances that separate some networks from other social forms, whereby the multiplier effect of technology is inherent to the definition of the knowing, makes me worry that this will — for some, but certainly not for all — justify or inadvertently support ignoring forms of knowing operating beyond the technological sphere. As there are populations today who are creating knowledge without benefit or use of technology, is their knowledge somehow going to be seen as less valid or valuable? Is technology seen as so ubiquitous that they are they simply encompassed in the idea of “weak ties?” What happens to nodes and learning that won’t/can’t upload to the matrix?

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi suggests there is a difference between “big C’ creativity and “small c” creativity — the difference between earth-shaking innovation and brilliance and daily, small scale problem-solving. He also posits that that Big C work has more impact on society, and I struggle with this assignment of value. But maybe it offers a model for a parallel approach here. Maybe it helps to see connected knowledge developed through network theory and technology as a ‘big C’ thing, and connected knowing developed elsewhere as a “small c” kind of act? … And yet, this type of division is exactly what I’m wrestling with and against.  Connected but non-networked learning is not necessarily an old or outdated model; it still exists, and is still valuable. Maybe Jenny Mackness‘  idea about a “3-D” network depiction might help to integrate the idea of “connected knowing” with “connective knowledge.” And maybe I just need to hear “more cowbell”  on this particular issue, and am running amok, trying to tackle things too fast and too soon.

In any case, questions abound — of the causal relationship between technology and knowing; of the difference between connective knowledge, connected knowledge, and connected knowing; of the role of volition in connectivism; and the role of emotions in “big C” connectivism. And, if we were to make the leap to saying that there are various forms of connected and/or connective knowledge that have existed as a widespread, but heretofore underground or largely unidentified phenomenon, what implications would this have for figuring out how to practice this knowledge generation with learners of all ages and backgrounds? 

Connectivism, so far, is clean. It’s reductively sleek. It is a beautiful machine.

But is it shiny?


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I had the rare privilege of having my burning question about connectivism being deemed, in an unguarded moment, “boring” by one of today’s Ustream hosts. I felt so honored by this distinction that I am inspired to put together a post. So, here I am, Ustreamer 87268 (or some such number), reporting in.

My question was whether technology is an inherent aspect of connectivism. The answers from George and Stephen, as I understood them, suggested that this might be an Unresolved Issue in their relationship. Very roughly parsed, George seemed to make a distinction between personal relationships and connectivist activity, while Stephen’s view suggests… not? I also gleaned that connectivism implies a network overview on the part of the learner, whereas just “connecting” with individuals does necessarily qualify as connectivist activity, and that, potentially, the multiplier effect of technology (greater number, broader scope, and the global nature of the conversations) might play into the definition of connectivism.

Shortly thereafter, my question got voted off the island.

Ironically, the unstated question behind my question was addressed at the end of the conversation: how does one “practice” connectivism, especially with kids? George suggested international classroom connections as one example, but Stephen’s answer really contained nuggets of where I’ve been going with this personally: kids should be learning and doing and interacting in their broader communities… which I see as a parallel/convergent/developmental/evolutional aspect of connectivist learning, whether on or off line. (I won’t dare claim that Stephen would agree with this conclusion, though.)

Peeking into the abyss

Peeking into the abyss

In order to negotiate within connectivist learning, kids will have to learn to anticipate their own needs, and to understand the concept of emergence within the frames of their own goals and directions. These are not new thoughts for some parts of the education world, and it’s here that I would agree that technology, whether or not it is inherent to connectivism, has made these approaches both more feasible and more scalable. Among the major bugaboos for implementation, of course, are the entrenched adult visions of learning and the (related) assessment monster. 

Dave Cormier already thought of this, though, and I’ll be using his response whenever I can: “The rhizomatic model dispenses with the need for external validation of knowledge, either by an expert or by a constructed curriculum.” 

Whew. Glad to have that problem solved. 🙂

Of course, the idea of “radically” open learning bothers the pants off of a bunch of people, including many of the “vested stakeholders in K-12.” And institutions conferring degrees and pocketing tuition have to HATE this; it really screws up their billing system.

I know more conversation about this is scheduled later in the course; just thought I’d peek into the abyss. But more thoughts about connectivism and its relationship to technology may be coming soon to this space… where dealing with the boring is entirely optional. 🙂

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