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….

6 thoughts on “CCK09- Connectivism – My response to Nicola

  1. This is simply incredible, so powerful metaphors. If the coins are our voices then when piled carefully, it creates that natural harmony of voice and thought then natural laws such as gravity take over – where nature becomes self-correcting so the network also becomes self-correcting?

    I love the compass one – that sounds perfectly described in terms of the dualistic forces. Magnetic attraction, force and energy are elements of ‘ki’ or ‘chi’ but I would like to ask Ruth Demetrioff for clarification on this because in a comment on my blog she mentioned she had been learning tai chi for three years. My understanding of it is that you can transfer this from one to another through means of possible artifact – hands – doing the pushing hands movement.

    I don’t know if we can represent magnetism very well at the moment because visualizations of networks do not show electromagnetic waves. So the compass defines – directions of meaning being generated by the multiple perspectives ? And vulnerable to natural and artificial interference from other magnetic frequencies which can distort – maybe temporarily, the direction that a compass points?

    I like the formlessness of magnetism. Coincidentally one of my favourite martial arts bloggers today released a post about the tao “It is said that Tao is to seek and realize, and thereby equip the self with, these virtues. We might say that this is “Tao for the people.”
    If connectivism has the social meaning which you have described so beautifully above (I start to get it now – about the interpretation by others that creates meaning, thank you !), Rick also says that to understand ki, we must know tao, so to understand forces, we must understand the formlessness of connectivism ? Is that too far away?

    Such a wonderful post, a deeply felt thank you for opening my eyes !

  2. “In Chuang-tzu’s book of “Chi-hoku-yû” (荘子 知北遊篇)2, it is written, “There is nowhere that Tao is not. It is everywhere.” The entire universe is Tao, and it is ki that gives birth and life to all the phenomena in the universe. It is also said that in order to know that ki and the flow of ki, one must know Tao. It appears that this is the origin of the words, “Seeking Tao,” and “Mastering Tao.” Lao-tzu referred to one who has mastered Tao as “mu-i-shi-zen” (無為自然, natural and unaffected). Chuang-tzu interpreted this as “emptiness unlimited” or “absolute nothingness3.” When one grasps and masters the flow of ki of all the phenomena in the universe as it is, one is in the state of “mu-i-shi-zen” and “absolute nothingness.” To strive to attain such a state is a true way of life for humans. This is what Taoism teaches.”

    I normally would treat the philosophy of Tao as a “way” of thinking. For the ki (or air in form of energy), it refers to the flow of energy and its transformation from one state to another.

  3. Hi, just wanted to add, I managed to speak for a minute with my instructor tonight about ki – he was explaining it in terms of force and conflict too like your comments – in Taekwondo he referred to the force meets force with the yin yang between an arm that makes a punch and the opposing force which is a pivoting movement – so as one arm goes up and turns into a punch, the other one goes down and pivotes to block. He basically said ki is not an ‘it’ or ‘thing’ which fits with your description above relating to tao being emptiness unlimited – what a wonderful way to describe something. He pointed me to – Zen in the Martial Arts, where Jo Hyams refers to a Bruce Lee comment saying that the “actor is separate from the act and no thoughts interfere with action because the unconscious act is the most free and uninhibited; the mind must always be in the state of flowing.”

    I have never thought about this before in relation to connectivism and education, but as with your posts about the human side of connectivism, maybe if learners minds are in a state of flow, which maybe this form of learning helps create the state, then they can learn freely?

    Loads more to think about 🙂

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