Posted by: arieliondotcom | October 2, 2008

Paper 1: My Position on Connectivism

I believe that Connectivism, a learning theory proposed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, is a powerful reality of learning, but nothing new at all. It is, in fact, part of Creation, and a method GOD Himself has used, and uses today (as I hope to have shown in my blog entries throughout the course, examining the role of Connectivism in the History of Christian Missions).

As Siemens says, himself, in his paper “A brief history of networked learning”:

“The network structures now prominent in technology were previously served by social interactions, written scrolls, religious writings, and the communication structures of generals, kings, and emperors….”

There is, indeed, “nothing new under the sun”, and the sun itself and the planets that orbit it are testimony to the inter-relation of all things as individual yet connected entities made up themselves of individual yet connected entities down to the very molecular, atomic and chemical levels. That this should be used as a model for how human entities interact, gain and exchange knowledge, should be nothing unique.

I understand Siemens to say in his “What is Connectivism?” presentation that humanity has adapted Connectivism for learning because of needs to connect with others and to externalize information received in order to better manage the overwhelming amount received in this day and age. Connectivism is founded on “how we engage with others and how we interact with the world.” Knowledge, he says, is “essentially networked and distributed in nature.” We understand based on how well and often we connect to concepts and how well we integrate those concepts into knowledge/learning we’ve already gained through other connections. We learn through this network of connections.

As Stephen Downes says in his article “What is Connectivism?”

“…(C)onnectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.”

Through our “chat” discussions during Week 2 of the course I came to the opinion that the process of forming these connections, gaining information from them, and adapting them to one’s own context and needs is the basis of learning and turning learning into knowledge through its timely and relevant adaption. As I showed in my Concept Map for Week Three, then, Connectivism is (to me) the gaining of knowledge through networks of discrete information sources.

I am very new to learning theories, etc. so I am at a distinct disadvantage to many of the other participants, including those with PhDs in the education field. But I have managed (I think!) to identify some corollaries of those very theories and issues simply by exposure to them. For example, I thought of the issue of contagion of connections (Networks) which I mentioned in my blog of September 9, 2008 long before I read about it in the Daily for September 23rd. And I’ve been preaching about (my variation of) the “SPHERE” concept from David Pollard’s “Knowing Knowledge” long before I ever heard of it.

Because Connectivism is so much a part of the way things are, to me, I have a difficult time seeing how others disagree with it. Or at least in the objectivist view of it that I have. But apparently they do, based on the Kerr arguments that it just shows other learning theories need more examination and Connectivism needs more explanation, to Moodle discussions about Connectivism as redressed Behaviorism or the comments of “Catherine Contrary” (pick a Moodle topic, any Moodle topic to find one of those), etc.

The Rhizomatic Knowledge article and discussions with David Cormier seemed to say that different participants produce different results and therefore a different learning experience and different knowledge. That is looser than I am comfortable with, although I do agree in principle. I used it in a Second Life Cohort meeting discussion. While discussing “making” learning go in a certain direction, I recommended letting the participants of the group (and of the particular group at the time) direct the learning for the group at that time.

I see Connectivism as yet another expression of creatures tryintg to regain connection with each other and, ultimately, their Creator of Whom Saint Augustine says, “Thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in Thee.” I look forward to connecting more with others in the course and thereby learning more about myself and, ultimately, my relationship to Him and those He made me to serve.

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Responses

  1. My mother would agree with you. She read my blog post about communities of practice and scorned what us so called academics get up to. ‘Communities of practice? Nothing new about that. That’s what a church is’ . Good old mum!


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