#CritLit2010 Connectivism as the journey continues

Ulop has got it spot on here.

Connectivism = (Network + Stimuli + Interaction) = Trained Reaction

Is this a form of behaviourism (operant conditioning)?

I think I have to leave Stephen to respond to this.

I have to re-think the approach taken by Stephen in his having reasons – by looking at the network, its association with the environment and actors, and the associated changes in response to stimuli, the original patterns (knowledge as recognition of pattern) and the emergent patterns, whereas George has been focusing learning as connection of nodes in the network, and the primacy is on the connection, not on the networks.  This sounds interesting.

In Stephen’s post of having reasons, I found it amazing to apply the Semantics Theory in various areas – concepts of truth, epistemology, and science.  What I could conclude is: there are “truths” under each lens of theory, and claims and evidence that would be proven to be true under certain context and time.  However, what we could observe and true to our senses may sometimes be based on intuition rather than reasons, despite our claim of reasons in arriving to certain conclusions. Take for example, the reasons for: the sky is blue.

Photos: From Flickr

Here is the explanation of us seeing a blue sky based on wikipedia:

The sunlit sky appears blue because air scatters short-wavelength light more than longer wavelengths. Since blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light. The result is that the human eye perceives blue when looking toward parts of the sky other than the sun.[1]

Can the sky look red?  Why on some days when we see a red sky, especially at sunrise and sunset?

Near sunrise and sunset, most of the light we see comes in nearly tangent to the Earth’s surface, so that the light’s path through the atmosphere is so long that much of the blue and even green light is scattered out, leaving the sun rays and the clouds it illuminates red. Therefore, when looking at the sunset and sunrise, you will see the color red more than any of the other colors.

If I were to base my reasoning on the above explanation, would I be convinced?  Would I think this is the truth? Or would this be my perception of the truth, as explained in wikipedia?  What is my “trust” level on wikipedia?  What is my trust on the fact that “blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light”.

If 100% of the people see the sky as blue, does it mean that the sky is blue?  How about those who are “color blinded”?  Do they see the same “blue” color as those who are not?  Do we all see the same color spectrum?  Are we born with vision seeing the light in “same” or “similar” ways?

So, how would I interpret these in Connectivism.  Would we be looking at connections as learning or at patterns similar to looking at the way we interpret why the sky is blue?

First, our conclusion that the sky is blue is based on our daily observation that the sky has ALWAYS been blue, and we are trying to explain such phenomenon using a scientific approach – that is based on “blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light” and that we have seen this nearly 100% of the time by majority of people (this needs qualification).  We have been taught by the “books” that sky is blue is a fact and cannot be disputed.  This is the theory part.

Second, our reasoning of the sky is blue could be validated if we are to construct an artificial sky within a laboratory, where we could simulate the light condition and see if we could see the light within such an artificial condition.  So, our conclusions are arrived based on actual data and evidence.  This is the experiment, and the experimental data.  Or the empirical results coming out of the experiment.

Third, we would need to replicate the observation and see if this is always true under all CIRCUMSTANCES in different parts of the world, and at different times.  This refers to further validation with more evidences. This also requires us to predict what will happen in future. Does this sky always blue hold true in all parts of the world, for the future, despite that it was observed in the past and present to be true?  Would most of us be saying an astounding yes?  May be this is the question.  How do we know that light is always having such properties (or spectrum)?  Have we checked whether the light properties have changed over time?  Think about relativity and you might like to ask whether we are so certain in answering that the spectrum of light hasn’t changed for the whole of human history.

I don’t know the answer, but I would like to know the answer.

So, what I would like to reflect is: If we were to use this the Sky is blue as a metaphor in looking into a learning theory or learning itself, are we looking at learning in a similar way to looking into the sky is blue in some respects?

I will pause at this stage to reflect on what it means when it is applied to Connectivism.

Are we looking at the connections (as learning), and the patterns (the knowledge as pattern recognition) in an ongoing basis? Can we “prove” our notions of knowledge using our senses, our scientific judgment or our intuition?  Are we looking and perceiving the theory using different senses (may be sensemaking, if we can claim), and way finding (based on scientists pointing out the way, other people telling us that it is true, or for us actually experimenting, reasoning and sharing and conversing with others before we make our conclusion, though we may need to follow the ways using different approaches)

This is an exciting journey for me, and I would like to continue with this.

Thanks to Stephen and George, and everyone in CritLit2010…

Postscript: Here in this lecture, there is an explanation of why the sky is blue.

Photo: From Flickr


47 thoughts on “#CritLit2010 Connectivism as the journey continues

  1. “Connectivism = (Network + Stimuli + Interaction) = Trained Reaction”

    I view stimuli as a facet of interaction which is a facet of a network. Interaction if the simultaneous processing of input (i.e., stimuli) and output (i.e., behavior). A network is a bunch of nodes interacting one another. Or stated another way, the change of one node causes the change of another node or nodes. According the Downes, a network has the following characteristics: openness, diverse, autonomous, and interactive. So, instead of looking at stimuli, interaction, and network separately, I just see each as a subset of the other.

    I tend to avoid words like “trained”, “learned”, “competencies”, etc. because they all are dichotomous. If I say,

    “I learned the present tense”
    “I’m a trained professional”
    “I’m technologically competent”

    they all insinuate that I either have it or I don’t. If we say we have a “trained reaction”, then we return to a more behaviorist perspective that implies that certain behavior (i.e., output) will result from specific stimuli (i.e., input).

    I would argue that a network is more complex in that it requires the skill of sifting through vast amounts of input and at the same time producing a much quality output as possible. Through reflection, the output thus becomes input as well so through this interaction, the person (i.e., node) moves through the network in ways that best suits the learner. Understandings, learnings, capacities, etc. grow, cultivate, flow, etc. as if along a continuum. Learners never start at zero percent and end at 100 percent.

  2. Would have to disagree that Stephen and Ulop have it spot on.

    Interesting thought that Connectivism = (Network + Stimuli + Interaction) = Trained Reaction and yes, this would then be a type of behaviour conditioning.

    However, I disagree that the final equals is ‘Trained Reaction’.

    I see it more as:
    Connectivism = (Network + Stimuli + Interaction) = Informed Decision Making.

    A ‘Trained Reaction’ implies a rather limiting experience with a preconceived outcome or a specific response or action. In other words, there is one ‘right’ answer or one way to do something. Not future thinking at all!

    Whereas ‘Informed Decision Making’ implies that the outcome/response/action is based on an individual’s specific need or situation. In other words, there are multiple answers and ways of doing things that can meet the needs of the individual while taking into consideration the broader picture of other people and other things. Creative and inventive thinking!

    Connectivism is more about the combination of metacognition, purpose and situation rather than behaviour.

  3. Hi I dont agree with Ulop’s interpretation of Connectivism certainly not in my experience of this particular networked learning course. I’m thinking that the trained reaction part is less about a particular outcome, which the label ‘behaviourism’ implies.

    It’s about opening up to many possibilities. The natural inclination of particular learners who have self-selected themselves to participate under Stephen Downes instruction narrows down perhaps some participants
    particular socio economic politico bents by force of being readers of Stephen or even Rita’s work.

    So the nature of the group may be that there is largely agreement on some aspects of content or context or both? This in my view does not show that participants are being trained into a particular response. Ironically it couldn’t be further as there are sooo many ways to participate, to get lost sidetracked, personal, political or take the readings in any direction at all! I could treat the whole course a a fish bowl for my own reflections and still participate!

    But the very idea of coming together to discuss critical literacies opens the field for dissent, and or rigorous questioning of each other’s ideas. I understand that people are naturally polite and much may be unsaid but the invitation is here to please correct, disagree, to hold me accountable, make me think etc?

    The outcomes are very open, the technology and even the content or am I in a different course?

  4. Hi Ruth. Yes, I would agree with you that “Trained Reaction” implies a limiting outcome. I am a little surprised that Stephen put it that way. I wonder why he continues to use terminology that points towards behavourist-type concepts. I am continually confused by that and led to wonder as to what his intentions are: will connectivism make us all one? If connectivism = trained reaction then is a new theory (or name) required for the combination you have suggested of metacognition, purpose and situation? Something that focuses on the individual rather than the collective?

  5. Hi Benjamin, Ruth, and Ulop,
    Thanks for your comments. May I refer back to Stephen’s post:

    “The whole concept of ‘having reasons’ is probably the deepest challenge there is for connectivism, or for any theory of learning. We don’t want people to simply to react instinctively to events, we want them to react on a reasonable (and hopefully rational) basis. At the same time, we are hoping to develop a degree of expertise so natural and effortless that it seems intuitive.

    Connectivist theory is essentially the idea that if we expose a network to appropriate stimuli, and have it interact with that stimuli, the result will be that the network is trained to react appropriately to that stimuli. The model suggests that exposure to stimuli – the conversation and practices of the discipline of chemistry, say – will result in the creation of a distributed representation of the knowledge embodied in that discipline, that we will literally become a chemist, having internalized what it is to be a chemist.”

