Reflection on the role of learners in networks – Connectivism in practice

When I reflected on what has happened in our CCK08, http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=668&action=article, where interaction and contribution of readers and learners were encouraged,  what I realised was a cautionary approach in the interaction between co-learners.  Whenever someone is trying to adopt a teaching approach, there would be a “tension” developed mainly because the co-learner has not been prepared or able to accept the “teacher-learner” or “expert – learner” role.  The learners might be preferring to adopt a “peer to peer” or “learner to co-learner” approach in learning on some occasions.  This seems also is the case in blogs, when the readers or co-learners were responding or commenting on each others’ blogs.  I have already noted numerous feedback from the blogs.  See my discussion in the forum on the different roles one may have in a network:  http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=956  Also, see Frances Bell’s comments on group and network discussion in  http://eduspaces.net/francesbell/weblog/485692.html and the forum discussion on groups and networks posted by Ailsa Haxell on passion vs reason. http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=956, where there were interesting and heated debates on passion and reason amongst teachers, learners and co-learners.  And the follow up discussion and debate via the blog by Terry Anderson:  http://terrya.edublogs.org/2008/10/20/more-on-groups-versus-networks-and-collectives/

Is such role conflict an issue in your teaching or learning?

If there are such role conflicts in networking or web 2.0 applications, what do you think will be some better ways to resolve them?

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A shift in learning and teaching paradigm

Hi Jenny, http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/
Thanks for your insights.  I agree with you that trainee teachers would find this very hard, since they might be pressured by their master teacher trainer to demonstrate competency in teaching rather than learning (i.e. just helping the learner to learn).  I had been in that situation on a few occasions, when I took the teacher training programs.  It was really stressful on those occasions, and could even be confusing if one is exposed to different learning theories and practices.  But once a teacher has gained some confidence and practice in the basic teaching techniques, there is no reason why one could not proceed to  the next stage, and develop more advanced skills in inspiring the learners in acquiring the metacognition skills.  Besides, this would assist the learners to choose their learning options, and thus improve their learning progressively.  This could be achieved if learners are proactive in the formal and informal learning through blogs, wikis, forum discussion etc.  These could also augment the formal lesson (if the teaching is still institutionally based), whereas assessment could be done more effectively.  I could see such changes happening in a number of institutions, when I browsed through the blogs and wikis.  See http://construction10.wikispaces.com/Assignments 

Such an approach is also suggested by Tom Whyte http://whereoldmeetsnow.edublogs.org/2008/10/16/groups-into-networks-new-curriculum-needed-cck08/

The process of moving the students forward from a group setting to a network will be required, so will an educator familiar with both.  For this process to properly occur, curriculum will need to be specifically designed and implemented, taking into account, emerging technologies and student safety within an online environment. 

Terry Anderson’s further emphasises the needs of exposing students to groups, networks and collectives in learning. http://terrya.edublogs.org/2008/10/20/more-on-groups-versus-networks-and-collectives/

Being able to differentiate amongst the three and insuring that learners have experience of learning in all three contexts is an important function of the teachers’ role in formal education.

So, an exposure of students to a networking environment is preparing them for a life based and life long education.

I have also found a trend in moving into online and distance education when learners are no longer satisfied with the traditional classroom delivery.  See

Online and Distance Education, Serious Games, Simulations, Mobile Learning

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.  http://mlearners.com/

Do you see this as a trend for adult education?

So I think this is not only a shift in learning paradigm, it could even be a shift in teaching paradigm, in that both teachers and learners have their voices, in the teaching and learning process, especially in networking.   This is already happening in this CCK08 course, and also in a number of University courses.  See Michael Wesch’s class. http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do/

Time and cases will tell whether this is the case.   More researches would be necessary to validate these “hypothesis” and claims.
Do you think there is a shift in teaching paradigm?  Do you think there is a need of Connectivism as a “new” “teaching theory”?   See Downes’ Educational Theory http://lnx.funteaching.it/moodle/file.php/1/Learning%20Networks%20and%20Connective%20Knowledge%20Stephen%20Downes/ANetworkPedagogy.html

What are your observations so far?

Some websites for you- on education, learning and connectivism

Here are some websites that you may find interest:

On-line education database

http://oedb.org/library/features/top-100-education-blogs

Wiki

http://t4tl.wikispaces.com/

On Connectivism

http://t4tl.wikispaces.com/Connectivism+

 On Web 2.0

Videos from Classroom 2.0: Koofers.com Demo Video (~4 minutes)

http://www.new.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=617683525163&oid=2259602350

Enjoy your favourite websites.  Have you found something that interest you?  You are welcome to share them with me.

If everyone is learning on their own, or with their network, what is the role of the teacher?

In response to Mike’s comments on:

http://techticker.net/2008/10/22/the-role-of-the-educator-and-institution-in-a-changing-educational-landscape/

Thanks for your response.  I agree with your views that such change will only happen slowly.  I have been a teacher since 1985, and have experienced a lot of changes in teaching and learning practices during the last 23 years.  Since 2000, I have been doing on-the-job training whereas there are practically no physical classes as such as the Universities.  I started with zero student (trainee) in 2000 to a few hundreds for the past years.  What I found was a fundamental shift in the learning paradigm, where learning is the key to education, rather than teaching.  I know my idealogy will be vehemently opposed by other instructivists, as well as other professional teachers, where they would feel threatened or might worry that they would lose their jobs.  Imagine, if everyone is learning on their own, what is the role of the teacher?  I shared such feelings in 2000, but has now been totally convinced that such thing would only happen if teachers are unwilling to accept and adapt to changes.  That is there is still an important role for every teacher to play, only that teachers must be flexible and proactive in meeting the learner’s needs.  In other words, I think best practice in teaching is based on a learner centred approach, where learner’s needs must come first.  Without learners, why employ teachers?  And without teachers, who would be guiding the learners (especially the kids and teenagers) the “right” values?  So, in summary, teachers must share their experience and knowledge with learners by putting learners first.  Remember, at some time, we were the learners, did we learn from our teachers?  For me, I must admit that I learn best from those teachers who are empathetic, and willing to understand my needs.  These are just my personal reflections, but I hope other teachers could understand why we are moving in such directions – towards a learner centred model of teaching and learning.  Is teaching still a noble profession?  What do you see will be the future of teachers?

Role of educational institutions and structure to support education and learning

This is my response to

http://techticker.net/2008/10/22/the-role-of-the-educator-and-institution-in-a-changing-educational-landscape/#comment-1649

It’s important to reflect on the role of educator and educational institutions such as universities and colleges.
I suppose that universities still play an important role in its accreditation of the courses and employment of professionals (professors, instructors, designers etc.) who would continue to serve the learners. I also think that there is a need to inverting the pyramid of hierarchical structure in that learners could be at the peak of the pyramid upon which all educational institutions and their infrastructure, professionals, technology and networks are means to support both education and learning of the individuals and the networks.
This could be a huge challenge to both the educational institutions, teaching and supporting professionals, networks and society. In this connection, both formal and informal education becomes the pillar of every individual and network, with the ultimate goal of serving the needs of the individuals and society.

My questions is: Do you think this would happen?

See Gina’s article http://gminks.edublogs.org/2008/10/22/the-cost-of-supporting-collaborative-project-spaces/ in which I also find interest in.

Her quote below:

However, is it possible some of this ties back to costs? I am pursuing my Master’s degree at a State University. Since the University is funded by the state, the institution has a responsibility to act in a responsible fiscal manner. Providing on on ramp to the Internet, creating the project spaces, and maintaining all of these things costs money. You have to pay for the servers, the cables, data storage arrays, software, and for the people to run and support all of this. Some of the “walling” must also come because there is a limit to what can be supported, and who can be allowed to access the tools.

Additionally, if someone is paying to go to that institution, they should be afforded priority access to University’s on ramp to the Superhighway. That doesn’t mean one person should get the biggest lane, which is way access to some tools such as Bit Torrent is restricted.

My question is: Are there any need of differentiated strategies in terms of customers’ contribution to the institutions as mentioned by Gina?  How does it impact on the educational infrastructure?  And what are the “costs” and “value” (the qualifications in particular) to both individuals and society?

Complexity Theory of Learning – Our learning ecology, environment and technology affordance

This is my response to pierfranco ravotto http://teacker.blogspot.com/

I like your summary of the views. At times, I realise that learning itself is both complex and chaotic mainly because of the world we are living in, with that plenty of technology affordance, “attractions” and “distractions” that lead us to think in such a way. If I were to live 100 hundred years ago, would it be the same? So my view is that context, environment, learning ecology and the network that one and the network is involved in will all shape our perspectives on the complexity and chaotic “nature of learning”. Do we have the “chicken first or the egg first?” I would reckon the environment (or the learning ecology) will shape our thoughts, whereas our perspectives will also shape the “thinking” and “direction” of the network. There are impacts and influence both from individuals and networks – which shape the learning and social networks, learning ecology, and the world on education and learning.

To what extent do you think an understanding of complexity and chaos could help the teachers in the teaching and learning process?

Psychologoical aspects of connectivism – Human and Ecology

 

This is my response to Jenny’s blog on connectively – defeated – again.

http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/connectively-defeated-again/

Hi Jenny,

I feel sorry for that failed connection you experienced.  This is similar to the feeling that we have when our trusted friend failed to turn up in an appointment on time. 

So, I think you have touched deeply on the human side of connectivism.  That’s sometimes we experienced disappointments due to the failure of technology affordance.

 

I have also visited Ailsa’s blog, and have responded to hers’ in my blog.

I have always pondered on the psychological impacts of connectivism on people and networks (social and all other related community of practice) (but that is beyond behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, or even social constructivism etc. because they have not fully addressed the technology affordance at the time of their creation). 

I am aware that “connectivists” may think that such psychological approach will temper the “new learning theory” but still think this is absolutely necessary to off set the side (or negative) effects due to connectivism.

Do you think such an “art” and “science” of human aspects in connectivism be useful?

Cheers.

Further question:

What’s the impact of connectivism on ecology?  Educational reform, policies… Curriculum… Education….