Sunday, September 28, 2008

Through a different lens --- that of shades of grey CCK08

Perhaps a reflection of my age and the shades of grey in my hair, I seem to see the world through a bit of a different lens at times— everything is not black or white anymore, but various shades of grey. That’s not to say my “black and white” lens is packed in the back of the closet or deposited in the trash, just that it doesn’t seem an appropriate one for me for these circumstances. Given some of the passionate conversations around connectivism, “shades of grey” is a lens which is used infrequently by others; however, I find it serves me well as I attempt to filter and then synthesize the bits and pieces from this networked learning that might best serve youngsters learning and living in today’s world. I’m struck by statements that emphasize rightness and wrongness, the lack of wondering about potential bits of possibilities, and the dismissal of new frames for thought especially when considering-- at this point in the course-- the appropriateness of connected learning in K-12 (a North American term I realize).

I am, like others, seeking early on in our learning to attempt apply the concepts of connectivism to daily practice. As others have noted:
"I currently instruct Grade 7/8 Science and Math (and have taught High School Biology 30) and would not negotiate with my class what we are going to learn, there are groups and age levels that require/crave/demand structure even though they fight it at every step (Middle School is one of those times). I have asked repeatedly in many forums what are appropriate age levels for these theories, and have never gotten a straight answer..
At the K-12 level I can only see the most dedicated learners blossoming in this approach and more applications at the University level. However this approach also makes another assumption, that the knowledge guider is knowledgeable enough in their
field to allow this approach. At the K-12 level could you say this is true, could you say in any profession that all are experts, NO. -- Where Old Meets Now
"I don't yet believe that it will be the one and only solution to revolutionise education. I can already picture schools letting their students loose on the net to find their own PLEs and PLNs, but what they learn and understand is another question. More and more, I think that connectivism is a good way to learn in small doses. Yet, young people especially still need some face2face interaction, too. They need guidance about critical thinking, media literacy and focused reflection- I don't believe they will just 'get it'." --Sinikkaprojects
"You cannot empower learners and encourage them to seize hold of their own learning experiences while at the same time controlling what they learn, how they interact, who they listen to, the networks they form, the way they are exposed to the information, and the time frame in which they are expected to learn it. You can’t both give away control and keep it at the same time." --Tech Ticker
"By focusing on the formal aspects of learning such as course curriculum, learning outcomes, assessment and the like we place the highly personalised and locally contextualised notions of Connectivism within a highly structured, top-down, hierarchical framework of formal education.

It's of little surprise then, I think, that we're seeing so many stumbling points. To a large degree the two are out of phase with one another.

Especially given the point you mentioned about "externally-imposed testing routines", and teacher performance review (which I don't think mentioned) - the practical aspects of Connectivism in formal education will have to consider the local culture - including requirements, accountabilities, and learner (and parent) expectations.

As with most theories, I think Connectivism provides an ideal, or a mindset, that can inform practice - but I definitely don't think it dictates it.

So as far formal education is concerned, what Connectivism does is provide a new way of looking at learning that - along with other learning theories - can be rolled into plans that address the local needs of the community of learners." --Mike Bogle

