EC&I831, Learning Community

At The Root of Connectivism

Connectivism is a pedagogy that I have latched onto for the realm of learning technologies. This is a new learning theory for the digital age, and is further defined by George Siemens as:

  • Knowledge as constellation of connections
  • Sense-making/way-finding
  • Network (social/technological) as assistive cognitive agent
  • Technology as externalization/extension

It’s not the tools that are relevant, but rather the connections made while learning.

Siemens made a guest appearance in the EC&I 831 course last week to discuss The Roots of Connectivism.

A few of the major points that I took away from George’s presentation include:

  • Learning is networked at 3 levels:
    • Conceptual-Cognitive: least developed; when ideas & concepts are combined together
    • Neural: biological; memories being formed as a sequence of connections (encoding in the brain)
    • Social-external: social network analysis, often completed by sociologist; external tools and resources to connect learning
  • Knowledge & learning as networked and emergent through:
    • Synchronicity – to understand how a student will learn is to understand & connect with their current knowledge & awareness
    • Amplification – participatory sense making & interaction with material creates learning at a deeper level
    • Resonance – why do students start to tune into learning a concept or new information? how do they connect with an association?
  • Educators need to understand connections at a very basic level to best learn how to influence connections for learning
    • What connections are?
    • How they form?
    • What attributes/structure they exhibit at formation?
    • What various formations mean?
George left the class with a few questions to ponder:
  • What are the implications for educators?
  • How do we “teach differently” in networks than we do in a classroom?
  • How should our priorities change in skill development?
  • As the field of networked learning grows, where do we turn for guidance direction?

Educators need to assess learning objectives to help students develop in the changing digital world. Instruction is not just about knowledge comprehension, but will shift to focus on acquisition of information and learner networks. “Teaching differently” will be instructional practice that encourages learners to think critically and engage in complex activities for deeper learning experiences. Learners will be challenged to connect meaning and knowledge that is currently known, to that of their shifting paradigm.

As networked learning continues to change educational environments, educators must empower their students to adapt and grow with the technologies . It will be up to the educators of today to remain current and connected to practitioners and  innovators in education who are leading the way. Whether it is following a stream of ideas on Twitter, reading the latest literature/publications, continuing professional development, taking an open-source course, or sharing ideas with online colleagues, educators who stay socially connected will provide engaged learning opportunities.

My quest to be a “Network Sherpa” for learners continues….

What are you doing to help your Networked Student connect to their learning today?

Connectivism video created by Wendy Drexler’s high school students inspired from George Siemens’ CCK08 Class.

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