Saturday, September 13, 2008

CCK08 Theory Recollections. Week One.

What is Connectivism?

The most concrete definition I have found is: An educational proposal that states that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections where learning consist of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. Stephen Downnes

I still have to munch over it. From the forum messages I see that the concept, the idea of Connectivism, as it is being described in the course, is familiar to many, including me. Maybe at the end of the course I will be able to answer this question standing on solid ground, maybe not.

From the live sessions and video presentations, as far as I understand, which is not very far yet, we cannot say if Connectivism is a learning theory or not. The debate goes on among the high spheres of knowledge, were the gurus are, I will let them solve this riddle.

As it often happens when dealing with non tangible outcomes, at the beginning, the new wave or new "theory to be" is challenged from every corner while it proclaims to solve all the problems, that it covers more or at least that is better than the ones preceding it. Only time will tell if it is a theory or if it is a fashion. It is too early to tell for sure how Connectivism will be labelled.

What I perceive is that Connectivism tries to explain how learning occurs. It tries to explain what many scientist and theories have tried to explain: How do we learn?
It tries to go beyond learning theories. Paradoxically, we are sent to review previous learning models; Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, etc. If Connectivism comes forward and gets recognition it will be the first learning model created by educators. Among the participants in the course there are mainly educators, probably all of them would like to have their own model.

That's the word that suits me: model. Connectivism has 5 principles as foundation.
1.- Our need to externalize, verbally or non-verbally, in order to make sense.
2.- Our need for frameworks or structures to deal with new information to make sense.
3.- Our need to socialize and negotiate around knowledge.
4.- Our patterning mind and
5.- Our need to extend our humanity, to overcome our limitations with inventions and technology.
This principles are shared by many learning models.

Connectivism believes that we build on the foundation of how we engage with others and interact with the world. Psychology believes the same, our perceptions shift when a significant other joins the picture and our perceptions shape our actions.

Connectivism takes into account three critical areas or surroundings or types of network:
Biological (Neural), Conceptual and External (Social).

What is new for me is the way in which Connectivism tries to explain learning.
It takes into account that our ability to understand is related to how well and how consistently we are connected with certain ideas or concepts. Such connections are a function of the depth and diversity of the connections, the frequency of exposure, the integration with previous concepts and the force or strength of the connecting ties. For someone expert on Artificial Intelligence or Neurology this will not be new.

However, Connectivism stresses that learning is the formation of new connections, that it is a distributed process. It states that different types of network with different types of attributes will serve different types of learning needs. Hence, the diversity of the network along with the strength of the ties influence the learning process.

"Learning in this model is not transferred but grown anew by each learner".

I feel strongly attracted by the above statement, I would like to prove it is right, I have sensed that growth in myself and observed it in others. How can we show this in an objective way? Is there a way to demonstrate it?
I may be naive but I sincerely hope that data from this chaotic course helps in that direction. Let's wait, watch and see how this course evolves.

CCK08 After the storm... a reasonable explanation.

Well, well, well.
What I felt as lack of interest or communication has a reasonable explanation. I owe a deep apology. Obviously they did not know I existed, they did not have the means to know!

I rescued from the trash bin two emails sent to Enrolled Learners CCK08 saying:

Date: Saturday, September 6, 2008, 4:39 PM

Welcome! Please reply to this email to confirm that you have received this…
You’re part of a group of learners that have enrolled in Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. As such, I want to make sure you feel somewhat “settled” and don’t have any outstanding questions. We have 22 participants enrolled with about another dozen who expressed interest but haven’t committed. (20 was our initial limit)

I have seen mishaps like this, only online.
22 enrolled out of 2000? Their limit was 20?

The second one goes as follows:

Date: Monday, September 8, 2008 11:47 AM

So, how’s day 1?
I’ve received several confirmations that my last email was received. If you did not reply, please let me know.
Exploring blogs and other media is an important part of this course. As such, we encourage you to set up your own blogs. If you do, could you please send me the URL? We are aggregating blogs in different sites, but I want to make sure I’ve got yours in my RSS reader…
Thx. George.

I toyed with the idea of deleting the former post but it doesn´t feel right to do so.
Due to no one's fault I felt isolated during the first week of the course. Two emails with the forum Digest were also on the trash bin, and the rest?
Vance's says that we learn more from technical difficulties, I agree. I have had my share of technical glitches even before the course started.

Have they hampered my learning?
I think so, I have spent a lot of time finding a way to answer replies to my posts without the digest and setting again my browser. My mind was clogged with so many technical issues besides the new concepts, I am behind on the readings and struggling with CMap.

However, tomorrow is a great day though it starts too early for a Sunday Morning.
I will be at 7:00 AM at Tapped in to celebrate...
Webheads in Action 10Th anniversary!
Then at 8:00 AM at the WiZiQ conference. I will surely re-charge my batteries in their company