CCK09-Learning as Thinking about Knowledge – Part 2

Knowledge and how it is constructed during the distributed learning process: a re-examination.

For adolescents to think about knowledge in a thoughtful way, four conditions should be in place (Bransford et al. 1999; Caine and Caine 1997; Jensen, 1998; Perkins 1992)
1. The knowledge needs to be substantive and considered “worthy” of adolescent thought
2. Adolescents should be expected to think critically about the knowledge they are acquiring
3. Adolescents need an opportunity to construct and understanding of the knowledge in collaboration with others, including the teacher
4. The classroom climate should be conducive to intellectual, social and emotional growth

Upon reflection, what I would like to critically examine is whether knowledge could be acquired or not. Under  connectivism, knowledge is distributed across the network and learning refers to the connections that are formed through the navigation of information over the networks.

So item 2 would need to be revised as: Adolescents should be expected to think critically about the information and distributed knowledge over the networks.

Item 3 could also need to be revised, as self organised learning, self-determined learning, and peer-to-peer learning with Web 2.0 tools is ubiquitous, even without the presence of a “teacher”.  So item 3 would become: Adolescents need an opportunity to construct and traverse across the networks, explore and recognise the patterns (knowledge) upon reflections, with oneself and others.  Repurposing, remixing, recreation and redistribution of distributed “information and knowledge” would be part of the basis of connective knowledge and learning under a connectivist approach

Item 4 also need to be revised to: The “social classroom”, social groups and or networks or social/learning communities should be conducive to intellectual, social and emotional growth.

Knowledge is related to pattern and learning is related to recognition.

Can you recognise the following patterns?




CCK09-Groups versus Networks

It’s interesting to reflect on this Stephen’s Groups versus Networks

How far does it reflect the reality?

Let me reflect on what happens inside and outside organisation.

Group (Myths or Reality?)

– more successful inside organisation, but not necessarily outside organisation – why? Inside an organisation, people are to follow the vision and mission statement, adopt the strategies and act on strategic plans, work as a team, and innovate and improve also within the team boundary, with goals and projects.  The organisation would value team work and collaboration amongst teams.  However, there is always the danger of group think in a group or team.

Networks (Myths  or Reality?)

– more successful outside organisation, with other networkers, but not necessarily inside organisation – why?  Outside an organisation, networkers could explore their “dreams” with people of different backgrounds, fields and expertise, especially with others who might have a common interests or a diverse fields of interests.  Networkers could exercise full autonomy without constraints, or they could join or leave different networks at any time, or be connected with any one and with more openness due to relatively low conflicts of interests (as compared with those working colleagues, superiors etc.). So connectivity may be more highly valued than that in groups inside organisation.

This is the network that I perceived:

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This is the group that I perceived:


This is how I perceive myself as an individual (to stay with the group and or network):


How about you?

CCK09- Connectivism – Building a Circuit Diagram for the Brain

This Building a Circuit Diagram for the Brain provides a fantastic explanation about learning.

So, in learning, it involves neurons, synapse, circuits and stimulus.

These may be of interests to us:

Retention of learning

Generation of learning

Reversal of learning

Does this help in understanding human learning (at the neuronal or neural level)?





CCK09- Connectivism – My response to Nicola

This is a response to Nicola on her post on yin yang of CCK09.
Glad to learn about your practice of martial arts.  I know very little about it, though I always enjoy watching it.  I could only play with Wii, just for fun, with the virtual boxing.

Even after a year, my confusion with connectivism is still with me… mainly because it is based on the chaos and complexity theory, where each of us could flap our wings, and so most of the surprises are unpredictable, like the weather, and are emergent..even with the patterns that emerged.  So connections create meaning (at social level), but the meaning is in the networks (at neural or neuronal level).  The connections only make sense in “meaning” when it is perceived and interpreted by the connectors (nodes) or networks upon interaction.  That sounds complicated, and even complex – or further confusion… because every one could interpret these differently.  So, my view is: each of us could interpret connectivism differently, depending on your angles, your emotions, your context, and your attitudes towards connections, and networks, people. 


How about the metaphor of a coin as a way to connect under connectivism?

In a coin, the 2 sides (top and bottom) represent the yin and yang of our voices, and the rim represents the multiple perspectives of each of us (both tacit and explicit ones).

When each of us interact in the networks, as shown in this piling up of coins, we could all see and sense that it’s yin and yang interacting with each other, surrounding us with more perspectives of the networks.  The emergence would be: toppling of the coins, or alignment of all coins.  However, if the coins are all piled up too high, then sooner or later, the whole pile could collapse.  This is similar to the information or connections overload, when too many coins are in “connection” with each other.  So we may need to focus on the similar coins, and pile the coins with care to maintain stability.  Would that explain why limited connections is better for us? 

the compass


Another metaphor that could be useful to illustrate this would be connectivism as magnets – the polarity of nature, that magnetism exhibits on earth and in ferrous alloys.

Such polarity of views and perspectives (or different voices of individuals) could also be represented in the form of yin yang or the north and south poles.  Like poles repel and unlike poles attract.

The compass is where all these “connections” are connected to show the directions.  In this case, the context, the actual position and the actors (people, tools, resources, artifacts) are all inter-dependent and important in guiding us.

magnetic system bones from John Burton

Still pondering….

CCK09-On-line education

This article on online education  provides good food for thoughts.  Despite efforts in running an online education course for the university teachers (25), there were many dropouts (10 out of 25 or 40%), with only 15 passing the course -( 60% success rate).


1. In an invitation to flexible education teachers must clearly describe how the course is structured and what is expected of the students.

 2. Do not expect all course participants to be active in discussions, but make up pair assignments in which the participants are encouraged to discuss.

3. The platform is of central importance. Make sure the entire course team stands behind the system and that the platform fulfils the demands required by the course structure.

4. Formulate common assignments in which the students get together.

5. Give each student a mentor, so that every course leader clearly knows which students he or she is specially responsible for.

6. Use different methods to regularly confirm, involve and encourage the group as well as the individual, for example by emphasizing some activities in weekly summarizing letters (for which the students themselves may be responsible).

online education from gbiteam6

My thoughts are

(1) The teacher education course has been run using a “teacher centred approach”, perhaps without sufficient consideration of the actual needs and expectations of the in-service teachers. The lack of time and heavy loading is surely an issue for most practising teachers, and so a flexible approach in catering for these teachers’ needs must be taken into consideration. The use of a learner-centred approach would have surely “remedied” the situation. The teachers might not have considered themselves as learners in the process, and so might have missed the opportunities to learn from the colleagues (practising teachers) on their motivation (What is in it for me – WIIFM) and appreciate their potential contribution to knowledge construction and community building. The teachers could have adopted the notion of being a node in the network, sensing the various inputs from these practising teachers, and acting on them to turn it into a valuable teaching and learning experience.

(2) A lack of understanding of the chaos and complexity theory (and the principles involved) and the emergence theory amongst both the teacher trainer and the practising student teachers. Despite “all efforts” in planning and delivering the course by the teacher trainers, the lack of a clear focus and direction (in the course aim, assignment and the delivery methods) as perceived and felt by the student teachers might have led to the dropouts. The taking out of those inactive enrolled teachers from course surely might have helped the teacher trainers in getting rid of those learners who didn’t appear to be enthusiastic, but this would not have helped the learners in further development.

(3) Mentoring, learning development action plan, on-going skills development in ICT is critical to success in such a development program. However, horses for the courses need to be considered, rather than one size suits all, in dealing with such teacher training program. The pairing of learners for projects is surely a good idea. What might be a better option is a Community or Network of Practice approach towards teacher training coupled with unconference, unseminars, and face-to-face orientation and workshops. Other option could be the set up and nurturing of action research teams amongst learners, which focuses on particular aspects of education and learning.

(4) Think global, but act local might be a practical way for development of individual teachers. Rather than the adoption of one single approach towards teacher training – using a structured course, it would be imperative to encourage and support the teachers to immerse into the global educational and social networks, communities or network of practice and wayfinding throughout the course. The development of PLN (Personal Learning Networks) (with Blogs and microblogs – twitters, faceback, and other Web 2.0 tools) needs to be based on an ontological reflective approach.

(5) It would be better for the learning of such complex skills to emerge out of the interaction so the learners become both contributor and consumption of information and creator of knowledge. This would encourage teachers to appreciate and refine their metacognitive skills that they have acquired or would be acquiring throughout their lifelong learning and development.

(6) It is important to focus on the compliance to certain educational policy or procedures, from a teacher training or management point of view. However, the paradigm shift from a teacher centred training to learner centred training is fundamental in making such program a success. Otherwise, it would lead to programs such as “No students left behind” sort of “pedagogy” with slogan where teachers would find it both frustrating and unrealistic to achieve. Though compliance is important (for auditing and development reasons), what is more important is the support of a culture of personal learning development (a sense of collaboration and PLN encouraged and supported amongst educators, both locally and globally, via social and educational networks and community of practice IMHO)


CCK09-What is new about Connectivism (rev1) 2009?

In The Recognition Factor by Stephen Downes

Knowledge is like recognition

Learning is like perception

the acquisition of new patterns of connectivity through experience

























Connectivism is new in that it is:

about the distribution of knowledge in the network and oneself (including our brain – your and my brain), and the solution lies in one’s brain. All problems and solutions are there in the brain – your brain if you want to solve the problem, and my brain if it is my problem and solution.  And what connectivism differs from other learning theories is that we could connect one’s brain to others’ “brains” that will lead to continuously improved and innovative solutions for me and the network in this digital age – networks including yourself with collective wisdom with emergent knowledge. 

This relates back to what connectivism is: Knowledge distributed, learning as networked process (i.e. forming connections), principles form base of all design.  And the three levels: Neural, Conceptual and External (people, information sources etc. (Siemens, 2008)



about choices:  The focus is on choice of connections and the network process, rather than just the outcome.  A person could choose amongst the connections and networks to suit and improve his or her learning.  See multiple choice in the other post in

about and around the learner: education, learning is now related back to the learner, with teaching and/or facilitating as a support and network, technology as enabler.  You may even claim it as a wholely learner-centred approach to learning.  And the best way to learn relates back to the learner – individualised learning based on learning styles, intelligences (the mulitiple intelligences one has) and connections – network associated with, and his/her choice of support and technology.

CCK09-Learning Styles – do they matter?

Is learning styles a bunk? See this Daniel Willingham post on learning styles

Daniel writes:

Consider this analogy. Watch kids on a museum field trip and you’ll notice that they stop to look at different paintings: some like cubism, some like impressionism, some like the Old Masters, and so on.

You would not conclude that these kids have different visual systems. You’d figure that these differences were due to the children’s backgrounds, their personalities, tastes, and so on.

The same seems to be true of learning.

Some lessons click with one child and not with another, but not because of an enduring bias or predisposition in the way the child learns. The lesson clicks or doesn’t because of the knowledge the child brought to the lesson, his interests, or other factors.

When you think about it, the theory of learning styles doesn’t really celebrate the differences among children: On the contrary, the point is to categorize kids.

Each child is to be categorized as one of three types of learners. Categorization might be worth it if the categories were accurate, and therefore provided information that would help teachers. But the categories are meaningless.

Suggesting that teachers cater to learning styles—when teachers must already do some differentiation based on what students know—makes a teacher’s job much more difficult with no benefit to students.

Yet teachers are still asked to do it.

I think learning style is important in online learning for all ages.  We would share our research findings on this soon.

Would learning style be important in kids or teens learning? I would argue that learning style do have a significant impact on young learners. For instance, some learners prefer reading, whilst others prefer listening, or watching, and others prefer doing in their learning of a skill or learning “knowledge”. If we put dancers into a classroom, and ask them to read the dancing techniques, what would be the outcome? Dancers could learn best by dancing, not by reading.  Showing videos of dancing to the dancers would also help them in learning how to dance. So, exposing learners with various media do cater for their preferred learning styles, and assist them in developing their learning skills.

Though it is very difficult to vary the teaching method to cater for individual learning style in a classroom, it doesn’t stop us from re-designing our teaching. We could consider learning methods that would cater for their learning styles instead. So, teaching could be broadened to consider the learning space, rather than thinking about teaching, and the teaching methods. 

May be for centuries, teachers have been thinking about the “best practice” or teaching pedagogy, and have missed out that self-determined learning or heutagogy, (see also andragogy to heutagogy ,) could be equally useful and important when designing their instruction, teaching, or learning.

So, how about a design that  focuses around learning rather than instruction? Instead of instructional design, how about learning design that is based on a learning space?  The Personal Learning Network (PLN) is just the starting point to develop such a learning design platform and space.  The provision of choice in learning space for the learners would surely stimulate their interests in learning that matches their learning styles. One-on-one online mentoring may also be incorporated to allow the learners to explore their individual learning styles.

Such PLN and an adaptive style towards learning would keep track of the fast changing learning landscape, when the learners are immersed into those networks on a life-long and life-wide basis.

Do learning styles matter for you?  Which type of media appeals best to you in your learning?  What sort of PLN suits your learning style?