Thinking Space - Connectivism


Notes & Thoughts

Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

  • Introduction
    • "Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning."
      • Hasn't this always been so?
    • "The organization and the individual are both learning organisms."
      • Some learning in a positive direction, some learning aimlessly, and some learning in a negative direction.
    • "Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology."
      • The external brain is an interesting concept. The external "memory" part for individuals and organizations is obvious. The linking/connecting has promise, though quite messy. The external processing is growing. Wisdom ...
    • "Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)."
      • Which then necessitates another round of know-how and know-what by the individual who has found the knowledge, but now needs to evaluate it, integrate it, apply it, evaluate it, and then share the new "learning."
  • Background
    • Constructivism - "... learners are actively attempting to create meaning."
  • Limitations of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism
    • "A central tenet of most learning theories is that learning occurs inside a person. Even social constructivist views, which hold that learning is a socially enacted process, promotes the principality of the individual (and her/his physical presence – i.e. brain-based) in learning. These theories do not address learning that occurs outside of people (i.e. learning that is stored and manipulated by technology). They also fail to describe how learning happens within organizations."
    • "The ability to synthesize and recognize connections and patterns is a valuable skill."
    • "How are learning theories impacted when knowledge is no longer acquired in the linear manner?"
      • Was it ever acquired in a linear manner? Schools/teachers have attempted to present it that way, but was their initial construction linear in the first place? Did the students in turn "learn" it in a linear manner? Doubtful.
  • An Alternative Theory
    • Karen Stephenson - “Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated).”
    • "The ability to recognize and adjust to pattern shifts is a key learning task."
    • "The capacity to form connections between sources of information, and thereby create useful information patterns, is required to learn in our knowledge economy."
  • Networks, Small Worlds, Weak Ties
    • "Albert-László Barabási states that “nodes always compete for connections because links represent survival in an interconnected world” (2002, p.106) ... Nodes that successfully acquire greater profile will be more successful at acquiring additional connections."
      • Status quo is hard to change.
      • Hyperbole from "weaker" ideas can make it harder for "better" ideas to thrive
    • "Weak ties are links or bridges that allow short connections between information."
      • Are weak ties sometimes those that fall in unexplained tacit understanding?
      • How can tacit understanding be moved to a stronger tie? Only by being able to better "verbalize" it?
  • Connectivism
    • "Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing."
    • Principles of connectivism:
      • 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.
    • "Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism do not attempt to address the challenges of organizational knowledge and transference."
      • Must mean organizations/businesses having knowledge, not the organization of knowledge.
    • "Creating, preserving, and utilizing information flow should be a key organizational activity."
      • Flow between teachers and schools - why our !gnite program had the potential to bootstrap teaching to new levels. The monthly sessions added to that, especially when they refocused the teachers attention to what was already there as well as adding to it themselves.
    • "The health of the learning ecology of the organization depends on effective nurturing of information flow."
      • Individuals can impede this flow as easily as augment or redirect it. Status quo seems to lean toward impediment within schools as an organization, though not necessarily between individuals.
    • "Within social networks, hubs are well-connected people who are able to foster and maintain knowledge flow."
      • Can we create jobs within schools that help this within the school, district, and larger educational community? Or, if we create jobs to do so, will that limit the success of those who work to be a hub from within their job as a teacher?
    • "This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed."
      • And, if the cycle doesn't exist?
    • "John Seely Brown presents an interesting notion that the internet leverages the small efforts of many with the large efforts of few." - Not just him, look at Wikipedia for an obvious example.
    • "This amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network is the epitome of connectivism."
      • If connectivism is needed because other theories could not longer flex to fit the changes from technology ... How does the example cited require technology? This could have been done 20 years ago in person. Might the internet make it easier or amplify it, sure.
  • Conclusion
    • "The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today."
    • "As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses."
      • Access is not enough. Prior knowledge and understanding is needed. Processing is needed. Evaluation of processing and outputs is needed. Feeding that back into the "system" is needed.
    • "Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity."
      • Was it ever?
  • Overall questions and thoughts
    • This theory is attempting to address the connections that are different with today's technology. Another equally important difference today's technology affords is multimodality (easier to make and share an ever increasing number of "representations").
    • Need to reread and consider with regard to: