#CCK09 First Paper (Draft): 'Positioning' Connectivism

Context

This brief, largely informal and reflective (draft) paper for the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Courseis written with the intention of positioning Connectivism in context, for educational leaders intent on developing new pedagogy in Australian schools appropriate to the digital age.  It is perhaps, not what was intended for this assignment but is an accurate reflection of my perceptions of the importance of Connectivism.

I

Connectivism provides a  framework for teaching and learning that helps make sense of the impact of digital technologies on society, education systems, learning, teachers and students.  Many teachers are skeptical about theory and are often not able to articulate what informs their practice. Connectivism is a theory that encourages the individual (node) to engage in learning by doing, similar to Constructivism (scroll down) but with more emphasis on networks and digital technologies.

The deployment of technology into high schools, after a lengthy gestation period, is rapidly accentuating the ever-widening new digital divide between teachers. Learning professionals actively engaged using the internet, web 2.0 and digital technologies, in their professional and personal lives, are positioned to continue to update their pedagogical knowledge and skills because they are networked and actively learning.

Unfortunately, it is a challenge and concern that the technophobic and disengaged are such a sizeable minority of educators. Mostly, they are not a philosophically disinclined neo-luddite movement but are unlikely to update their professional skills without considerable support, encouragement and a framework that increases understanding of the digital revolution and societal changes that are in evidence.

Too many of this technologically disengaged group are in leadership positions and this is of great concern.

 II

Connectivism has the potential to develop the theoretical understandings that teachers have of the impact of digital technologies, especially the internet, on learning in order to improve their pedagogy.

Many systems, leaders and teachers equate professional development with learning ‘how to’ use hardware, software and online tools rather than the pedagogical uses of these tools and new ways of thinking.

Connectivism has the potential to develop learning professionals to the level they are comfortable with, for some this may be highly sophisticated, for others, just the rudiments of the theory.

The key points of Connectivism that need to be explicitly understood are more than can be listed here but it is important that one recognises:

  • ‘Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity’
  • Learning is distributed across ‘connections’, in the widest possible sense of the word
  • Learning develops as connections are made, in the mind and across society
  • Learning is composed of interactions
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances
  • Constructing a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or Personal Learning Network (PLN) using an ever-changing set of tools is a practical skill that can be employed by students and teachers

Personally, when first reading about Connectivism, it all just made sense and fitted with my values, knowledge and beliefs, especially the importance of distributed leadership, dialogism, constructivist learning, new media and post structuralist ideas.

The media theories of Marshall McLuhan and social constructivism resulting from Lev Vygotsky’s writings, inform my thinking as a learning professional. Experiences in the classroom and with implementing traditional content based syllabi convince that educational systems need to change and educators operate in a different, networked manner, using technology, if students are to learn effectively.

More importantly, if we are to create life-long learners who can cope with the rapidly decreasing ’half-life of knowledge’, change needs to occur.

Conclusion

Teachers and educational leaders who experience a ‘Connectivism course’, like the #CCK09, may have many questions that remained unanswered in relation to the current realities of the bricks and mortar institution where they work as educators. However, change, glacial as it sometimes seems, would be framed by a learning theory and pedagogical view appropriate for our digital age.

 

References

Stephen Downes, A quick introduction to connectivism(ustream)

 
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964 (2006)
 
 
 
 
Share

DISCLAIMER

The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

11 Comments

  1. darcymoore:

    This paper is not due until later in the month and I would appreciate criticism and feedback.

  2. Hi Darcy,

    It reads really well. Your blog provides a great resource for teachers throughout all education sectors.

    Are there any holes or problems that you can identify with connectivism?

  3. darcymoore:

    Thanks Dean.

    Thanks Nicola. I am going to add a section that addresses the point you make about the issues/problems.

  4. Hello Darcy,

    I think your paper helps to position one of the challenges that connectivism raises in terms of the growing digital divide between teachers who are engaged in professional development and reflection in this area and those that are not.

    I would also be interested to know if you have ‘unanswered questions’ about your own institution as a result of following the course. I have also been participating and am particularly interested in the implications of a co-curricular approach to course design, assessment etc. I’d like to know more about your views on the implications for the ‘bricks and mortar’ of educational institutions because I think this course adds weight to arguments that call for a radical rethinking of how most schools, colleges and universities are structured.

    Thanks for recommending this course, I have found the readings and format really engaging.

    Colin Campbell

  5. I have enjoyed reading the post as well, and Nicola and Colin´s comments were very enlightening. I would also find it very interesting to hear more real-life examples of how teachers and students are reacting to the changes. When you say “change needs to occur”, what kind of change are you thinking of? If you could structure this into specific steps or requirements I think you would be adding an extra value.

  6. darcymoore:

    Thanks Colin and Leila.

    I need to address more ‘the implications’ for institutions that Colin mentions and identify, as Leila suggests, what “change needs to occur” in the classroom/learning in my next draft.

  7. Thanks for the invite to read this. I agree with the sentiment. I too have found it frustrating when others seem too preoccupied with getting through the working day to appreciate how education might be reshaped, thoughtfully, with regard to the ways in which connections may or may not be facilitated. Indeed, such concerns led me into my PhD looking at change and how it is both shaped and shaping thos involved.
    A pedantic bit of feedback on my part, but i trust you are wanting constructive suggestions to make it better :)
    You would strengthen this if the references made to vygotsky and Mcluhan identify what it was they had said that was important rather than lightly saying that they inform your thinking.
    But hey, you are better than me…i’m skipping the work this year and only using the course to strengthen my ability to talk actor network theory.
    Best wishes,
    ailsa

  8. Imelda Judge:

    (I placed this on Yammer but thought it belonged here too!) I was inspired when I read this on an earlier blog post of yours Darcy… and continue to be inspired!. I have had to get on board myself. Didn’t feel natural at first but now it is! I was thinking of this the other day and firmly believe that change is only change if you perceive something to be alien to who you are. All innovative teachers would not perceive connectivism to be a ‘change’ because they naturally adopt this as part of their pedagogy; they believe they have to in order to offer our students the best they have to give. So those who don’t embrace connectivism….!!!!???
    As a very busy mum of four who works full time and runs a lot of extra- curricular activities at school I have found it almost impossible to ‘take time out to educate myself and trial programs, or test technology’. The only way was to learn with the students and with my own children at home! This is ‘connectivism’, in essence, where you accept that it is natural and (like Nike says) you ‘just do it!’

  9. Imelda Judge:

    How about.?-”in order to create life long learners we too have to be life long learners.”

    • Darcy Moore:

      Thanks for all this, Imelda. I always use this quote by the late, Garth Boomer:

      “We teach others by teaching ourselves anew”

Post a Comment

*
* (will not be published)


6 − = one

Random Posts

LOAD MORE
UA-6171563-2