    1. Reason, as Stephen proposed is PROBABLY the deepest CHALLENGE there is for Connectivism. How is reason reasoned under connectivism? Just like what all of you and me have “reasoned” here, they were based on the semiotics – the semantics, syntax and pragmatics, when expressed in English language, in these words, and such signs that we could exchange, interpret, clarify and understand here based solely on text. So, my understanding of Stephen’s proposition is that reasons form the foundation of Connectivism or of ANY learning theory. My interpretation is that Stephen would like to emphasis Connectivism as one of the learning theory that must be based on reasons. Are learning theories based on reasons? Are ALL learning theories based on reasons? There has been some “proofs” that some theories were wrong – the brain doesn’t process and store information exactly like the computer as proposed and reasoned under Cognitive Theory of Learning. So, under Connectivism, whose reasons are the theory based upon? The network? The expert(s)? Or the “distributed network”? What are the distributed network composed of?
    If “we” is the teacher as mentioned by Stephen, then to what level of “expertise” is that teacher? On the experts’ or teachers’ reasons or everyone’s reasons (if it is in a network)? Whose reasons are more trustworthy or valuable than others?
    Why would “WE” basing reasons on probability of science? If we reflect on many managerial or educational decisions made (by educators, administrators, and managers etc, how many decisions are based on reasons? How many are based on probability? How many are based on intuition?By whom? And why?
    Will continue part 2 in another comment.
    Are we referring to the learners as teachers who are sharing the reasons here?

  6. Hi Benjamin, Ruth, and Ulop,
    Stephen’s assertion that:” Connectivist theory is essentially the idea that if we expose a network to appropriate stimuli, and have it interact with that stimuli, the result will be that the network is trained to react appropriately to that stimuli.” stimulates me ask further questions:
    1. What is the “network” comprise of? Is it comprising of participants + instructors + any agents/actors etc?
    2. What sort of stimuli are appropriate? Appropriate to whom? How about those inappropriate stimuli?
    3. Stephen has used the word training here. What is “training”? How about learning? Would the network be trained? Or would the network learn?
    4. The network will react appropriately with stimuli. How? Why?
    Is this similar to the Complex Adaptive Learning Network?
    So, I have interpreted Stephen’s proposition based on the “semiotics” that I have learnt, and now “reflect” back to what each of you have shared. I think each of “us” have an interpretation which need more sharing, clarification and understanding before we could fully get to Stephen’s point. Or we might have our own points. Are these experts’ opinions? I don’t know. See also Heli’s comments. I think “we” could dig deeper into these.
    Like to hear your views before I comment further on the differences made between Ruth and Ulop’s interpretation.

  7. Interesting discussion.

    Let me take a slightly different tack. I don’t endorse all the concepts here, but use of them may make my intent clearer.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that ‘to have learned’ something is to come to ‘know something’.

    Well, what is it to ‘know something’. A widely held characterization is that knowledge is ‘justified true belief’. There has been a lot of criticism of this characterization, but it will do for the present purposes.

    So what is ‘justified true belief’? We can roughly characterize it as follows:

    – ‘belief’ means that there is a mental state (or a brain state) that amounts to the agreement that some proposition, P, is the case.

    – ‘true’ means that P is, in fact, the case.

    – ‘justified’ means that the belief that P and the fact that P are related through some reliable or dependable belief-forming process.

    OK, like I say, there are all kinds of arguments surrounding these definitions that I need not get into. But the concept of ‘having reasons’ is related to the idea of justification.

    Now – the great advantage (and disadvantage) of connectivism is that it suggests a set of mechanisms that enables the belief that P to be justified.


    – we have perceptions of the world through our interactions with it.

    – these perceptions, through definable principles of association, create a neural network.

    – this neural network reliably reflects or mirrors (or ‘encodes’, if you’re a cognitivist) states of affairs in the world

    – hence, a mental state (the reflection or encoding) has been created – a belief. This belief is ‘true’, and it is ‘true’ precisely because there is a state of affairs (whatever caused the original perception) that reliably (through principles of association) creates the belief.

    All very good. But of this is the total picture of belief-formation, then there is nothing in principle distinct from simple behaviourism. A stimulus (the perception) produces an effect (a brain state) that we would ultimately say is responsible for behaviour (such as a statement of belief).

    But this picture is an inadequate picture of learning. Yes, it characterizes what might be thought of as rote training, but it seems that there is more to learning than this.

    And what is that? The *having* of reasons. It’s not just that the belief is justified. It’s that we know it is justified. It’s being able to say ‘this belief is caused by these perceptions’.

    (This is why I say that learning is both ‘practice’ and ‘reflection’ – we can become training through practice along, but learning requires reflection – so that we know why we have come to have the knowledge that we have).

    Learning that ‘the sky is blue’, for example, combines both of these elements.

    On the one hand, we have perceptions of the sky which lead to mental states that enable us to, when prompted, say that “the sky is blue.”

    At the same time, we would not be said to have ‘learned’ that the sky is blue unless we also had some (reasonable) story about how we have come to know that the sky is blue.

    What I am after is an articulation of how we would come to be able to make such statements in a connectivist envrionment. How connectivism moves beyond being a ‘mere’ forming of associations, and allows for a having, and articulation, of reasons.

  8. Hi Stephen,
    I greatly appreciate your explanation and sharing here.
    “The great advantage (and disadvantage) of connectivism is that it suggests a set of mechanisms that enables the belief that P to be justified.” appeals to me.
    “I don’t endorse all the concepts here”: Are those concepts relating principally to: “But of this is the total picture of belief-formation, then there is nothing in principle distinct from simple behaviourism. A stimulus (the perception) produces an effect (a brain state) that we would ultimately say is responsible for behaviour (such as a statement of belief)… this picture is an inadequate picture of learning. Yes, it characterizes what might be thought of as rote training, but it seems that there is more to learning than this.”
    I am glad to learn and agree with your view that “learning is both ‘practice’ and ‘reflection’ – we can become training through practice along, but learning requires reflection – so that we know why we have come to have the knowledge that we have).
    With renewed thanks.

  9. > I don’t endorse all the concepts here

    mostly I was referring to the whole ‘justified true belief’ framework for discussing knowledge

    but also the ‘stimulus-response’ language. Don’t make the leap from seeing me use that sort of language to inferring that I am advocating (or even describing) behaviourism. It’s just a vocabulary

  10. Re: This is why I say that learning is both ‘practice’ and ‘reflection’.

    Agree components of learning are practice and reflection. However, for learning to be long-term and embedded in our “everyday” thinking, actions and reactions, it needs to be more than just practice and reflection.

    For example, our thinking governs our decision making which then governs our thoughts be it self, others, things, community and/or global. Rather than being a cognitivist viewpoint, it is lifeskills viewpoint.

    Therefore to fully explore components that make up learning, first we need to agree on the purpose of learning. Is the purpose: communication, social behavior, partnerships, negotiation, problem solving or skills for preparation as an active participation in the world we live or for coping with difficult situations and crises?

    If these are the key things we want students to know and be able to do for a happy, successful life, then learning needs to include metacognition, situation and purpose too.

    Metacognition as in explicitly teaching thinking skills to ensure students look for and evaluate more than one option. Children generally select the easiest or quickest option rather than looking for alternatives that best suit their need, situation or goal. Unfortunately, this can then become a pattern of thinking for decision making when they are adults, regardless if their decisions are successful or not. Therefore, metacognition is a vital life skill for children and component of learning.

    Situation as in the background, current circumstances of the individual and, on a broader scale, to others, things, environment and globally. Thereby being another vital component when deciding on a course of action.

    Purpose as in the goal or reason for the individual and/or the broader scale, as stated previously, for learning.

    Learning is about constant discovery of what we need to know or be able to do for a particular purpose or need. It is different for all of us and all of us bring something different to it.

  11. Hi Ruth,
    I like your assertion that :”learning needs to include metacognition, situation and purpose too”. For those of us who were brought up under a traditional schooling approach, with books as the principal resource, and teacher the main expert for exposition, then the indoctrination of “knowledge as merely what is stated in book in factual information and teacher is of the authority figure” seems a rule rather than the exception. Such traditional approach seems to fit perfectly well for young kids, especially when the information available are mostly based on simple facts and not much other interpretation is required. Also, some of us (who were taught with the old school approach in particular) were accustomed to this sort of education. And we were educated NOT to challenge the teachers, but only the ideas presented. However, the raising of questions or challenge of ideas might not be welcomed in a traditional classroom, as sometimes, classroom teaching (the lesson or the lecture) has been designed for “mass education or production of students” having same or similar concepts or information “fed” into their minds. Such an approach, which is based on a mechanistic way of teaching, is further reinforced when students were typically tested or examined through the examination. The students could then “prove” their understanding, comprehension of concepts, knowledge, and application in place on paper. However, such an assessment process may have its limitation, in that it is testing the knowledge and skills based on known answers, where the students might just be required to turn into a “machine” with regurgitation, though this time through writing on the examination paper, or rote recalling of the facts, so as to fill up the responses to questions. So, what is the problem with such an approach towards learning?
    This approach takes little account of the learning process, as argued in the past, that a student is assessed based principally whether he/she is competent or not, without considering the process upon which he/she has acquired the skills. Also, there is no or little demand from the students in evaluating the information in place, or in encouraging students to consider creative approaches in presenting information or solving problems.
    This way of looking at education sounds right when our system at work – as our schools and education is expecting a standardized system of education, a national standard of education, and even the employment by institution and business is based on meritocracy. So graduates are expected to follow procedures and instruction laid down by their authority at work, and so far if the work gets done by following the system, then it sounds great. However, as the learners become more knowledgeable, they soon find that following the procedures would only be good enough if the system that is at work is a static one, and that there is no need for further improvement of the system.

