Archive for July, 2005

Connectivism/learning listserv

Friday, July 29th, 2005

The world really doesn’t need an extra listserv. However, in spite of my numerous rants on the worth of wikis, blogs, RSS, etc, I’ve decided to set up a listserv to foster discussion around learning and network theories. You can register for the listserv here. I find that RSS/blogs still only appeals to a small (subsection) of society. Much valuable knowledge exchange still happens via email. When I initially set up the connectivism site, I felt that the blog, discussion forum, and wiki would provide a forum for dialogue. The activity has been limited. While this might be a function of limited interest in the notion of connectivism, I feel that use of a more convention tool for dialogue (i.e. email/listserv) might spur discussion and create connections between members of the community. Please let me know your thoughts/suggestions.

The value of diversity in learning

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

When I first posited the theory of connectivism, I listed 8 broad principles:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

    Over the last few weeks I been interviewed several times on the subject, and find that people seem to fall into two categories: 1) almost instinctive agreement with the changing dynamics of learning and the need for a more relevant theory, and 2) polite silence, masking a sense of “what the heck does he mean?”.

    Over the next few posts, I’ll try and provide a bit more information on each of the 8 principles of connectivism, in an effort to communicate why learning needs to be conceptualized in a meaningful way based on needs of learners and organizations today.

    Principle #1: Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.
    In eras past, the content of a particular subject could be largely mastered by one person. For example, a physician could learn and understand the greater portion of her/his field. Much of what happened within a field was communicated and shared through the education system, then augmented by publications like journals or magazines, and the occasional seminar/conference. New discoveries or concepts were “processed” through this organized structure. Fringe ideas were often pushed to the sidelines, while small progressions were incorporated. Essentially, one person or one group of people could control information flow – they decided what was heard and what was silenced.

    Over the last several decades this process stopped working. Suddenly people started thinking in “systems” terms (i.e. how does this event influence and impact factors beyond our limited conception). Inter-disciplinary dialogue increased – physicists started dialoguing with sociologists (well, in some cases) and similarities in mathematical views of networks and social views were discovered. An interesting thought emerged – perhaps it’s all connected.

    Three significant things happened – knowledge growth increased, dialogue across various fields increased, and (more recently) collaboration and communication tools allowed anyone to broadcast their views and work (outside of industry journals and conferences).

    The increased complexity of working in our generation means that no one person can be completely knowledgeable within a field. An accurate picture (or learning) exists in inclusion of conflicting, contradictory, and unique perspectives. One solution does not fit every situation.

    By nature, I’m not prone to high levels of competition and conflict. If anything, I move naturally toward cooperation. For this reason, I find it quite frustrating watching politics. A large part of the political game seems to be the process of not seeing the whole picture. The attempt is to create the world (and frame the debate) in the limited construct that supports party lines. Isolationist views result in deepening differences. To truly grasp the whole picture (reality) requires an acknowledgement of the diverse ways of seeing and framing a situation. Ultimately, a direction needs to be taken, but at least considering other perspectives seems to imbue the process with less antagonism.

  • Participatory Journalism

    Friday, July 8th, 2005

    In previous work, I’ve stated that one of the central aspects of connectivism is the acknowledgement that learning resides within a network (not only in people as part of the network). As any node within the network grows or increases in value, the entire learning network increases in efficiency and relevance (relevance being defined as how well the network is able to respond and react to changes within the environment in which it functions). I’ve addressed networks in Learning Ecology, Communities, and Networks.

    Viewing learning as a network alters much of how we have experienced information in the last century. Mass media and education, for example, have been largely designed on a one-way flow model. The newspaper publishes, we consume. The teacher instructs, we learn. The news is broadcast, we listen. An alternative to this one-way model has been developing momentum over the last few years. Simple, social, end-user control tools (blogs, wikis, podcasting, vlogging) are affording new methods of information connection and back-flow to the original source. Back-flow is more common in media and advertising than in education…but academics are beginning to see increased desire from learners to engage, not only consume, learning materials and concepts.

    Towards Participatory Storytelling in Journalism and Advertising offers some insight into the changing model of consuming and interacting with information: “Most of this literature is still based on the often unspoken assumption that media work — whether in journalism or advertising, and to some extent game design — is essentially premised upon (a monopoly on) storytelling by media professionals for (selected) audiences. We have to consider the different futures of professional storytelling in journalism, advertising and marketing communications existing next to — in a more or less symbiotic relationship with — participatory, collaborative and connectivity–based notions of media work.”

    A Crash Course On Complexity, Emergence and Collective Intelligence

    Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

    A Crash Course On Complexity, Emergence and Collective Intelligence: “These are exciting times. We have an opportunity to watch and study the development of an emergent intelligence rooted deep within the interconnections of the net. The interconnections in this case, are not only the physical real-world network connections but also the interconnections within the web itself, the blogshere and the flow of human consciousness that “surfs” across the datascape.”