Monday, October 27, 2008

Power and auto subscribe CCK08

Working quietly, trying to tactfully and artfully ask questions in two other projects-- That's tough work for me, requiring focus and concentration--

Suddenly a slew of emails! What's happening?? My CCK08 folder I created in desperation during the "introductions" forum filling quickly.

It's Stephen Downes and numerous replies to his use of "power". Two reactions-- laughter and frustration-- so I'll play the game but not there-- I'm old and I can be obstinate-- thus this post and no response in an arena where I am at times uncomfortable by the tone, the nuances. And as a "novice", didn't want to irritate anyone.

I guess I've not been understanding connectivism at all; perhaps this is a way to emphasize that I've totally missed the trailmarkers in my wayfinding??

My personal learning design has worked for me given my situation and my circumstances at this time. I've made meaningful connections and extended my understandings. I'm looking forward to the readings and blog posts this week on power and authority.

And that CCK08 folder; let it fill and sometime later I'll exercise what power I do have and delete it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tensions-- Opening Firewalls to more Connected Designs CCK08

“There is an inherent tension between the rhetoric of Web 2.0 and current educational practices.” --Gráinne Conole

Additional tension-- increasingly more apparent, becoming more taut as I traverse three diverse learning environments daily—Blackboard as an instructional designer, Connectivism and Connective Knowledge as a learner, and an emergent online community of practice as both a learner and community leader. --One tightly closed and linear, one open and connected, and the third a “walled garden” on a social network platform that thrives on the willingness of its members to share and make connections.

Hmmm, these tensions, not unlike the tensions resulting from my repeated requests to open holes in the firewall in the large urban district in which I taught and learned for so many years, hoping to provide access to connections to deepen understanding by students of key concepts. Thank you to Ariel who suggested:
“…it made me think of an electrical wire which is insulated, over the end piece or over the wire itself, to prevent it from connecting in certain ways and encouraged to connect in others.

Isn’t that what we are talking about when we talk about Instructional Design? … The Connectivist approach is simply to remove a lot more of the insulation to allow a lot more connections, including those sparks that jump gaps we as the “designers” may not have even envisioned. --Ariel
and enabled me to explore a connection to those firewall experiences and the appreciable tensions and dichotomies as I seek to examine instructional design through another lens. Wikipedia notes that:
“A firewall is an integrated collection of security measures designed to prevent unauthorized electronic access to a networked computer system. …. inspects network traffic passing through it, and denies or permits passage based on a set of rules.”
Those rules in the districts in which I worked were stringent, imposed not by educators but technicians interested in security, not learning. And they prevented, and continue to prevent, learners from making important connections with content, with people, with ideas, with networks, with the world. In my mind, I pictured a high, taut wall through which we were always trying to punch holes. And I often referred to my efforts as “knocking my head against brick walls”. The firewall contributed to learning characterized by linearity and lack of connections. Additionally, swirling around in my mind is this notion of security and how that relates to learning. A firewall whose tension is so great, restricting any penetration or connection, keeping learning safe—there’s something wrong with that picture in light of the complexity of learning and the risk taking required to move understanding to the next level --- a bit of a digression--

I’m wondering if the instructional designs I’ve developed in Blackboard don’t hold some similarity to the notion of that impenetrable firewall? Lisa’s learning design prompted me to examine mine in a similar fashion. First my intent:

In the design, “Exploration” often incorporates an interactive concept attainment activity (often meaning when I can persuade subject matter experts of the potential for discovery as opposed to presenting). Although mapped as a cycle for each week of learning, lacking are indications that the cycle is not sequential and that opportunities are allowed for revisiting evaluation, exploration and expansion as desired by the learner which is my intent. Now the reality---

This illustrates the reality of what actually exists in Blackboard for a weekly unit. It could be viewed as a pretty taut firewall-- as a matter of fact, the agency often notes “we want to keep participants within the Blackboard environment”. I’ve noted before my sense of some tension with the outcome of my designs; my travels in learning in this course have exponentially increased my wanting to punch holes, to design for making connections.

Then I decided to make an attempt to look at my own learning design that has worked for me in this course for these last three weeks.

There’s no wall here; connections prevail. I’ve viewed extraordinary landscapes, stretched far from my comfort zone with great trepidation to find that the complexity, the finding of patterns, the waymaking, the sense making have contributed to learning far beyond my greatest expectations.

So what implications then can drawn and how, within some given parameters (I won’t have a job if I don’t design in Blackboard), can I alter the learning design in Blackboard, hopefully modeling and demonstrating for those in power an alternative, powerful design for learning? A question shared and suggestions made by those with whom I’ve connected:
“Can we apply the best of web 2.0 principles to an educational context? More specifically can we use this as a means of shifting teaching practice to a culture of sharing learning ideas and designs?” --Canole
“In many ways the theories of connectivist learning are designed as a tutorial system without a tutor. “ This sentence jumped out at me the first time I read it as hitting the nail on the head. Now as I think about it, I wonder if rather than their being no tutor, there’s a multitude of tutors as big as your network, each guiding you through the bits they know more about than you do. It’s kind of a “professoriate of all learners” to paraphrase Martin Luther. Big networks may be important to this model. As your network grows, the likelihood that everyone in it is as ignorant (I don’t mean the term pejoratively- perhaps unaware would be better) of a given topic diminishes. Now, how do we design learning resources to make that happen?” --An Education and Technology Blog
"…LD is specified with control in mind, and thus cannot be easily adopted by learners. In fact, LD prescribes a sequence of activities for a learner, which are carried out in a particular environments initiated and controlled by learning designers, rather than the learners themselves. In my opinion, If we insist to have LD, then it should be LD triggered by the learner; i.e. personal learning design." --Mohamedmninechatti
How is the general level of activities on cck08! Is there some fatigue in the network? Where is the activity of the 2000 students? Distributed! Moodle? Blogs? NingGroups? Twitter? How is your role as a teacher in cases of despondency spreading? Can the network manage it? Which implications does it have on the ‘design’ of courses? Can you design courses to minimize dropout? Facilitator roles, feedback, mixing online-offline activity? --Jorgen
So therein lies the problem, the structure of education needs to be revamped to allow students the opportunity to find out why education is important to them. --tomwhyte
Shackleton-Jones proposes an awareness-resource model, where the primary purpose of formal instruction/training is to raise learner awareness of when to go out into a PLE and seek information. --An Education and Technology Blog
In this model, Shackleton-Jones notes:
“The very bottom level (Knowledge sharing) represents, to some extent, the submerged part of the iceberg (or the ‘dark matter’ of learning organizations, depending on which metaphor you prefer). The vast majority of activity in your learning organization already resides here, and it is the areas where L&D departments are least likely to be involved, but there are ways in which they can begin to facilitate and contribute to this tier – by maintaining a wiki system, by contributing to and supporting blogs, by facilitating knowledge-sharing."
George Siemens suggests, if I’ve interpreted correctly, designs that with an emphasis on adaptability and keeping current --designs to which attention is focused on patterning that encourage learners to see different situations and recognize patterns found with them—designs that focus on encouraging and supporting wayfinding to assist learners finding their way through overwhelming amounts of information and finally designs that enhance learners’ ability to come then to some point of sense making.

The Conole reading, New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies, offered meaningful schema and frameworks that have deepened my understandings and will inform any future design.
As Wendy summarizes:
“In her Pedagogical framework for mapping 'tools-in-use', “Conole identifies 3 dimensions that span from information to experience, passive to active learning, and individual to social learning. I immediately recognize that most classroom learning takes place in the upper left corner of the framework. Most of our students individually learn knowledge-level information in a passive manner.“
And she continues:
“ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How do we move our students toward the lower right corner where they can actively experience learning with others?

Conole offers a matrix of principles against the learning characteristics they promote. For example, frequent interactive exercises and feedback promote thinking and reflection, conversation and interaction, as well as evidence and demonstration. Allowing users to build a reputation in the system promotes experience and activity. Conole further identifies personal learning networks as a means for creating custom learning experiences.

I see personal learning environments as the key to a connectivist approach. Learner freedom to choose connections and navigate the network is crucial.”

Canole also proposes learning through some combination of the following:
  • thinking and reflection
  • conversation and interaction
  • experience and activity
  • evidence and demonstration

and further purports that “can then be used as the basis against which to benchmark pedagogical principles for any particular learning scenario”. Those principles:
  • Reflect on experience and show understanding,
  • Frequent interactive exercises and feedback,
  • Provides support for independent learning,
  • Supports collaborative activities

From those suggestions, what steps, even those every so small, can reduce some tension and move design toward the lower right hand quadrant in an VLE such as Blackboard, perhaps punching some good holes in that firewall? I’ll be considering how:
  1. To cluster patterning, waymaking, and sensemaking experiences -- moving from “learning units” (completely linear) to folders
  2. To design more collaborative experiences that are active and experiential, connecting learners to appropriate networks
  3. To include aggregated resources that are available outside the VLE so that learners can keep current and for the very purpose of portability as Mike suggests:
    “As useful as many centralized platforms are, the key issue for me is they retain user contributions, so learner contributed content isn’t necessarily portable.“

  4. To persuade subject matter experts and project managers to allow learners to create discussion forums, recognizing the need for them to make and create connections in their learning as Mike again suggests:
    “Moreover, it seems clear from the usage of the CCK08 Moodle Forums that centralized spaces for discussion remain a critical aspect of learning; and this seems to be a key area of importance for the VLE.“

  5. To create a greater awareness of resources
  6. To allow opportunities for knowledge sharing (wikis are portable from Blackboard)

It’s difficult to think small steps, but as Jenny said:
"Stephen himself has said that teachers need to model and demonstrate and this makes perfect sense to me. We just take small steps to begin with, modeling and demonstrating in small ways what can be achieved and celebrating success as we go along and gradually things start to move, but it will be a slow process."
I enter the “walled garden” of our emergent community of practice--the tension subsides as I encounter design domains of the Cloudworks design framework
  • Enabling practice
  • Building identify
  • Actualizing self

A design in which social interaction occurs around the content of 21st Century Learning; a design which considered:
"In the realm of enabling practice, a designer is faced with the task to create facilities that enable the support of a practice that exists or could exist within the social group that is the intended audience of the social software system. ... In the realm of building identity, the designer’s job is to provide the user community with the mechanisms that allow for the development of an online identity. Finally, in the realm of actualizing self, a designer needs to create the mechanisms that allow users to tap into the collective wisdom and experience and use it for his own benefit, learning processes and actualization." (Bouman et al., 2007: 14) --Conole
Missing only a strong emphasis on mimicking reality, this NING design provides a page for each learner to personalize, developing an online persona, and various mechanisms that allow users to tap into the collective wisdom—discussion forums, permissions to up load videos, RSS aggregation to the forums and community activity, a Delicious feed with a common tag for bookmarking resources of interest to the community, a capability to form small groups to connect with folks of like passions, and as the community continues to emerge, additions of “expert voices” as learners are encouraged to expand their own learning networks. Full of learners making connections, around a common desire to learn more about 21st Century learning. Full of excitement, full of discovery, full of connections --- the only tension—totally different as learners move out of their comfort zones to stretch--- No firewalls to monitor traffic—

My preferred designs and environments for learning -- Connectivism and Connective Knowledge and the community of practice. However, I can’t abandon the source of tension as of this writing -- what if, given the new and deeper understandings I’ve been fortunate to acquire via my connections in this course, I really can punch out some holes in the Blackboard “firewall”? What if I can move design to a new direction? What if---

Photo Credit

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stepping to the side to learn upon re entering-- CCK08

Sun shining --a fall walk and not appreciating the beauty of the red and yellow colors of the maples, the searing blue of the clear sky, the gentle but insistent chatter of the birds—

Instead brain churning –immersed in this notion of complexity—and seeking connections—

The fall season -- leaves down and brown and curled from many trees, yet maples still proudly strutting their colors –golden pine needles, once green and thick on evergreens, now cover driveways, paths, and the wood’s floor, yet others cling still to branches high above my head –and with each wind gust, no matter how slight, leaves and pine needles drifting sometimes slowly, often swiftly to join the others on the earth. A complex system—

The body of my soulmate -- fighting poison of cytoxan as it attempts to restore some balance to his system, to strengthen and repair some neural pathways so we can walk again together in the park, to halt or hinder the progression of MS -- his strong will and mind that rise and greet each day ready to deal with all challenges, to adapt to new refusals by his leg or foot to listen to his brain and move, to go beyond himself and always think of us. A complex system—

An aging, wise and loving German Shepherd – with great heart but no longer with great legs, with cortisol levels near raging but yet not at level for treatment once again, with a desire to run but unable as discs degenerate along his spine, with increased deafness -- yet an all abiding and extraordinary loyalty and loving for our home and for “his people”. A complex system—

A new, emerging online community of learners-- great enthusiasm of new members yet fearing transparency, the current sharing somewhat shallow, members connecting more in private group areas yet beginning the process of building trust and online identity, new discussions with no responses, yet acknowledged lurkers on the periphery – my seeking how best to encourage participation in a diverse community, to engage participants in process at this point as opposed to content. A complex system--

Economic turmoil – volatility following great uncertainty, announcements met with varying reactions, one institution following another and still more foreclosures, more unemployment, and the “r” word looming (at least in my country). A complex system--

The political arena – the ads, the innuendos, the misinformation, the fact checks, the debating, a country torn by misogyny and racism yet an opportunity, if taken, to rise above it all for love of country. A complex system--

A rather large open online course -- inviting yet so challenging to this learner, exhilarating with an “aha” moment yet so demanding, availing new strategies for learning yet still requiring all the lifelong learning strategies in my repertoire, offering new landscapes for my thinking yet so many views confound my brain-- the myriad of applicable resources to sift through, filter, make sense of and then connect -- the potential opportunities that may arise as a result of this learning. A complex system--

Shaking myself, stepping back and to the side, I stopped-- too much churning, too much chaos and complexity- And so for some few days, seeking balance, and trying a new approach, perspective if you will, I just enjoyed and reveled in the sunshine, the color and the falling leaves, and the company of loved ones. Back now to make connections to my learning and my practice with a new appreciation for the intricate, dynamic relationships and nuances in complex systems. Seeking coherence, “..rely(ing) on one’s learning network to filter out nonsense and to draw attention to key ideas.”

I’m wondering if recognition in and of itself of the features of complex systems isn’t of some value as I face the world and learning each day. I’m thinking, yes, at least for me, and these words of Harsbarger’s provided some guidance:
“The main feature that characterizes complex systems is the dynamic interaction of various elements of the system over time such that the results of these interactions are not entirely predictable or proportional. A complex system, due to its dynamic and sometimes chaotic and random self-interaction, cannot be reduced to simple parts which relate to each other in very predictable ways.” Chaos Complexity and Language
Next, as George Siemens guided me to turn to fluid structures to help me function in complex/chaotic environments:
“..Complexity and chaos are like this. They are too large to be grasped with a frame of reference that is founded on non-complex views of life. …we need to let go of the notion that we can know a field in its entirety. All knowledge is in the connections – how we’ve connected concepts and how we are connected to other people and sources of information. …our best opportunity to function in complex and chaotic environments is found in structures that adapt and respond to feedback. Change requires structures that also change. To this end, we turn to networks and ecologies as a model.. for learning… for managing complexity… ” Complexity, Chaos, and Emergence
I turned again to my expanding networks- medical (neurologist, neuro oncologist, primary care physician, nurse practitioners and nurses), canine (caring yet extremely knowledgeable veterinarian and technologists), virtual community (community organizers, leaders and community members), economic and political (somewhat trusted resources of information online, League of Women Voters), and CCK08 (a expanded list of resources in Delicious and connections through blogs). As Alec Courous suggested, the human filters, the humanizing of connections, my personal learning network-- has had enormous import in my dealing with complexity of the day.

From my CCK08 network, it became more evident that once again my “gut feelings and intuition”, (in this instance regarding current learning within a learning management system) were validated by “expert voices” in my ever expanding learning network who support non-linear, dynamic learning. With an excitement, I would imagine as great as Andreas’,
“Amazing, really. I read Developing Online From Simplicity toward Complexity: Going with the Flow of Non-Linear Learning and what I have found is a perfect description my experiences”
I eagerly continued my reading and listening.

As Grant Casey mentioned:
Phelps’ article really sparked some more thoughts on how the whole paradigm of teaching must change as a result of the non linear opportunities presented by the new technologies.”
The underlying belief of the one organization with whom I’ve served as an instructional designer is one of simplistic, structured linear learning; in another post I noted a desire to impact their thinking and sense that if I draw from the Phelps’s paper, there might be a greater willingness to at least consider a more dynamic, fluid, non linear learning environment. Phelps notes:
"Complexity represents a recognition that the world is irreducibly complex, not determinist and predictable, and that the task before us is no longer to identify the simple elements of reality underlying complex appearances, but to work out how to study complexity in its own right (Gare, 2000).
Complexity provides a perspective on learning based on non-linearity of thought and on variation as a source and outcome of thinking (Bloom, 1998; 2000). Such a view leads to an emphasis on meaning rather than decontextalised content, an emphasis on creativity, a sense of connection to learners’ worlds and the development of a sense of ownership over what is learned (Bloom, 2000). Complexity views student thinking and learning as an emergent process where ideas and concepts arise from specific contexts in inherently non-linear and unpredictable ways..”

“Complexity-based educationalists (for example, Doll, 1989a; 1989b; Iannone, 1995; Sawada & Caley, 1985) see the contemporary focus on objectives and learning outcomes as representative of an obsession with domination, control and reductionism and an undermining of emergent learning. Complexity’s perspective is that teachers need to accept students’ ability to organise, construct and structure learning, combining supportive and challenging behaviour; equilibrium with disequilibrium.”

Jenny’s comment:
“I have always thought about learning objectives as being about clarity of forward thinking and about knowing what to assess. I don’t see that learning objectives need to control or undermine emergent learning.”
suggests perhaps a background and experience that differs from my own on both a teaching k12 and professional development level. With the “No Child Left Behind” legislation in this country for k12 schooling, many school districts expect teachers and their learners to work with discrete learning outcomes in strictly linear manner on designated days-- no going with the flow in many classrooms, no time to answer unexpected questions; it’s hard for any youngster to engage in messy, emergent and passion based learning. Some believe this linear, objective based learning has diminished deeper understanding of important concepts and contributed to fewer youngsters whose problem solving skills are well developed.

At TeachWeb2, Wendy wonders:
“Can we even create specific learning objectives within a framework of complexity? (Framework of complexity...Is that an oxymoron?) Phelps points out that real life is not ordered or structured, but I submit that's the reason we humans try so hard to put structure and order around it. Order facilitates our understanding. If we took Phelps' study to the next level, we might find that students learn more from a free, open, complex content environment. But, I wonder if we would also find (as I am experiencing with this course) a motivation to impose our own individual structure around the chaos. So, maybe it's not about a lack of structure, but more about who's imposing the structure. Do we learn from artificially imposed structure conceived by the teacher, or self-imposed structure that meets our unique individual learning needs? How can teachers help students build those individual learning structures? Is that possible or practical?”
Those questions resonate with me as it seems to me they are about process and lifelong learning. And I’m wondering, can learners in seeking the framework and/or structure (patterns as mentioned in the comments to Wendy’s post) that engender understanding find that with their personal participation in a network? I’m sensing that may now be happening for me; that in some way in the blog postings and readings I’m finding patterns that help deepen my understanding—and from those patterns emerge outcomes I’d like to see occur from my participation. Hmmm, with this writing that realization, and some deeper exploration on my part in the weeks to follow.

I’d like to see teachers have the opportunities to find perhaps a middle ground, one different from the one they grown in and to which they’ve become accustomed—I’m wondering if a model grounded in non linear learning that accommodates a district’s need to show accountability for learning and incorporates more “process” learning might be of value? And then employ that as a model for teacher learning in online professional development – one they might transfer then to their classrooms. Until that model, I anticipate Phelps’s resource may be of benefit in my conversations as I seek to nudge, cajole, and persuade folks to consider aspects of non linear and complex learning as a basis for course design and development.

John found an additional resource, the Harsbarger paper compelling as did I, in expanding my understanding, first with his summation of Jonassen’s discussion of a “traditional linear, computational paradigm” and conclusion that “Learning is much more complex and much less certain than these assumptions infer.” And next with his own assertions that:
“Adopting a dynamic systems model of learning will support and promote several fundamental changes in education: Emphasis on individual learning processes, Teachers as resources and models, Holistic engagement levels and proficiency change over time as the basis for program, teacher and student assessment.”
In my very humble opinion, these fundamental changes are in the best interests of all learners; although the third, on my part, warrants deeper investigation and consideration of how that might look within a classroom or in the current online environment in which I’m working.

Where I’ve come-- from a sense of brain racing, overwhelming information overload – to a feeling of some sense of peace given this writing and participation in various networks, to development of a novice understanding of complex systems – to a realization that potential here for continued learning is enormous – to a hope to impact adoption/adaption of a model that moves away from linear learning toward unpredictability and more “aha” moments.

Photo credit

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Into the kitchen— making soup CCK08

Connecting my learning to one of my passions has been extremely valuable as I strive for understanding and deeper meaning. Attempting to discern correctly the different entities under consideration this week – groups, networks, and collectives- was no different. And as I watched others use metaphors to anchor their learning:
“This can be succinctly summarized by saying, in my experience groups are like fraternities, networks are like Deadheads.” --Tech Ticker
“These two metaphors provide me with a very clear distinction between these two concepts that help to keep them apart.” (melting pot and salad) -- Virtual Breath
“Is that what Connectivism is doing, making each of us a piece of a puzzle, that when combined is greater than each of us?”
-- Where Old Meets Now
The thought that awareness of the different entities and their dynamics could be exploited in designing learning experiences took me into the kitchen, making soup.

Some ingredients this week --groups, networks, and collectives-- as explained and described by experts and colleagues:
“At this stage the discussion on groups and networks seems to come down to two views:
1. Stephen’s view “groups require unity and networks require diversity. Groups require coherence, networks require autonomy and so on” Downes (2007)
2. George’s view that groups are one type of network where the context is critical. A critical difference though is that networks encourage the autonomy of the self where groups often result in the subsuming of the self. Siemens (2008)” -- Grant Casey
“Connectivism is about networked learning. This doesn't mean that groups won't form within networks. It just means that connective learning in its most powerful sense has the characteristics (my words here from the concept map—Connections, Diversity, Autonomy, Open, Distributed, Equal. Those characteristics are what differentiate groups from networks and connectivism from other learning theories.” -- Teachweb2
“Our classification begins with the often tightly formed and usually temporally bound entity known as the group or, in many corporate settings, as the team. From here we move to discussion of the network, a more fluid form of social entity in which members join, create and remove themselves through informal and semi-formal connections. Finally we discuss the collective, the highest form of social granularity in which members participate for individual benefit, but their activities are harvested to generate the ‘wisdom of crowds’. … Collectives are aggregations, sets formed of the actions of individuals who primarily see themselves as neither a part of a group nor connected through a network. Like the Network, the shape of the collective is emergent, not designed.… the distinctive dynamic is one of aggregation, not networking and the clearest way of distinguishing the two is that collective systems do not require a commitment to the Many. Collectives offer the major benefit of collaboration for free – simply interacting with the system is often enough for structures to form. … The collective thus serves as a visible entry point whereby the usually closed and hidden doorway to more intense networks and groups becomes visible.” -- Anderson
“So individuals are in groups, and groups expect certain behavior from their members. In some cases groups obscure pathways to certain types of information. Individuals can connect to networks, but only if their information-seeking behavior is not blocked by the behavior they are expected to show to remain a member of their group.” -- Gina
“To a fair degree Network Homogeneity does not inspire rapid innovation or alterations of perspective. By nature, if everyone in a network sees things the same way; has the same experience base and perspectives on a given subject matter; and indeed agrees on everything - you don’t have much fodder for discussion or further exploration. Heterogeneity on the other hand, can be an invaluable driver for learning.” -- Tech Ticker
Now Stephen Downes’ “salad” would go well with the vegetable soup I’m proposing which to me loosely joins all the ingredients which maintain their flavors. The many pieces of each vegetable (a group?) are added at the appropriate moment determined by the cooking time required. (a reference to different dynamics?). As the vegetables simmer, they retain some of their identity yet in the process change form a bit becoming more connected, offering a “mutual exchange of value” (a network). This soup differs from one that is pureed as the broth is an additional entity as it’s served at the table. I’m wondering if in that broth, taste buds find an aggregation (collective) of flavors directly influenced by the amounts of each veggie affecting the dynamics. My recent soup pot was deeply impacted by cauliflower as opposed to an earlier one by broccoli.

I’m certain that many will feel that I’ve carried this far too far; however, it is helpful to me as I then seek to apply this to practice where this soup pot can inform planning of learning experiences for students.. Jenny so nicely put what I am thinking:
“But I think Terry captured what it’s all about right at the beginning of his Elluminate presentation, when he said that teaching and learning can be enhanced by all three - group work, networks and collectives.”
Translating to practice, in planning, after determining goals and learning outcomes for students and deciding upon how students will provide evidence of mastery, I turn to the development of activities that lead to understanding. Once those are established, I think considering the dynamics needed for learning and understanding will then help in selecting the entity in the soup best suited for situation. It appears that Jenny and Grant might concur with my thoughts when they write:
“But I think Terry captured what it’s all about right at the beginning of his Elluminate presentation, when he said that teaching and learning can be enhanced by all three - group work, networks and collectives. Although it’s easy to start each of these up, we need to think about why we use them and which tools to use for meaningful contributions to be made. PURPOSE seems to be the key.” -- Jenny
“… the structure(s) we set up for teaching and learning (a group or a network) will depend on the context and the required outcomes.” --Grant Casey