    The challenge now is that our environment has changed, the customers’ needs are changing, and the needs and expectations of the businesses are changing, where education and learning in a traditional setting could no longer be able to meet our and our students needs – as a result of the affordance of technology, the abundance of information (both valuable and crap ones), and the limitations of the traditional behavioural and “cognitive” approach of learning based on rote learning.

    I have resonated with your approach to learning in this:


    Ulop: I think it is worthwhile to share our views and see if fits into our past and present model of thinking. I reckon the stimuli – response that you mentioned fit well under the behavioural approach, where behaviour change is required as a learning outcome. My understanding is that it works well with a “straight disciplinary force such as military or police” force, when officers are expected to respond spontaneously to certain critical situation, then the experience of the officers in place would be an important factor to be considered. It might also work well under a “rule based” training or learning environment where heuristic is the basis to reinforce the rules to be followed with corrective action to attain mastery. This is often the case when new recruits of a company are expected to acquire skills and knowledge in order to be deemed competent in their tasks assigned. The concept of competency-based training might also be relying on such concepts of mastery learning. A more contemporary approach is to include mentors or buddies in the training process, in order to provide support and feedback to the trainees.

    The demerits with the traditional approach of training could be that people might not know why such actions (procedures or instructions) are efficient or effective. I recalled when I undertook a training workshop with corrective service, the officers explained that their colleague officers often have to resort to past experience or stories as a valuable “aid” to respond to various spontaneous actions. Since they are often confronted with threatening actions, their response must be based on procedures, and they must consider safety first in any situations. In this regard, their actions are structured around a risk management approach, with due consideration of the impacts of such actions to all parties, and the society concerned. This way of training, and action often requires a totally different approach to our social networking approach in learning, though the officers could benefit by networking within their group as a COP to share their strategies and tactics in handling violent or disruptive situation. I think this is quite similar to what you have found with your masters’ research that you shared with me.
    Though I am not working in this profession, I have provided training to organisations that relate to some specialised profession and that require confidentiality and “strict discipline” at work – like the defense”, so it is no wonder why there are still many “gaps” in the training and learning approach in those profession as compare with the open education. Openness could be an issue when confidentiality is involved in those profession and organisation. So, would we need to take that into consideration in the (corporate) education and training (and learning) for those professionals or trainees?
    So, I think it depends on the circumstances, contexts, in order to decide upon the approach towards teaching, training and learning.

    Hi Benjamin,
    I agree with you: “that a network is more complex in that it requires the skill of sifting through vast amounts of input and at the same time producing a much quality output as possible.” So, networked learning could help individuals in fine-tuning some of their concepts or perception, filter information, based on critical thinking, and cooperate with others in learning through the networks.

    Thanks again to all of you for your insights.

  12. Hi John. Yes, muscle-memory training is a component of police/military training, as is scenario-based training for dangerous situations. Problem-based learning is used to address situations through group/network interactions. Social network learning? Absolutely, but police don’t use a lot of blogs, as far as I know.

    I don’t think Stephen’s use of behaviourist language has much to do with paying homage to past learning theories. He has articulated an issue with connectivist theory, in his words:

    >Yes. There needs to be a story here. We need some account of this. Otherwise there’s a big black box in the middle of the theory, which would make it no better than all the other theories.

    He is referring to the box between stimulus and response, the same black box the behaviourists think can only be understood through observations of S-R responses. His solution is:

    >and, maybe a bit more accurately, there is a good story here (it is the content matter of the Critical Literacies course) and what we need to be able to state is how and where this fits into learning.

    These quotes are from his blog:


  13. Hi Ulop,
    Etienne Wenger once mentioned that it depends on the story that one wants to tell, in what ever we would like to call, be it a network, a community of practice or a group. So, this may be quite similar in spirit to what Stephen is referring to, that we need a story, a good story to illustrate the importance of the content here, and that would reinforce the principles of a connectivist approach. To this end, I would interpret a story could be a personal or network or group experience, a personal or network problem, a personal narrative or anecdote, or an application of connectivism at work or in formal/informal courses/networks.
    I have often heard of story telling, in ancient Chinese cultures, where a lot of our ancestors (great thinkers and philosophers like Confucius, Lao Tze and Chong Tze) would pass on their words of wisdom with stories to the people. This would be similar to the “stories” told by Jesus Christ, in the form of parables.
    Good story (telling) has always been the best strategies in winning the hearts and minds of people, be it in leadership or management. So, yes, good story would fulfill the role necessary that makes learning a “live story which worked”, and have practical values to people living out the learning. Are we all telling and sharing good stories here on in social media, via our posts, comments on the blogs, moodle forum, Facebook or twitter etc. So would the thoughts within our brain now be connecting with the external sources – each of you when expressed and transmitted or received in various forms (the semiotic dimension mentioned by Paul Bouchard)- (use of printed text, multimedia(videos, voice, podcast, pictures), use of non-print text, use of hypertext, data collection, social networks). Such forms of learning via practice and reflection, together with others in the network is in itself a story distributing throughout the networks, in one way or the other, and could be amplified or dampened in the way, depending on the “signal-to-noise” sort of resonance with the other nodes in the network.
    I think a good story is a good start to learning, not only about networked learning that are based on reasons, but an extension to the personal experience which might only be expressed in the metaphors – the tacit knowledge we are often referring to. That would ‘cut’ across the cultural and religious boundaries, where we could better understand each others’ values, based on others’ “languages, customs and rituals”. Would that the semantics that is still not documented and researched?

