Sunday, October 25, 2009

Word Cloud of my Delicious Tags

I have been meaning to do this for a long time and my recent re-visitation of PLEs in CCK09 reminded me to. Here is a word cloud from Wordle of my delicious tags.


Wordle: Delicious Word Cloud

Clearly I have a lot of catching up to do if my toread tag is any indication.

(taken from http://www.wordle.net/)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Postition on Connectivism

Our assignment was to discuss our position on Connectivism and I found this difficult. Every time I think I have a handle on what the theory is saying and how I relate to it I change my mind. So, I stuck with the suggested questions. I feel like I ended up not saying much! I think Connectivism is a concept that is difficult to verbalize in a short to the point way.

Here it is for better or worse...

What is Connectivism?

Connectivism is an idea that posits that knowledge is an emergent property of connections. Connections can form between people, concepts and neurons. This knowledge is also distributed across a network. So to gather or learn this knowledge we must understand how to navigate a network. Learning is by nature networked.

Is Connectivism a Learning Theory?

In his 2006 paper Pl√łn Verhagen states very strongly that Connectivism is not a learning theory. He believes that Connectivism only deals with the pedagogical or curriculum level of education (Verhagen, 2006). A learning theory would deal with how learning happens while a pedagogical theory would deal with "what is learned and why" (Verhagen, 2006).

I would argue that Connectivism is a learning theory. It attempts to explain not only how learning happens but how to improve learning. Connectivism goes into great detail on how learning occurs. In a Google doc by George Siemens (2009) Connectivism is broken down into a chart that describes its position on how learning occurs, influencing factors, role of memory, how transfer occurs, and types of learning best explained.

There also seems to be some question as to whether Connectivism is a new learning theory. Connectivism certainly contains similarities in thought to other theories, most notably Constructivism. I think that there are clear distinctions though. A Constructivist believes that knowledge is created by the knower while a Connectivist believes that knowledge is grown from a connection.

What are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Connectivism

One big strength of Connectivism in my mind is the fact that everything becomes a learning opportunity. If learning comes from navigating a network then we do it all the time. We are constantly making new connections and those new connections give us a new perspective on knowledge. Essentially we are always learning even if we "know" something because we are connecting from a different context. It also allows us to move away from the idea that someone holds knowledge and that we must get it from them.

Connectivism incorporates concepts form a large number of disciplines such as, neuroscience, AI, philosophy, sociology, and economics. This poses a possible weakness. The marriage of all this information makes it more difficult to test or validate as a whole theory. While the parts of the theory may have merit in the eyes of the academic community it may not be true as a whole and without the support of community it will make it difficult for Connectivism to be embraced as a theory. This is also a strength though. Connectivism in taking all of these diverse concepts and melding them in to one theory is self demonstrating. A new theory has emerged from the connection between individual concepts.

How does Connectivism Resonate with my Learning Experience?

The more I reflect on my learning the more I see how connections and networks have impacted it. I think I was taught to see learning as something only I and my teacher were involved in. That never quite worked for me. I always wanted time to reflect on what we were learning and more time to discuss it with my classmates. Both of these would have allowed me to deepen the connections I made as well as increased connections. I have also come to realize that a network is only as good as its connections. For example, if I had not signed up for the Daily in this class or Google alerts (to name a few) I would have missed out on some great insights from my fellow classmates. I would have a different understanding of the concept of Connectivism. Every time I make a connection regarding this topic more knowledge is grown which deepens my perception or understanding of the concept.

Conclusion

Connectivism is a fairly new concept which is based in many disciplines which are either cutting edge or constantly changing. As such it would be impossible to say where this theory will take us. Each day brings more connections to the theory which in turn molds its being. I have many outstanding questions which are not ready to be answered yet such as, how will this theory effect instructional design, how will it affect things like accreditation and assessment, or how will it change the role of a teacher. While there are many possible answers I think if Connectivism tells me one thing it is that these answers are all dependent on the connections made.

Works Cited

Siemens, G. (2009, September 12). What is Connectivism? Week 1: CCK09. Retrieved October 21, 2009, from Google Docs: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=anw8wkk6fjc_14gpbqc2dt


Verhagen, P. W. (2006, November 11). Connectivism: a new learning theory? Retrieved 10 21, 2009, from http://elearning.surf.nl/e-learning/english/3793

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Contributing to the Network

This week there is a thread in the Moodle forum for CCK09 asking where all the people have gone. Reading this made me re-evaluate my participation in the course.
I have found this course to be a bit more intimidating to participate in since it is so large and a number of people actively contributing seem to know so much about the subject already. But that shouldn't stop me! That is precisely what I should want right? I want a network with different views and discussions. That is the only way I will learn... if I connect with different nodes of the network.
So, I have come up with a plan that will hopefully get me participating more actively.
  1. Every day I must post at least one thing to either the Moodle forum or on someones blog
  2. Each week I must post at least one blog entry
  3. I should check the Twitter feeds on #CCK09 more often
  4. I should post things I find regarding CCK09 on Twitter
I forget that building a network and maintaining a network is time consuming. I get so involved in the weekly readings and catching up on the Daily that I forget what their purpose is... to start dialogue.
Any other ideas are appreciated.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thoughts on Groups, Networks, Social Comfort, and Lurking

In our week 3 elluminate session we began discussing the necessity of social comfort to learning. In order to learn effectively we must be comfortable socially and since groups encourage control and silence the thought is that networks are a more effective place to learn. My question is with this line of thinking. I understand the reason that groups may not be conducive to learning in that they do not allow a person to deviate from the norm easily. However networks could just as easily be socially uncomfortable. The idea of sharing an idea with a network is daunting because you don't really know how the network is going to react. Even though the network is based on reason I may have a particular emotional tie to my idea and end up being socially uncomfortable when my idea is rejected. I think the concept of social comfort is precisely what keeps us from learning. We become to worried about being uncomfortable that we miss the learning.

My other thought is about lurking within a network. I have been especially guilty of lurking in this class. I find that as I read the posted readings, moodle comments, blogs, diigo comments/articles, and twitter posts for this course I often don't have anything to say. I have not fully formed my opinions or thoughts about a subject and so don't really have anything to say. Should we be forcing ourselves to say something just for the sake of interacting? Is this part of making a connection in a network and so not saying anything is an opportunity lost?