What is Connectivism?

It is the idea that…

  1. Knowledge is networked and distributed
  2. The experience of learning is one of forming your own neural, conceptual and external networks
  3. Learning occurs in complex, chaotic and shifting spaces
  4. And that it is increasingly aided by technology

Siemens (2008), via Connectivism – Personal Learning Networks for 21st Century Teachers

Posted to Diigo 04/11/2010

    • PLEs aren’t an entity, structural object or software program in the sense of a learning management system. Essentially, they are a collection of tools, brought together under the conceptual notion of openness, interoperability, and learner control. As such, they are comprised of two elements – the tools and the conceptual notions that drive how and why we select individual parts. PLEs are a concept-entity. Problem is, however, that we are discussing PLEs as if they were solely an entity – so we compare PLEs with an LMS and other entity-based learning tools…but if PLEs exist at all, they are very personalized and individual
    • if you want to communicate your ideas in a way that makes an impact, then craft messages that embrace storytelling, are simple, concrete, credible, emotional, and have an element of unexpectedness. In the video below, Dan reminds presenters to (1) be simple (without being simplistic), (2) show something, and (3) tease before you tell.
    • Siemens (2007) stresses PLEs comprise of two elements; the tools themselves and the conceptual factors which drive them, such as openness, interoperability, and learner control.
    • First, it isn’t impossible to teach people facts.
    • A great deal of our education today in fact turns on this very proposition: it consists of the teaching of facts, and the testing for recall of those facts.
    • Second, it isn’t wrong to teach facts. Or (perhaps more accurately) to learn facts.
    • Teaching children facts is a great shortcut, the great shortcut, in human development.
    • Third, we need facts to do stuff.
    • To do anything, you need to know stuff.
    • while it is necessary (and possible) to teach facts to people, it comes with a price. And the price is this: facts learned in this way, and especially by rote, and especially at a younger age, take a direct route into the mind, and bypass a person’s critical and reflective capacities, and indeed, become a part of those capacities in the future.
    • When you teach children facts as facts, and when you do it through a process of study and drill, it doesn’t occur to children to question whether or not those facts are true, or appropriate, or moral, or legal, or anything else. Rote learning is a short circuit into the brain. It’s direct programming.
    • We know now – and, indeed, have probably always known – that an education based strictly and solely in facts is insufficient. The reasons are legion, but I will focus on six major points:
    • First. There are more facts in the world than anyone could know, which means that we need to be able to find facts that we do not already know.
    • Second. As time passes, facts change, and so we need the capacity to know when facts change and to be able to update our own knowledge of these facts.
    • Third. And as the number of people, and the amount of information, in the world increases, we need some mechanism for selecting which facts we will be exposed to, and how to filter out irrelevant facts. We need to be able to determine what is salient or important to ourselves and to others.
    • Fourth. Even more critically, not every bit of information presented to you in life will be a fact, and you need some mechansism to detect and reject false representations of facts.
    • Fifth. Additionally, we need to know which, of the many facts we have in our possession, constitute a basis for action. We need some sense of, and mechanism for, agency in the world, a sense that we can not only receive, input and assess facts, but that we can create facts in the world.
    • Sixth. Finally, we need the capacity to act, which may mean some physical activity, or may mean some communicative activity, a set of abilities we can place under the heading of empowerment
    • no library is large enough to hold all the facts. You need a new skill, a way to access the facts you need from an ocean of facts
    • You need new skills to keep track of how what you know has changed, and the skills of a person who simply accumulates facts are insufficient.
    • You need new skills to be able to select and prioritize information, and the skills of a person who just watched and learned are not enough.
    • In the 21st century, there are more types of reasoning, and they must be used by more people.
    • We need to be able to turn our knowledge into these and other sorts of skills very quickly. And more and more people need to be able to learn these skills.
    • The skills we need in order to simply act are far more than what used to be required, and are needed by far more people.
    • Spending a lot of time teaching facts could be justified, because people needed basic knowledge to survive in an industrial world, needed to be able to understand the basics of language and literature, science and mathematics, and – crucially – not much more.
    • Today, the situation has completely turned around because of the six factors identified above. People need such greater capacities in literacy, learning, prioitizing, evaluation, planning and acting. And as their need for these dynamic skills and capacities increases, their need for facts decreases. Indeed, the more these skills are needed, the more the teaching of facts as facts actually impairs the teaching of these skills. The more static our teaching, the less dynamic the learner can be.
    • Think about the problems you’ve created by depending on a library, by depending on an information system in which facts are impressed on a storage medium:
    • – you have to buy new books to get new information, an ongoing and expensive activity

      – your books don’t update, and you have no real way of knowing when any bit of a book is out of date

      – you have no good means of choosing which books to buy; you can handle your local bookstore, but the thought of a library with a trillion books is frightening

      – you have no way of knowing whether something in a book is true or false

      – you have no way to move beyond ‘book learning’, and nothing in the book tells you when you should do something (your actions are underdetermined by your knowledge; should you believe the sceptic, who says there is no floor, or the alarmist, who says the building is on fire?)

      – you can’t develop skills; despite reading all about ‘bicycle riding’ you still fall over

      You need, in other words, need to acquire facts in a format appropriate to your knowledge system.

    • That facts are not beyond questioning, and that facts not only should be questioned, they must be questioned. The common core people want the means and the ability to implant unquestioned truths into the minds of children, and this in an environment where the possession of unquestioned truths becomes to be more and more of a handicap, an impediment, a barrier to personal growth and prosperity.
    • They want to use children to promote their own political agenda, rather than to enable children to have lives, beliefs and faiths of their own.

      What we have learned – what we are understanding, uniquely, in the 21st century – is that the nature of facts is very different from anything we thought before:

    • First. Facts are not simply read, they are not simply expressed in language, and they are not independent of the means in which they are expressed.
    • literacy involves not only reading books, but reading faces, photos, idea, omens and portents, signs, between the lines, and much, much more
    • Second. Facts change. There is no simple hierarchy of facts, with some facts being universally true in all cases (because the same fact, represented differently, becomes a different fact, meaning something different).
    • At any given time, we only have a point of view, a perspective, a way of seeing a fact
    • Third. Some facts are important and some facts are not.
    • And different facts are important to different people, and there is no single set of facts – none – that is important to everybody.
    • Fourth. There is no easy way to determine what is a fact and what is a misrepresentation, but there are ways, and these ways are accessible to everybody.
    • Detecting deception is a skill
    • Fifth. You need to be able to decide.
    • Sixth. You need to have the capacity to act.
    • We are in a period of transition. We still to a great degree treat facts as things and of education as the acquisition of those things. But more and more, as our work, homes and lives become increasingly complex, we see this understanding becoming not only increasingly obsolete, but increasingly an impediment.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Connectivism and connective knowledge, 2009

I just registered for the Connectivism and connective knowledge (CCK09) course that’s going to start in September.  I first came across it when I did the Mozilla open education course earlier this year and have been keeping an eye on it in the meantime.  It’s a massively open online course that so far has 1000+ registered participants, and is hosted by George Siemens and Steven Downes.

From the 2008 course outline, the Connectivism and connective knowledge course is a “…twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future.”

Here’s the syllabus for the 2008 course, and the Moodle outline.  If you register for the CCK09 course, let me know so that we can keep in touch.