I’m not finding the same stumbling points—-perhaps due to my lens or perspective-- or maybe because of the window I’ve had into Clarence Fisher’s classroom through his blog, a window open for you as well in which he shares how he nurtures his middle grades students and guides them in their connected learning, despite “highly structured, top-down, hierarchical framework of formal education.”
I wonder if the pedagogy and ideas in the posts linked below couldn’t be considered snapshots of connected learning by young adolescents?
“Thinwalls is the idea of moving beyond the short term international project. A thinwalled classroom is a space that is connected with another (or possibly several others) over the long term. Our concept was to put our kids in contact every single day across the entire school year. While we faltered some in the middle of the year, for the most part, we were successful. We used blogs and wikis. We used video and audio Skype. We used moodle and voice thread, instant messengers, presentation software and more. If we found a tool we thought would be useful, we introduced it to the kids and threw things up against the wall, seeing what would stick. We poured over each other's curriculum documents, got mad at each other and had our kids frustrated with things that broke down. We did not allow "the Moodle was down" to be an excuse. The kids had to have alternate plans, workarounds, and backchannels in place.” --Thinwalls planning
"Start off the year's readings with a shared iGoogle tab - I keep a tab with just a few blogs on it that I want kids to read. These are what I call "required reading" and often stand in as our textbook. I've only chosen a few as I don't want to overwhelm kids with information. Currently sitting on this tab for the beginning of the school year are the Nata Village blog,, Jan Chipchase's Future Perfect, Afrigadget, and Dvice. I've chosen all of these blogs for their currency, their global outlook and their interest. As well, Each student in my class will subscribe to the feed from at least one country and one topic of their own choice from globalvoicesonline." --Global Lives Unit One
"Relatively speaking, students have few feeds to look after. Typically I will give them four of five to begin and ask them to locate another five or six bring them to a total of approximately ten. Using iGoogle, these can be quickly organized into several tabs that might be titled "required reading" and "student bloggers." Students can flip between these two tabs, seeing, at - a - glance, what is new in both of these areas. As well, when needed, they can add more tabs focused on a specific project that will showcase all of the information they will need." --Personal homepages
"But in a 1:1 classroom, students could gain the same benefit from Twitter that I do as a hyperconnected professional. Think of a 1:1 classroom that is hooked up with one (or more) other classes located somewhere else on the globe and each of these students having subscribed to the Twitter feeds of the students in other classrooms. These classrooms could function as a single learning unit even though they could be separated by thousands of miles geographically. Now imagine these classrooms working on a single project or novel together. Students could pose questions on Twitter about the novel they are reading. They could ask for help on projects. They could post what they are currently working on in order to keep group members informed of their progress. It would draw students much closer together and keep each other deeply informed of questions, concerns, and thoughts they have, something that is often a struggle in international projects." --Twitter in the classroom
"This year I'm starting off the year with having the kids look at the required outcomes for the ELA (english language arts) curriculum. There are a whole lot of them and I've decided to start with this one document since it is the one I am most comfortable with. I have placed all of the outcomes onto a spreadsheet, and in the fall I plan on having small groups of kids take one or two outcomes, write it up in kid friendly language, make up a rubric for assessing this outcome and then make a work sample that would meet it. Once all of this documentation has been produced, it will all be assembled into a binder which kids can access.

But this is all background work. The purpose of it is to give kids choice about what they are learning. For example, if we are doing a unit on present day societal issues, at the beginning of this unit, I plan on having the kids choose possibly four or five of these outcomes that they want to pursue over the unit. They will then have to collect evidence and conference with me, showing me they have met the outcome. By years end, they should have spreadsheet that shows they have completed all of the outcomes. Done on a Google spreadsheet, we will be able to see its revision history, make comments on it, etc." -- The things I carry
"I believe that in a networked classroom, assessment needs to be ongoing and take multiple forms (as we've been hearing for years), but needs to be concerned with different things than in the past. We also need to think about the network's contribution to the final products that are set before us. We need to think about the validity of information sources and challenge our students to make their thinking visible and sound. We also need to acknowledge the fact that at least part of the idea "proudly found elsewhere" is realistic and OK." --Social Networks
But over the last few months, I've noticed the kids in my class have made a dramatic move to Google docs. Using Google docs they can work at school or at home much more easily. But they are moving there for other reasons as well, the biggest one being that they can simply share their work with me and with other kids in the class. For example, my students are currently writing a short, one page essay on a topic of their choice to do with life in ancient Egypt. They've chosen a wide variety of topics ranging from the Nile to make - up and dress, boats, farming techniques, and much more. I keep the formal essays that they need to write short, being much more interested in having students learn to write a set of coherent paragraphs and an interesting introduction and conclusion than I am in quantity. It's not hard to write lots. It's hard to write well.

But with these pieces, these students are more often sharing them with me so that I can help them with revisions and specific paragraphs. They will share their document with me so that I can write suggestions and ideas for them and then save them for them. The same is true among each other. As students have been working on topics that may occasionally overlap ("What kind of clothing did the farmers wear?") students are sharing their pieces with each other. I don't consider this to be wrong or plagarism of any sort. I consider this to be knowledge networking and making use of the resources n the classroom. It's called learning from each other. --Google Docs
"We are used to working with the kids in our classrooms and worrying about today and next week. But the organizational skills required to ensure tools are in place and working, time is scheduled for planning for both teachers and students, that the steps to success are clear, and that contingency plans have been made to support students who struggle with not only the content, but with the networking and collaborative components takes us into whole other levels where teachers are often not used to being. It is teacher as network administrator, but also teacher as human resources manager and teacher as workflow consultant." -- Tech Skills
"While I foresaw my students making their own pages instead of having to subscribe to a single pre- made page coming from me, I liked this idea, more for networks of learners that my students might find themselves involved in more then me pushing something onto them.

Which is why I was happy to see that iGoogle homepages now have the ability to share an entire tab with someone just by entering their email address. Similar to sharing a document using Google docs, you simply enter an email address and the invitation is sent off.

With this, I can see students who are working on projects with other kids across the globe constructing a tab and then sharing resources they have found with other network members in other places. An invitation could also be sent to the teacher to watch everything the kids are watching. Easy and valuable." --Igoogle
I just happen to think this is pretty exciting; don't you?

Out of Blackboard and into networked learning CCK08

In September of 2004, Blackboard and I began a long journey into elearning (4 years of Blackboard seems long to me despite its upgrades that allow for blogging, wiki, and conferencing capabilities). As an instructional designer, contracting with a state agency, for online professional development for Ohio teachers, I was excited to be working with an organization that valued constructivist beliefs and the importance of engaging conversations for learning. In the last year, those values seem to have changed and/or I’ve come to be more reflective upon the design team process and the resulting learning experiences that have been developed. There has been far more talk of content itself as opposed to process and far less recognition of the power of engaged conversations and their importance in learning. It’s fair to say that I’ve entered a summer of discontent, unable to articulate clearly and persuasively possible alternatives to “learning segments” and discussions which ask “what was interesting” or to suggest reasons (that others would see as viable) for not “keeping participants within the BB environment”.

And now, with this opportunity to immerse in connected learning, to participate in networks that share resources new to me, I’m moving into a winter of discontent – one of this week’s resources really resonated with me and has helped me to grow (I hope) to a better understanding and consequent ability to begin a conversation of the opportunities arising if a networked belief in learning underpinned subsequent course design and development.

Stephen Downes' Learning Networks: Theory and Practice has been instrumental in my making these connections. It was this text in the presentation that provided the initial “aha” moment, if you will.
“E-Learning has been based on centralized systems
But these centralized systems, such as the LMS, are like a dysfunctional crutch…
There’s so much going on out there… you have to leave the cocoon and experience the web..
Stop trying to do online what you do in the classroom… it’s a different world online…”

If I were to make a case now (novice as it might be) with folks at the agency for connected learning that would dramatically alter the current design principles and development, I wonder if the following questions might be a good place to begin the discussion? Although these questions are based on an elementary understanding, I anticipate my understanding may become more expert as this course progresses.(This content is directly from Stephen Downes’ presentation—quoted and paraphrased.)

What if design was based on connected learning --resource based, not content based with open access--

What if content was not packaged but aggregated and not so restrictive--

What if the goal was learning as engagement and conversation--

What if we viewed learning as a process of connecting entities with the ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts as a core skill where the capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known--

What if we came to “recognize explicitly that what we ‘know’ is embedded in our network of connections to each other, to resources, to the world”-- George Siemens

How could we nurture and maintain connections needed to facilitate continual learning--

How might these design principles offer an advantage to learning for all participants:
Network entities reside in different physical locations which reduces risk of network failure and the need for major infrastructure, such as powerful servers, large bandwidth, massive storage
Examples: Content syndication networks, such as RSS, Emphasis is on sharing, not copying

Where possible, provide direct access with the purpose of mediation to manage flow, not information, reducing the volume of information, not the type of

Units of content should be as small as possible and should not be ‘bundled’
Organization, structure created by receiver which allows integration of new information with old

Entities in a network are autonomous and should have the freedom to negotiate connections and to send and receive information where diversity is an asset

A network is a fluid, changing entity in which the creation of connections is a core function
In other words: knowledge is shared understanding (and not copied understanding)”

What if this agency adopted the CCK08 course as a model? What might occur with elearning in this state?

Are these the right questions to help us out of our cocoon and into connected learning?

Hopefully I’ll be capable of suggesting some specific, persuasive answers as I continue to immerse myself in CCK08 in the coming weeks!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Challenges, gardens, and growing CCK08

Intuition, gut feeling—have guided me throughout my professional life as an educator. Often, I was acutely aware that I lacked a sophisticated level of thinking or knowledge of theory or philosophy to support my actions. I was one of those teachers to whom Downes referred; I was about process and doing. I was and am frequently surprised when reading and research validated(s) those feelings.

