Is this an experiment in connectivism?

Action speaks louder than words.  So under connectivism, which is more important – action or words or both?

There is a Chinese motto: “One set of words could help a nation to prosper, and another set of poorly-chosen words could destroy a nation” I am not exaggerating, it happened in Chinese history when an emperor was overthrown due to his inappropriate wordings. That echoed strongly with Jenny’s assertion that “I could probably do them far more harm with a few ill-chosen words than I could with inappropriate action.” http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/that-cant-be-right/

I reckon this is also an experiment out of a bigger experiment. What do researchers need in an experiment? In our course – people, resources, apparatus, Moodle, Elluminate and Ustream sessions, assignments, networks, blogs, readings…. What are the researchers measuring? The posts and responses of the blogs of participants.  Discussion in forums, assignments.  The emotions. What are the others doing – including the lurkers? How about the other wikis created, facebook? And I am busily writing my blogs and responses to other blogs.

Have I missed anything? Oh yes- the final report. But we have to wait…..
Is power part of the experiment?
Is learning an experiment?

Is this an experiment in connectivism?
Finally, are we also experimenting?

How I see George and Stephen’s views in the UStream session Week8

After hearing the recordings from UStream, http://www.ustream.tv/channel/connectivism-and-connective-knowledge I found the presentation from George and Stephen quite interesting.

George thinks that a systemic approach to education is important so as to look after the interests of all stakeholders, not just the learners and educators, as education should be for the benefit of the society.  George thinks that authority, power, control in institutions and teachers is legitimate.  He thinks that if the action taken by Stephen is to happen in a typical university course, those mainstream students will just continue their discussion as usual, as it seems that it is just a normal practice to encourage learners’ participation.  George further thinks that participants should acquire such basic critical skills as filtering of information.  On this occasion, learners could take back the control simply by adding filter to the email inbox etc.

Stephen thinks that you won’t be able to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders.  Sometimes those stakeholders are not even aware of their roles.  So the focus of education would need to start with the learners.  Stephen thinks that the action he did was based on an “experimental” attempt to draw participants into forum discussion, and he feels that he has the authority to do so, and so it is an legitimate action.  He realised that some participants treated it as a sense of humour, others an abuse of power, and some others with a view mid way between.

My views are as follows:

I volunteer myself to participate in forum discussion, and I love sharing my learning with others.  So, I am not too bother with auto-subscription once Stephen has revealed his real intention.

However, some participants are upset with such auto-subscribe action not only because of a sudden change in the “learning practice” (i.e. with no prior consultation or notification), but that their mailbox (work or personal) are suddenly flooded with unwanted or unexpected emails.  I understand how frustrating it could be, especially when one has to distinguish such mails from the work emails.   

I hope his future intention of switching to auto-subscribe is not for the sake of “forcing participants” to participate in the forum discussion.  But a spirit of inspiring participants to learn, engage or connect with others more conspicously.  Nevertheless, this experiment becomes a good lesson for everyone.

As an educator and leader.  I always start with my learners.  What are their backgrounds – knowledge and experience?  What are their goals, needs and expectations?  How could I customise the educational and learning resources to suit their needs?  What are their preferred learning strategies? How could I support my learners in their learning journey?  In this regard, I seem to share similar views with Stephen in his more liberating way of thinking of learning – with learners first for adult education, especially when it comes to personal learning, assisted with personal management systems and technology.  

In an educational institution, both educators and learners could enjoy autonomy, diversity etc. in teaching and learning because of the use of new information and communication technology.  And one could make use of the network to access and learn new knowledge at will.  So authority, power and control issues could still be under the control of the educators and learners.

However, when it comes to business, authority, power and control are much more complicated, due to various social, political, economical issues at a system level and power issues relating to one’s roles and accountability with various parties.  In this connection, the organisation’s or “group’s”  rules are the most important ones to comply with.  Non-conformance or non-compliance to rules and regulations to Education and Accreditation standards, AQTF (Australian Quality Training Framework) or ISO9001 (2000) etc. would lead to the closure of an educational institution.  So, irrespective of whatever transformation one would like to pursue, in education, the bottom line may be:

1. Has the education and learning programs or curriculum met all legislative requirements?

2. Has the institution satisfied the learner’s needs and expectations?

3. Has the institution incorporated innovative and continuous improvement strategies and practice in its system (including people, technology, processes and procedures, administration, facilities etc)?

In this regard, I tend to favour George’s concept of incorporation of networking practice or connectivism with formal education at a systemic level as a vision.  

I would however think that individual practice of “connectivism” would likely be more successful (and could be more readily achievable) rather than the systemic application of Connectivism at this stage of development.  I think we are still at an infancy stage of Web2.0 application and learning management systems.  More resources and training for both leaders, educators, administrators, and learners are required to allow for the gradual introduction of e-learning and Web2.0 practice be assimilated into formal education.  Full support from institutional leaders and government is required for sustainable  transformation in education and learning.

What do you see will be the future of connectivism – in learning and education?