Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Connected without modem?

Before going any further let me tell you that I just installed Snap Shots. I have found it handy in other blogs. Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Yesterday I got my modem back. It burned last Monday morning so most of week 5 I was off line, I joined two live sessions and missed my weekly meetings. However, I was not disconnected, I kept thinking about the course, tried to link more concepts and explored my wall. This is a late post, I will address here the specific questions required for this week: Have you begun to see the rudiments of a learning network forming?, Has some of the conceptual uncertainty settled?

While Lisa does not recall conceptual uncertainty she mentions the grading system. I was only aware of the 40% assigned to the papers and learned the rest from her post. You know? I am not concerned with the grades, I joined to learn, have feedback and to get my efforts documented somehow.

I saw a network forming from the beginning, a huge one with more that 2250 participants. Following Stephen's ideas on Groups vs Networks: The Class Struggle Continues,which for me are kind of rigid or don't leave much room, I could say that we have somewhat a learning network. It has the following attributes: diversity, openness, distribution, interaction, it changes and the topics are emergent. What I see in conflict is the autonomy attribute as described, we are not autonomous, we have guidelines, tasks and readings assigned, live meetings to attend and formal leaders. In fact, part of this post is "homework".

On the other hand, looking at George's Groups and Networks presentation which I find flexible and gives more room I could say that what we have is a learning network with a high level of autonomy. It is important to note that he considers, as stated in the first slide that:
"groups and networks cannot be compared, groups are a type of network, they are not something altogether different from networks so, in a sense, it's almost impossible to compare the two because they are the same".
So, taking into account the three critical elements he mentions: Agent Autonomy, Complexity and Task Specialization, the picture changes. I could say that the type of network that we have in the "course" is one that has a high level of autonomy (we have to archive a focused outcome but we can organize ourselves to do so), a high level of complexity is not required (the task can be managed loosely, they are not concerned about what the final outcome could be) and the task at hand does not require high levels of specialization (no one will be killed if we get it wrong).

We come back again to the importance of context. Being aware of the two points of view I can say that I see a learning network forming, not only the rudiments. There is huge amount of work to get this going and a lot of effort to plan this "course", design the network and set it flying. I am not overlooking that. What comes clear, from the educational point of view, is that depending on the objectives of your course you need to decide which type of environment is more suitable, a traditional group where you have more control or a network when you can afford low control.

To give a course using this learning model sounds attractive to you?, Are we willing to pay the price?, Is your student's criteria solid enough to achieve something in a network?, Is the subject fit to be learned connectivelly? Is your school or organization willing to support you on a learning network adventure?, Is your country technically equipped to use web 2.0 tools?, Are your students digitally literate to cope? There are many factors to consider.

Regarding the second question. I have had my share of conceptual uncertainty, I cannot say that the uncertainty has gone because I find more with every new subject. This is not a bad thing, I am enjoying expanding my contacts, I am learning to get ready to launch my BaeL digital literacy project as shown in this video but we need to get on board a charity organization to do so. We started in March so it has been a long road.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I have been thinking about my wall. I still laugh when I remember the image "You are not longer subscribed to anything" at Stephen's blog. Well, my wall is related to trust. George's presentation touches a bit this point.
I do not know how to relate to someone that I hardly know, to someone who interacts very little with me, I tend to doubt when facing closed people with no chance to talk to them. It may be silly but if don't place the wall out it will be harder to tear it down. I know we are not supposed to get validation or recognition, that's what my head says.
However, my emotion reacts, I am human. I have seen some behaviourism taking place in the feedback or lack of feedback given, I perceive some kind of light coercion going on, not in a direct way. It is in a vicarious way, I ignore your behavior and acknowledge the behaviour that I consider right for you to imitate.
Let me explain myself, I feel kind of forced to post in a certain way in order to receive feedback, no one has sent an email or left a comment here saying something like "your posts lack focus" or "your map is not linked" or something of the sort. I observe a distinct pattern in the posts that do receive feedback so it's kind of a behavioural pattern. Well, the wall is out. I hope this helps.

My concept map is still very similar to the first I posted, I have the elements, the concepts, disconnected except in some parts. As soon as I see some sense in it I will post it. The YH Group for credit learners is picking up slowly, not all the credit learners have joined. The survey to get information to plan live meetings has even fewer quorum. We are all fighting to get time to do things, I know that people with very limited time prefer to hang at Moodle and be visible there.

As I luckily can manage my time, I can afford to have live meetings several times in the week. Today I was at the SL CCK08 group for the first time, the meeting ended quickly and I stayed around with Louise for a nice cosy chat. It's a pity that they do not use voice in order to document the meetings; I find it sad, like a waste of resources, I connect better with voice and get tired of typing :-)

Talking to her I saw that I have now a network at Twitter, before I followed just my friends and now I am following people I hardly know.

Later on I invited Dolores to my launchroom. We were talking about the course, our questions and the way we are engaging, I will meet her again at Conenctivitas tomorrow at 13:00 SLT 20:00 GMT.

I am glad my modem is back!