Although her context was somewhat different, Barbara Ganley eloquently asks and answers my question:
“Why, then, am I worried about all of this? Because it’s too easy to stay in places I like and listen to people I admire and leave it at that. It’s too easy to slip into smugness, to be self-congratulatory.”
So late now in my life, challenging myself to understand more deeply, I’ve moved out of my comfort zone into the transparency of connectedness and connected learning seeking that knowledge. That I’ve found colleagues who have articulated this challenge of uncomfortableness (and I totally recognize that they are in a different place on this journey), I thank you-- for you’ve contributed to my moving forward.
“I think we’re all still learning how to be connected, …and where our comfort level begins to stray into uncomfortable territory.” –Fleep
“If I decide to participate publicly in a class with 2000 students enrolled, a “massively open online course”, what is the price? …the “price is transparency”. I suspect that’s a clue to my hesitation. …do you worry that someone else will have already posted every thought you have and so why should you bother? What is the CCK08 course costing you?” –Wendy
Wendy, I suspect increasing transparency is the price for me, although I’ve not been worried that others will already have posted; I have hesitated as I read complex writings by learners who are far more expert than I- What silliness on my part— the connected learning in this course, the beauty is —that “one size does not fit all” –that our varied experiences contribute to our varied understandings –that connecting these understandings to where I now am can lead to better connections and deeper connected learning. And it’s been through colleagues in this course that I’ve come to realize that so much more fully:
“One might think that the disagreements in our individual responses to the theory of connectivism might be due to the fact we've read different things, or that we've read things differently; but I now suspect that our diverse understandings are directly the result of our varied 'prior experiences'. After all, we have to 'connect' these new ideas, to existing understandings.” --The Clever Sheep
“What I'm able to connect with first will depend on my existing conditions and context. A node that's right next to me and I can clearly relate to will enable me to make a conceptual leap in understanding, which will then facilitate another, and another until eventually I've come to realise a far greater understanding of the subject that I possibly could have without the nodes present. You might say they act as a roadmap for learning perhaps.” --Mike Bogle
Keith’s closing sentence of his “Grounded Post” really resonated with me:
“I think the course is like my garden … blossoming through difference and sameness.”

I’d been out in my gardens, though it’s not spring here, but fall— so instead of blossoming, there’s fading with that similar difference and sameness. The course and the garden do share that connectedness. And for me, not only that connectedness, but also connections to my ferns that are fast fading and the mint in the veggie garden which is blooming in places I’d not suspected. There it was— distributed, rhizomes, nodes, growing, making connections. I looked at these plants and the readings with new perspective and understandings. Some seven years ago, a friend shared a node of a fern plant that I lovingly planted on the shady side of our home. This year I actually had to decide whether to enlarge the bed or pull out some of the many new nodes (I enlarged the bed), taking time to notice clearly for the first time how the fern grew. The small mint had been carefully planted in the veggie garden two years ago. It has distributed itself from one end of the fence to the other across the back, connected, still growing.

As with me, I’ve connected with new nodes and am growing, having passed through new seasons of my life, though some more dormant than others. This weeks’ major course concepts now somewhat more clear (and I anticipate further learning as I continue to reach out to nodes of various networks) because of the connections.

One view --that knowledge is obtained from the network.

Another that knowledge is produced by a network (downes) --that
“connective knowledge is knowledge OF the connections that exist in the world. It is knowledge about how such connections are created, and what impact, or effect, such a system of connections has. It is knowledge about how we see such connections, how we observe them, and how we observe their results. …connectivism is a new type of knowledge, but it is not independent of other types of knowledge. We need to be able to see connections, and we need to be able to count them, in order to talk about them” --Downes
And lastly the view that:
“curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning in the same way that the rhizome responds to changing environmental conditions

In a sense, the rhizomatic viewpoint returns the concept of knowledge to its earliest roots. Suggesting that a distributed negotiation of knowledge can allow a community of people to legitimize the work they are doing among themselves and for each member of the group, the rhizomatic model dispenses with the need for external validation of knowledge, either by an expert or by a constructed curriculum. Knowledge can again be judged by the old standards of "I can" and "I recognize." If a given bit of information is recognized as useful to the community or proves itself able to do something, it can be counted as knowledge. The community, then, has the power to create knowledge within a given context and leave that knowledge as a new node connected to the rest of the network.” --Cormier
Each of these suggests to me, if I’ve understood correctly--distributed, diverse, autonomous, connected, open learning which I find particularly appealing and applicable to my practice. When Downes suggested the pedagogy that flows from these concepts --of teacher demonstration and modeling with student practice and reflection, it totally resonated with me! I’ve done that! Another clear connection –my experiences in national board certification late in my classroom journey had assisted me in concluding much the same--- And when he continued:
“Learning, in other words, occurs in communities, where the practice of learning is the participation in the community. A learning activity is, in essence, a conversation undertaken between the learner and other members of the community. This conversation, in the web 2.0 era, consists not only of words but of images, video, multimedia and more. This conversation forms a rich tapestry of resources, dynamic and interconnected, created not only by experts but by all members of the community, including learners.” --Downes
my level of excitement rose and I made the connections to the learning and work I’ve been and will be doing (I am so very honored and humbled) with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach regarding online communities of practice! I do believe the word tapestry truly paints a picture that represents Downes’ thoughts; I’d rather though refer to changing “landscapes” that flow with the seasons, with the growth of new nodes for the ferns and the mint, that nurtured by expert and novice participation, connect to new networks and yet unknown possibilities for growth--

Just in this writing, my connectedness has grown and my view of the changing landscape has altered-- As more leaves fall here and the ferns brown and collapse in preparation for sleep only to grow in the spring, I eagerly anticipate the growth I’ll experience through the nodes I’ll connect to in the weeks to come with this new spring of my learning--
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spread the Word!! K12 Online

K12 Online is just around the corner. Pre-conference activities begin the week of October 13. Then, the following two weeks will be filled with presentations. The theme this year is "Amplifying Possibilities" and the flyer is now available. Spread the word! Possibilities do Abound!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Powerful modeling, metaphors and connections CCK08

Upon quelling my initial panic (thank you Anne!), I began to approach this new learning opportunity with less trepidation finding that attention to the powerful model of the course itself, adoption/adaption of the metaphors that surfaced in various responses, and discovering new connections -- resulted in a landscape that was not entirely foreign and thus not so forbidding to me.

Stephen Downes (“That’s Week One in the Record Books”) comment at the end of the week really resonated with me as those were my thoughts as I began:
“I want to move slowly, certainly, through the basic ideas, not arguing for them so much as letting the idea make their own case for themselves. We’ll see. This is a fun and extraordinarily fascinating process, yet not without its challenges.”
I began to attend to the model the course itself so powerfully illustrates as I examined the suggested readings and collected passages that I knew I’d want to access again. Pasting these down here to help me with future connections:
"Hence, in connectivism, there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, making knowledge, or building knowledge. Rather, the activities we undertake when we conduct practices in order to learn are more like growing or developing ourselves and our society in certain (connected) ways.

This implies a pedagogy that (a) seeks to describe 'successful' networks (as identified by their properties, which I have characterized as diversity, autonomy, openness, and connectivity) and (b) seeks to describe the practices that lead to such networks, both in the individual and in society (which I have characterized as modeling and demonstration (on the part of a teacher) and practice and reflection (on the part of a learner))." Stephen Downes (Important to me as I’m feeling here is where George and Stephen’s course design both model and demonstrate key properties of connectivism-- diversity, autonomy, openness, and connectivity )
"Connectivism finds its roots in the climate of abundance, rapid change, diverse information sources and perspectives, and the critical need to find a way to filter and make sense of the chaos." George Siemens

"Instead of knowledge residing only in the mind of an individual, knowledge resides in a distributed manner across a network. Instead of approaching learning as schematic formation structures, learning is the act of recognizing patterns shaped by complex networks.

Previous conceptions of learning rested heavily on information and knowledge acquisition. The fundamental need of learning in our society has changed. Due to rapid growth of knowledge, the act of learning has shifted from acquisition to assimilation, from understanding of individual elements to comprehending an entire space and, thereby, understanding how elements connect.

Making sense of this complex conversation requires a shift to alternative models of management. It is at this stage that technology is beginning to play its greatest role; one that will continue to grow in prominence as knowledge grows in complexity. Learning, augmented by technology, permits the assimilation and expression of knowledge elements in a manner that enables understanding not possible without technology." George Siemens
The course model led me to the responses that suggested value in using metaphors to describe connectivism and learning. I’ve personally found that metaphors have been very worthwhile in my learning and this week was no exception. Some metaphors offered for consideration by course colleagues (and new connections) helped me as I attempt to wrap my brain around the concepts this week:
“Just enjoying a walk in the wood, one, two, many times and go where you see something you like. With the passing of time you will know that wood in your own way.” Andreas Formiconi
“I am not so comfortable with a fixed definition. Furthermore, I think its most interesting aspects are not only being a theory of learning, but offering a whole new view for much more. And all of these aspects have in common that they can be illustrated by the neural metaphor.” Matthias Melcher
“If you’re connecting it to existing knowledge, isn’t that sort of like a new branch growing from an existing tree? I’m not sure it’s clear here, but from Downes’ other writing, I think this is more about it growing internally, driven by the learner, rather than constructed externally. I admit I struggle with this metaphor though, and I’m not sure I quite get what he’s saying. I don’t think Downes would deny that learning can be work, but he would likely characterize that work as growing rather than building.” Christy Tucker
“And I think that’s why the metaphors matter–the metaphor we use to understand learning influences the language with which we talk about learning, teaching, and education.

So what language would we use if our central metaphor for learning was “growing” rather than “building”? Would we say we nurture instead of scaffold? Connect instead of bridge? Feed instead of support? Deeper roots instead of a solid foundation?
What metaphor for learning makes the most sense to you? How does it affect the language you use when you talk about learning?” Christy Tucker
The neural metaphor makes sense to me; I love the walk in the woods! And the “growing” metaphor strikes a real chord with me. In response to Christy, from one who has frequently, yes often, used “construct” and “scaffold”, I agree the metaphor matters. I know that “growing” really appeals to the amateur gardener in me and I’m feeling that “growing” gets to the core of how I see learning. In addition, “nurturing” speaks to what I see as a more human side of learning (as opposed to the current state of testing and how it impacts youngsters in the US). Nurturing-- I like that. Dewey’s:
"What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of information about geography and history, to win the ability to read and write, if in the process the individual loses his own soul."
– that speaks to nurturing-- Hmmm, is this the making of connections? connections to that with which I’m familiar and growing my constructivist leanings to adapt/evolve/develop understandings more appropriate to the “.. the climate of abundance, rapid change, diverse information sources and perspectives, and the critical need to find a way to filter and make sense of the chaos.” (Siemens, cited above) I’m wondering if “cultivate” rather than “support” might be a beneficial extension of the “growing” metaphor? Would that language create connections for you?

In addition to the connections established by the metaphors, Antonio Fini articulated what I had begun to realize, that, albeit not in the scope nor magnitude of many, I have become immersed in some networks and been connected in these last four years. I’ve read, and followed links and engaged in conversation – connections that have nurtured and cultivated growth/learning.

And as Alan Levine notes:
“there is the interesting part to chew on. I have to acknowledge I work on a base of many things I have stuffed into my memory; it does not always come from the cloud. So it cannot be all connectivism all the time. There is some foundation the ability to connect rides on.”
Perhaps, (extending the growing metaphor again) there needs some time for “composting” this abundant information – might this organic process yield richer connections and ideas for deeper understanding and learning in the weeks to come?

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Embarking upon a new and exciting learning adventure

I am intrigued by the tension I always feel when I embark on a new kind of learning adventure. There is always a part of me that pulls back, uncertain, questioning the risk taking that always occurs with any good learning. And on the other hand, I’m ready to jump in, to learn something new, anticipating that incredible high of new insights and perspectives that will impact my ever evolving philosophy of learning. I’ve come to appreciate the tension more as I age and am thankful, that for me, the urge to jump in and learn something more always triumphs.

From my first online course in 1998 that involved readings and submitting papers (The Online Classroom with Dr. Eileen Cotton) to my work in MOOM (Moving out of the Middle with Concord Consortium) where we were immersed in inquiry based facilitation of online courses to my current participation in a “rather large open online course” with 1600 participants to experience connective learning under the facilitation of George Siemens and Steven Downes (Connectivism & Connective Knowledge), the excitement, the tension are palpable.

George Siemens has struck a chord with me when he posts on narratives of coherence for I anticipate this will be a challenge for me as I attempt to make sense of this new learning landscape. He says:
“I’m personally quite interested to see how the concept of a narrative of coherence will unfold in this course. We all face information abundance. We all face the reality that we will always be missing some key pieces of information. A common concern voiced by many of the active participants: how do we assimilate/makesense of this information?!? There’s just too much of it.

Part of the solution is to rely on one’s learning network to filter out nonsense and to draw attention to key ideas. This is particularly effective when we can “plug in” to a network with high levels of diversity and with people we quickly begin to trust.”

But I’ve jumped in again, with an introduction on the course Moodle, and this post --sensing some pretty special opportunities and possibilities for extending learning and deepening understanding-- disregarding the nagging “what have I got myself into this time”, “how can I manage the flood of information”. It’s just time to let the learning begin!!

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