I’m not sure I currently see the need for a process “to move students forward” as suggested by these statements:
“The process of moving the students forward from a group setting to a network will be required, so will an educator familiar with both. For this process to properly occur, curriculum will need to be specifically designed and implemented, taking into account, emerging technologies and student safety within an online environment.” -- Ubiquitous
As it seems to me that they can become immersed in a group, a network, or collective depending upon the context, and age and sophistication of students would determine the appropriateness of their knowing:
“You could be in a group, and/or a network, and/or collectives at the same or different times. It depends on where you are and how you see all these.” -- Sufaijohnmak
As this week began (as when I first began cooking), I wasn’t clear on how deep awareness of specific attributes and dynamics could be of consequence to my learning (cooking). I’ve come to understand that that naiveté diminished my learning and my cooking; hopefully more accomplished now as a learner and a cook, my practice and my soup will be the richer and more flavorful.

Photo credit

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wondering CCK08

There seems to be some focus on the Connectivism “course” as opposed to the concept. These posts and discussions around prior learning, bridging, and prerequisite literacies cause me to wonder if I have developed misconceptions about connectivism--
“… I think there’s a third dimension, prior learning, which plays an important role. While few of us know anywhere near what George and Stephen do about the topics of the course, neither are most of us novices. Many of us are familiar with social networks, concept maps, and learning theory, for example. Therefore we have some prior understanding in which to ground our thinking, leading to some intelligent comments and questions.

I am considering two possibilities.
a. The level of discourse correlates directly to the mean level of prior learning. If you put knowledgeable people together, the conversation will be good.

b. Discourse level correlates inversely to the standard deviation of the level of prior learning. I think of this in terms of knowledge/learning gaps. My imagined typical case is the standard freshman survey of X where the instructor knows quite a bit and the students often know very little.” -Connected
“Prerequisite Literacies
I think this kind of course needs a very specific description of what people are goign to need to know in order to be able to participate effectively. This might also include go forward models in terms of how people might go about doing that. For those of us who participate in online communities all the time it wasn’t terribly difficult, but i get the sense that more online participation would have resulted from added scaffolding.” -Dave Cormier
“I think, rather than a problem of prerequisite literacies, the challenge with the course organization, is that may of the learners were exposed to bridging strategies long before the course began, and therefore, were able to quickly adapt and develop their own learning environments. “ --Ingenuity
My sense of connected learning is that each of us, novice and expert learner seeks connections to deepen learning and participation in a network. I’m wondering if that network isn’t the richer for diversity—novice and expert. I’m currently involved in a new emerging community of practice in which novices and expert learn together—it’s an exciting community whose leaders will emerge and I daresay, some of them will come from the initial novices. (Wenger) The novices in the community have little prior learning, prerequisite literacies, or bridging strategies in the specific content of the community, but my sense is they are learners and because they know how to learn, they are beginning to network and grow.

I deem myself a novice in CCK08; I don’t have the prior deep learning in learning theory, semantics, and philosophy that is evident in many posts. I am, however, an “expert” learner (Bransford, How People Learn) and expect to return to those readings which are extremely challenging to me. I wonder if I misunderstand connectivism, as I thought that with the knowledge in the networks and the autonomous nature of learning, that novice and expert learners are welcome to network, connect and grow as best suits each one.
“---, we need to equate “learning” to “learning” and leave the discussion open to all forms that it may take. “ --Tech Ticker
Mike Bogle’s phrase resonates with me (forgive me if I’ve taken it out of context)-- my networks and connections have grown and my understanding deepened, not in ways perhaps of others in the course yet meaningful for me. I’m wondering if what I’ve experienced isn't encompassed by the openness and autonomy of connectivism?
"What some learners fail to see is the value in the processing or navigating of the chaos, and this can be a huge stumbling block to their learning. …George Siemens believes self-organization in the face of chaos and making connections between sources of information is vital in today's climate of rapid information development and change.” --Sarah Stewart

Isn’t this quote from Sarah one key to understanding connectivism? Despite my novice status in the “content” of this course, I’ve created my “niche”; I’ve navigated the course and made connections in the way that best suits me, at this stage of my learning-- That holds value for me and has permitted me to get so far as to be able to wonder--

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