Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PDF on how to organize networks

Monday, September 29, 2008

JALT 2008 is coming up

This post is just a reminder that the JALT conference is coming up soon!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Work Literacy

  • Another free online course that just focusses on learning to use Web 2.0 tools for educators.

    tags: elpc3

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Knowledge is (no)thing

This week's Connectivism course topic is "Rethinking Knowledge" and after doing some reading and looking at forum postings, I added this comment:

One of the most common aspects of the meaning of knowledge traditionally is that it is imagined to exist in forms similar to physical objects. It can be created, transferred, shared, stored, altered, measured, etc. Even those who view knowledge as made up of neural connections in the brain tend to apply the same predicates that perpetuate the analogy of knowledge as a thing. This quasi-physical-entity view of knowledge has strongly influenced how learning is perceived to take place -- the classical empty vessel (Student) who is "filled" with stuff (knowledge) by having that stuff "transferred" from someone who "possesses" it in the first place.

To me, one of the appealing premises of Connectivism is an opportunity to break free of this "knowledge as stuff" analogy and replace it with something different. However, in Connectivism there is still a danger that we will fall into the old view by imagining connections once again as quasi-physical things. My hope is that we can avoid this tendency and redefine knowledge as something more dynamic. It may be useful to conceive of knowledge as a manifestation of constantly shifting systemic connections or relationships, something we experience rather than get or have. In this view, the experiencing of knowledge is continuous, dynamic, and can be both conscious and unconscious.

Ultimately, "Knowledge" is just a human construct. It is an abstracted notion that has value only in so far as we can use it in communication (with others or ourselves) to represent some part of our experience/perception of the world. We can be as idiosyncratic as we want in using the word (like Alice in Wonderland where knowledge means "exactly what I want it to mean") , but the less idiosyncratic is is, the more useful it becomes in forming connections with others that produce desired outcomes. So, typically there is pressure to adopt the most commonly held definition. The trick is to step back every once in a while and to remember that other definitions are always possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Summary of my first thoughts on Connectivism

This has been an interesting first week in the Connectivism and Connected Knowledge course. Here are some of my preliminary conclusions from what has been presented and discussed so far:

Connectivism is a legitimate theory and not a fraud or front for "technocommunism" as some have claimed.

Connectivism seems to be an extension of other theories of knowledge and learning rather than a repudiation of them. It recognises something - the fact that we don't learn or know things in isolation - that has always been there, but was not emphasized until recent changes in technology brought it into dramatic focus.

There is some difficulty in defining connectivism, but definitions of abstract concepts are always problematic. One quote that I thinks applies here is about defining communication: "To define something as communication, something must be 'not communication', but to draw a line is to make a mistake, for reality is seamless." Basically, connectivism is about everything, but it only has practical value to the extent that we can break it down into more manageable (albeit artificial) concepts. Getting everyone to agree on how that breaking down should be done is not an easy task.

One aspect of connectivism that we will be examining later in the course seems to me to be the most significant element in the theory -- the acceptance of learning as a complex, non-linear system. That aspect, for me, has the greatest potential to improve our understanding of learning and how to promote it.

Whether knowledge is connection or connection creates knowledge is a less important distinction than whether learning is understood as linear or non-linear. Behavioral, cognitive and to a lesser extent constructivism, have all been predicated on a linear view of learning. Connectivism challenges that assumption.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Connectivism comparison chart

This posting by George Siemens gives a very handy overview of how Connectivism compares with behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism as learning theories. It's a bit rough as he admits, but it is helpful in approaching this topic.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Is connectivism only about knowledge?

In reading the posted material for week one of the course on Connectivism and Connected Knowledge, I was struck by the singular focus on knowledge, even though the larger context of this subject involves learning theory and related pedagogical implications.

One paradigm that has always been useful to me views learning anything as involving a rather complex combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore, I am interested in what Connectivism offers in terms of how skills are learned and attitudes are formed as well as how/whether knowledge is obtained, constructed or distributed. Are skills and attitudes treated the same as knowledge in Connectivism or are they somehow different? and if so, how are they different?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

CCK08: Beginning a course in Connectivism

This fall I will join over 1,000 other interested people from around the world in taking an on-line course organized by George Siemens and Steven Downes through the University of Manitoba.

The title of the course is Connectivism and Connective Knowledge.

One of the elements of the course is to have participants post comments and reactions on a personal blog. Therefore, I will be using this blog for that purpose over the course of the next few weeks.

I hope that what I will learn from the course can be applied to enhance what we do in the ELP.

If you are interested in more details of the course, please click on the link above.