  14. Pingback: How we know – by Ulop O’Taat « Ulop's Blog

  15. Hello John.

    I’m not sure in what sense Stephen uses the word ‘story’. My first reaction was as yours, a narrative, a story of explanation etc. I am not sure of the depth and breadth of his knowledge of narrative/story. I would like to know more of his thoughts on this.

    My thoughts on this are unclear. I’ve put a few down in my blog if you want to have a look:


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  18. Hi John,

    Re: Such traditional approach seems to fit perfectly well for young kids.

    The traditional approach may seem to fit young children because of the lack of complexity of concepts taught/learned.

    However, I would assert that the traditional approach suits younger children least of all. Young minds (old and in-between ones too) need to enjoy learning and thereby take ownership of their learning. If children do not enjoy learning they will disengage and look at it as having to know ‘x,y&z’ to be successful rather than developing autonomous learning skills for their continuous needs and goals in life.

    I don’t know about you, but I find I learn best when I have an open, willing mind; a particular purpose; and am looking for specific information. Therefore, rather than the traditional approach of: knowledge, skills, attitude, it needs to be the other way around: attitude, skills, knowledge.

  19. Hi Ruth,
    I understand there are two Ruths here, one is Ruth, the other is Ruth Howard. So may I expand a bit on what I mentioned? Such traditional approach seems to fit perfectly well for young kids. Yes, I do not think traditional approach is the best approach at this digital age, and so I won’t think it could successfully stimulate young kids in their learning. The challenge is: How would we allow young kids to learn effectively and efficiently under the “existing education system – based on schooling”? I think there are tensions amongst all parties concerned – parents, educators, administrators, and education authorities all looking at the education system in terms of accountability, responsibility, duty of care, based on paternalism. What about the young kids’ needs? How would they learn best? I think it is not as simple as a single solution could solve the problem, as the problem itself is a complex one. You mention that: “I find I learn best when I have an open, willing mind”, me too. Relating to the other way around in education and learning: attitude, skills, knowledge, that sounds interesting. I have to think more about its implication.
    May be we learn best when we are interested and having a positive attitude and impression about learning (the intrinsic motivation). Or may be we (adults) learn best when we are being challenged on our reasoning, or our decisions. Would it depend on who you are, and what you want to achieve – i.e. your goals of learning?
    Thanks Ruth for your comments.

  20. I tried from iPhone and uncertain that anything sent so to say I immediately noted just as Ruth did that young children really are the most to benefit from non traditional learning approaches.

    What I understood from Stephen’s post here is that I need to articulate my reasons for disagreeing and to keep returning to validating my opinions, verifying etc.

    So in honour of my view I reference Dr Sugata Mitra who reveals that young children are self educating.

    Dr Mitra has addressed the pressing issue of the chronically inequitable digital divide in his native India by introducing “Hole-in-the-wall Learning Stations”. These touch screens sit in public places where children gather. Within days of installation, these naturally curious children are shown to be self organising and self educating. The researchers left the scene and upon returning applied rigorous assessment methods to ‘measure academic achievement, behaviour, personality profile, computer literacy and correlations with socio- economic indicators’ of slum dwelling children.

    Mitra’s research is confirmed by two other research groups in other continents, with local impoverished children. Mitra concludes that this tech pedagogy is true of children between 6 and 13. So since children self educate without interference until age 13 then perhaps a teacher guide could be useful in co-designing curriculum (Levy 2009) after that age???

    But it begs questions about what epistemological beliefs that this guide might have and the entry level age to higher education! However what Sugata Mitra himself earnestly concludes is that teachers who can be replaced by a machine should be. I would say this is occurring now, ironically to the 13 up age group, as digital natives vote with their handheld devices and as courseware becomes ubiquitous.(Frey, 2007)

    What I further gleaned from this (TED) talk was the criticism about the inaccuracy of statistical data, whereby emerging educational technology is often piloted on affluent students rather than another sector of the population. Mitra summised that if you pilot this same technology in a remote school where there is the greatest need the statistical data would be overwhelmingly supportive of technology integration. Technology should be introduced firstly to
    underprivileged populations and then out from there.

    Ted talk link- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRb7_ffl2D0

    Mitra S (2004) Hole In the Wall Findings retrieved from online Web site; http://www.hole-in-the- wall.com/findings.html

  21. Hi Ruth,

    Yes, I saw that video on TED, totally awesome.

    What an excellent example of exploring, experimenting, peer teaching and networking.

    How fast they learned to use the technology then were able to use it to do thing they wanted to.

    Teachers have to let go of some of their control so children can enjoy this type of learning (know this is hard for many).

  22. Pingback: #CritLit2010 reflections – Semantics on debate | arenastudies

  23. Yes Ruth that was left unsaid thanks for “What an excellent example of exploring, experimenting, peer teaching and networking.”

    It really is an example of peer 2 peer learning using technology parallel with Connectivism and Heli’s Net academy (hacker open learning) that inspires me toward self-directed autonomy as an ideal, a human norm if you reference this research.

  24. Hi Ulop, Ruth, and Ruth Howard,
    My sincere thanks to you all. That’s also my dream, even when I was a teenager. By now, such learning could be mediated and enabled by the technology. I think it’s human desire to born free, and learn free. Look at the toddlers, most healthy ones would learn without us “forcing” them to learn. Connectivism does offer an option, though I understand that many would still doubt about the self-directed autonomy concept of learning.
    I still have some questions on the research of what Sugata Mitra had done, though. The skills acquired on operating a computer could still be restricted to “keyboarding” and limited information literacy/skills, whereas more advanced skills or literacy such as interpersonal skills, social skills and literacy, critical literacy and technological skills might need to be mediated through a combination of technology and human intervention (peers, teachers, networks, or experts etc.).

  25. I just read the debates between Stephen and Ulop/Anonymous here: http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2010/07/having-reasons.html?showComment=1278462534874#c6382689901094156877
    I could reflect upon them with two observations:
    (1) whilst having a heated debates, I would need to consider these points here: https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/a-response-to-what-china-can-teach-writing-teachers/
    (2) relating to having reasons, the question is: Why is the sky is blue?

    I would be happy to engage in the debates about Connectivism as a Learning Theory.

  26. The answer is very simple, according to connectivist theory:

    The sky is blue because of our trained reaction to it.

    Network = remixing
    Stimuli = experiences
    Interaction = communication

    See Stephen’s ‘representative student’ for more details of the three categories of the six crit lits. He says they are all one of aspects of experience (aggregation), thought (remixing) or communication (feeding forward).

  27. Ulop: So would the questions to you be:

    Do you believe in your statement that” according to connectivist theory: The sky is blue because of our trained reaction to it.

    Network = remixing
    Stimuli = experiences
    Interaction = communication” is true? There are two parts in your statement: According to connectivist theory… so which part of the theory are you referring to? Are you referring to that part of the connectivist theory explained by Stephen Downes?
    Where is this coming from:
    Network = remixing
    Stimuli = experiences
    Interaction = communication
    Is it from Connectivism?
    Do you believe in your interpretation of Stephen’s saying that: “They are all one of aspects of experience (aggregation), thought (remixing) or communication (feeding forward).” is true?

    There was a certain school in Ancient China that relates to semantics, semiotics in languages. It was based on “arguments” – on the exact meaning of certain statements, similar to Socrates questioning on the logic and reasoning in order to interpret and reveal the “truth” of each statement or claim to the truth of each statement.

  28. The source is Stephen. See the beginning of this thread, and his ‘representative student’ presentation, I think around the 28 minute mark or so.

  29. >Do you believe in your interpretation of Stephen’s saying that: “They are all one of aspects of experience (aggregation), thought (remixing) or communication (feeding forward).” is true?

    What does the school of Ancient China have to say about this?

  30. According to Mencius, education must awaken the innate abilities of the human mind. He denounced memorization and advocated active interrogation of the text, saying, “One who believes all of a book would be better off without books.” One should check for internal consistency by comparing sections and debate the probability of factual accounts by comparing them with experience.
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mencius
    What do you think?

  31. Stephen was explaining about his having reasons – with trained reactions as one sort of response, as I could interpret it.
    I think such beliefs are based on our feelings, which was elaborated by Mencius in Ancient China
    “The feeling of commiseration is the beginning of humanity; the feeling of shame and dislike is the beginning of righteousness; the feeling of deference and compliance is the beginning of propriety; and the feeling of right or wrong is the beginning of wisdom.” From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mencius
    Would we be sensing other people (desire, needs, expectations), problem, project, networks, or the world also by our feelings, when rationalising our thoughts? That may be part of sensemaking.
    So, I could understand why and what he was claiming, based on his experience and feelings. What questions do I have?
    What questions do you have?

  32. I have a different interpretation of what he was saying.

    >I think such beliefs are based on our feelings,

    Based on our feelings? Or initiated by them? How does the rationality process affect our feelings? I note that Mencuis as you have quoted him indicates that feelings are responsible for beginnings.

  33. How do you feel when you interact with him? How do you feel when you interact with me? That is the beginning….
    Through our interaction and conversation, you would establish your beliefs, which could be based on those feelings of interactions, and the reasons he provided in response to your questions or comments.

  34. If you are talking about intuition, then I have this to say:

    Some of the claims/statements etc. made in his posts etc. leave me with a gut feeling that something is missing or wrong. So my questions seek to explore that gut feeling by requesting clarification.

    I also get a little angry if I am ignored, or if I detect a tone of condescension. It is my ‘belief’ that if you make assertions as an expert about ‘connectivism’ or any other subject, then you must be willing to invite questions and accept criticisms.

  35. I see.
    I think you are not alone in asking questions and seeking clarification. I did raise lots of questions with Jenny and Roy, so many that they would respond with their “laughs”. We did share very openly when doing our research.
    I could understand the feelings of being treated with condescension. What would you do with the “feelings”? How would you respond?
    Sorry that may be Stephen or George would be able to answer your questions as “expert” in Connectivism. How do they find it?

    I am a learner in Connectivism, always!

    What further questions do we have on experts and expertise?
    Isn’t it exciting to explore?

  36. How about these quotes from Confucius?

    Some well known Confucian quotes:

    “To know your faults and be able to change is the greatest virtue.”
    “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”
    “With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my crooked arm for a pillow – is not joy to be found therein? Riches and honors acquired through unrighteousness are to me as the floating clouds.”
    “Knowledge is recognizing what you know and what you don’t.”
    “Reviewing the day’s lessons. Isn’t it joyful? Friends come from far. Isn’t it delightful? One has never been angry at other’s misunderstanding. Isn’t he a respectable man?”
    Do these resonate with your philosophy of life?

  37. 學而時習之,不亦說乎?Should be translated as “Learn and practise it often (act), isn’t it joyful?”
    For me learning includes thinking, reflection and action.

  38. >A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions

    >And remember, no matter where you go, there you are

    >He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.

    >Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

    >Study the past, if you would divine the future.

    >The object of the superior man is truth.

    >The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.

    >There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.

    >You cannot open a book without learning something.



  39. Re: Confucius

    His maxims for living and learning were made before the digital age. Are they out-dated then, in the same sense that you feel other learning theories are now out-dated as they came before the digital age?

  40. Yes. Lots of maxims were made at that time, and needed to be revised to reflect what we are experiencing now.
    There are though some ideas worth mulling over, as we might be able to see some “moments of truth”. This is especially so when there is a transition from Command Control to a truly democratic and autonomous learner-centered education and learning. Is it an Utopian? May be!
    Would this be another exciting journey for “us” to reflect? Can we learn from history? Or may be people could be still valuing their nostalgia – the glorious day of learning in a classroom or that in the office with close supervision…. How about the radical management mentioned here by Steve http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqAzA7PiBWY. What do you think?
    What lies ahead may be complex changes in education and learning, where no one could predict correctly… or may be some experts can, and I am here to learn..

  41. Yes, these are interesting.
    Would you test each of them? How would they endure the test of reality? Would it be a long debate? Just on the definition of the words: superior, inferior, wisdom.
    I would like to try this one: Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

    What is the basis of life? What leads to the conclusion of life is really simple? Who insist on making life complicated?
    Could life be neither simple or complicated? What does life compose of? What are the stages of life? Born, getting sick, getting old, Die…. So, life could be simple when one is a toddler, when the parents take care of him/her. Life could be simple or complicated – when studying, when getting partners or falling in love, getting married, forming a family, getting divorced, getting a job, working with colleagues, learning with others – as a team, as a group or in network, etc. depending on ones experience, perception, and fate or destiny… So who makes life complicated, may be ourselves, our beloved, our friends, our colleagues, our work, our community, etc.

    May I share this? The wisest person is one who seems to be stupid. That was from Chinese philosophy. My interpretation is that when one is encountering a tiger, don’t act silly, and fight, but act accordingly…I have also composed a few posts about wise, clever.
    Here is a speech by Jeff Amazon founder & CEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBmavNoChZc&feature=player_embedded#! We are our own choices. And his words of wisdom: be kind, rather than clever.. His anecdote about his grand mother tells it all.
    About stupidity: This is similar to Steve Jobs speech here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc – the last few words of advice: be hungry, be stupid.
    What do you think about being wise, clever, intelligent….

  42. Pingback: #CritLit2010 Connectivism Grows » Collaborative Understandings

  43. Pingback: #Change11 Why the sky is blue? | Learner Weblog

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