Hi Tom, http://whereoldmeetsnow.edublogs.org/2008/10/29/control-issues-cck08/
I echoed with your views in that as an adult learner and professional teacher, I never like being told what to do, in a class without good reasons. And especially if someone else is trying to control my teaching/learning without my consent.
Throughout my 23 years of teaching (and learning), I have encountered different challenges, especially when teaching teenagers (around sixteenth to nineteenth). If the teenage learners are not ready to shoulder their responsibilities, then I would have to be patient in guiding them through in their learning journey. This includes teaching them the concept of mutual respect, self awareness and control through various activities and critique.
In a classroom where student discipline is still important, it could be a chaos if everyone is talking with each other on irrelevant topics (mere chatting on trivial matters, giggling etc) at the same time. Under such environment, the students could hardly concentrate in learning due to the noises and distractions, and no one could listen to the teacher’s instructions. So everyone loses. And what a waste of time and resources! That is poor education and learning.
Setting of ground rules in the first few lessons (with the adequate sharing of power) with the learners is important. A reminder of the ground rules in subsequent lessons will ensure learners are aware of their rights and responsibilities in a class. Adequate and regular reviews of such ground rules would deem to be necessary if there are constant disruptions in class lessons.
In order to avoid the boredom of lecturing, I often use small group discussions (with Socratic questioning) and collaborative and relevant learning activities to reinforce the learning points. This would then be followed by plenary discussion in which each group’s contribution is valued, shared and summarised. This allows my students to share their ideas, debate and report in a constructive and responsible manner. In this manner, power of learning is shared amongst the learners, and they would also see the power (of influencing) in a positive manner.
I see power associated with such action is not only legitimate, but necessary. I would not relegate my power as a teacher in the classroom to ensure that the environment is conducive to learning. And that’s how I maintain my integrity, accountability, and responsibility as a teacher. What do you think?
Are all the above issues absent in digital connections? I don’t think so. As discussed in Network logic http://www.demos.co.uk/files/networklogic.pdf , networking as a process is emergent, with weak ties and new connections forming in an amorphous manner.
“They are all around us. We rely on them. We are threatened by them. We are part of them. Networks shape our world, but they can be confusing: no obvious leader or centre, no familiar structure and no easy diagram to describe them. Networks self-organise, morphing and changing as they react to interference or breakdown.
Networks are the language of our times, but our institutions are not programmed to understand them.
As individuals, we have taken advantage of the new connections: to earn, learn, trade and travel. But collectively we don’t understand their logic.”
Racism, sexism, sex, pornography, violence, hatred and evils are floating around in different connections in the virtual world. Without adequate guidance from adults, are we sure that our teenage learners will not be attracted to those connections? What are we going to do about it? Can we police the evils? How can we ensure that our coming generations are able to discern such evils in digital networking?
Power of power
So, is connectivism still practical with K-12? http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=1048
My reflection of the views from Ruth, Jon, Jo, Carlos, Sharon, David, Ariel, Ken, Wendy and Catherine could be summarised as follows: power of a teacher in class is necessary in K-12, especially when teaching those learners who are still at a developmental stage (K-8). And that gradual sharing of power through negotiation is desirable when the learners become more mature.
So, I think connectivism still has a role to play, especially in the higher classes – grade 9 – 12 where students are ready to further develop their metacognition skills using information and communication technology (Web 2.0, search engines, mobiles, and internet etc). However, teachers would need to consider the feelings and emotions associated with such e-connections with their learners. And thus guide the learners in e-connecting with others or sources on the internet in a safe, and responsible manner. Discussion of feelings and reflection of learning on the internet could be shared and reported to the class, where merits and demerits of the use of technology are thoroughly critiqued and evaluated. This ensures that students appreciate the importance of mutual respects, trusts, choice of selection, critical thinking, e-ethics, and the implications of such e-learning in a virtual learning environment.
Learning in an inhumane manner via “improper connectivism” destroy us as a human. Because, we learn through our senses, emotions and feelings, and that make us a better person, not a better “machine”, which could be switched on or off. And we have empathy in which no computer network or artefacts could ever learn.
At the end, I would like to quote Jenny’s comments on her post on power, authority and control
I’d be much more concerned about the influence he could have on my thinking, i.e. his knowledge power, and whether that influence was appropriate for my learning and development as a human being.”
Thank you so much for your inspiring post. Great food for thought.
You are welcome to comment on my blog here on Power in class and networks: