#PLENK2010 Connectivism & PLENK- my interpretation

This is a response to Mary on my previous post on transformative learning.  I think I would like to share it here, where I would elaborate on my interpretation of the theory of connectivism and how it relates to PLENK.

Thanks for your wonderful sharing.
We all learn differently, due to many factors, as you mentioned. So when it comes to learning on the web & internet, we may have used different strategies that are based on our capacity, skills and experience – critical literacies etc.
1. Do a full understanding of PLENK theory and practice necessary?
2. Does a full understanding of PLENK in theory and practice require “transformative learning” (as asked by Carmen)

There are two questions here: For Q1, what is involved in PLENK theory and practice? I don’t think we have come up with an agreed PLENK theory as yet. There are PLENK practice which are all based on idiosyncrasy and again there are only general principles which are found to be useful if followed. I think we have been discussing and critiquing on the constructivist (VLE) and connectivist approaches (PLE) and it would take another post for further sharing.

Q2. Relating to transformational learning theory:
This theory has two kinds of learning that is involved with it. Those learning theories are instrumental learning and communicative learning. With instrumental learning is focuses on “learning through task-oriented problem solving and determination of cause and effect relationships” (Taylor, E. W., 1998, 5). With communicative learning it is involved with how others communicate their feelings, needs and desires with another person.

So, I think it pretty covers part of the learning of tools (PLE/N or the Web 2.0) with instrumental learning. Also, it addresses the communicative learning that are often associated with how we learn through understanding of our own feelings (internal reflection) and others (reflection with others via sharing, participation and engagement in activities or conversation)
I could argue that we don’t necessarily need too much theory to formulate such learning, but it may be good to reflect on the significance of these learning on our growth. Similarly, when we adopt a connectivist approach, what we might have done is to use a new and emergent kind of vocabulary, a more complex system (i.e. Complex Adaptive System) approach in understanding our learning more holistically.
I would think we need an ontological learning with some details extracted from excerpts:

“An ontology provide a shared vocabulary, which can be used to model a domain, that is, the type of objects and/or concepts that exist, and their properties and relations.
While a conceptual schema defines relations on Data, an ontology defines terms which with to represent Knowledge. For present purposes, one can think of Data as that expressible in ground atomic facts and Knowledge as that expressible in logical sentences with existentially and universally quantified variables. An ontology defines the vocabulary used to compose complex expressions such as those used to describe resource constraints in a planning problem. From a finite, well-defined vocabulary one can compose a large number of coherent sentences. That is one reason why vocabulary, rather than form, is the focus of specifications of ontological commitments.”

I think what we may need is a totally new and novel way to understand knowledge (the tacit knowledge) in particular when we are immersed in the networks using PLE/N.
From the research we (Jenny, Roy and I) have conducted, we found that people do have a preference in learning style, and it could be quite complicated. The learning style pattern for the CCK08 in order of preference is: 1. reflector, 2. pragmatist, 3. theorist, & 4. activist. The implication is that people may be employing various combination of the preferred style of learning under different circumstances, with different strategies. As learners go through their learning journey, some may prefer to try the tools first, before coming to understanding the underpinning theory behind, whilst others may prefer to study the principles behind those use of tools, before trying them.
So, there is no one golden rule for doing the PLE/N, as it is all based on personal preference, and situation.
This also lead me to ask: if we wish to learn the advanced theories relating to education and learning, could we do so with open, online learning? My question was based on that we have all assumed that people have gone through the various stages of learning, and that they have good mastery of the instrumental learning (use of tools) and communicative learning (how to communicate effectively using those tools), and thus could move on to ontological learning. But is this assumption right?
So the challenge could be: For academic discourse, to what extent would people be able to engage at a “deep learning” level with the use of blogs and forums? Also, what motivates people to engage at such levels? What are the conditions upon which such discourse would happen? What levels of critical reflection will occur in blog/forum?

In a post by Elmine Wijnia (Communigations) (http://elmine.wijnia.com/weblog/archives/001298.html) she posted: Weblog serves as a communication hub
“I’ve been thinking about whether weblogs can be a medium for discourse. .. Habermas makes a distinction within communicative action, between conversation and discourse. I figured that no single medium can offer a platform for discourse, so weblogs as a sole medium can’t be seen as discourse. Rather, weblogs are a very good starting point for discourse. The weblog can serve as a filter for getting to know people who are interested in the same things. Through weblogs one can have conversations with ‘self’ and (preferably) others. These conversations can transcend into discourse when people start using multiple communication tools simultaneously (VoIP, chat, forum, e-mail, wiki, webcam etc.) ” “Combining different media is the strength and the weblog serves as a communication hub”
To me, that sounds like the communicative and instrumental learning based on the PLE/N, and if there are further ontological learning happening, based on the connectivist approach, then that would be the connectivist approach towards learning and knowledge in action.
Also, the reason why it is so difficult to fully understand connectivism might be based on the fact it addresses the three levels in an integrative manner – neuro (neuroscience approach), conceptual (cognitive approach) and social and external (social learning approach with complexity theory and various social learning theories integrated). This is similar to viewing 3 D pictures where the images of 3D are all overlapping, and you need to put on 3D glasses (technology, agents, TV, tools) in order to view them properly. Besides, you need to interpret the 3D movies based on the emergent properties, as each 3D patterns may be different when shown, due to the complexity nature of the environment and 3D glasses one puts on.
For your question “What is the difference between a truism and a maxim?”
I will try to address that in another comment.


7 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 Connectivism & PLENK- my interpretation

  1. Please help me to understand what you mean by….
    instrumental theory? communication theory? and complex adaptive theory?

    Habermas discusses communicative interests–technical, practical, and critical emancipatory. Are you familiar with Habermas’ writing? and his theories? How are you using his concepts in your study?

    Are you making a connection to George’s concept that learning in a digital habitat such as the Internet is/can be neural, conceptual, and social?

  2. Hi Mary,

    So I think you are referring to this:

    Habermas identified two major domains of learning with different purposes, logics of inquiry, criteria of rationality, and modes of validating beliefs.

    • Instrumental learning – learning to control and manipulate the environment or other people (task
    oriented problem solving to improve performance)

    • Communicative learning – learning what others mean when they communicate with you. This often
    involves feelings, intentions, values and moral issues. In Communicative learning we need to be mindful
    of assessing meaning behind the words, truthfulness and qualifications of the speaker and authenticity of
    expressions of feeling. We must become critically reflective of the assumptions of the person
    communicating. Assumptions include intent, implied as subtext, conventional wisdom, a particular
    religious world view –this often requires a critical assessment of assumptions supporting the justification
    of norms (Mezirow, 2000, p. 9).

    Reflective Discourse

    In the context of Transformative Learning Theory, is that specialized use of dialogue devoted to searching for a common understanding and assessment of the justification of an interpretation or belief (Mezirow, 2000, p. 10). This is about making personal understanding of issues or beliefs, through assessing the evidence and arguments of a point of view or issue, and being open to looking at alternative points of view, or alternative beliefs, then reflecting critically on the new information, and making a personal judgment based on a new assessment of the information. “

  3. Are you making a connection to George’s concept that learning in a digital habitat such as the Internet is/can be neural, conceptual, and social? Yes.

    I suppose it is not only learning in a digital habitat, but also learning in a connective world where we would need to integrate ways of learning to make sense and meaning in our life long and wide journey. We could hardly separate our digital habitat from our daily life as more and more ICT are assimilated into our world of learning, work and entertainment.

  4. May I share this on reflection? http://www.infed.org/biblio/b-reflect.htm This one on reflective practice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AfHPV-YBdI&feature=player_embedded
    This one by MIT may be of interests to you http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/urban-studies-and-planning/11-965-reflective-practice-an-approach-for-expanding-your-learning-frontiers-january-iap-2007/lecture-notes/ the last lecture with slides on rethinking about reflective practice contain some updates.
    Each of us might have our own approach towards reflection.

  5. Hi John,
    I have done a lot of research into the role of reflection in teacher learning. I have read the infed article. I will take a look at the video later.
    Today I read Steve Draper’s reflection on reflection at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/reflection.html and his critique of isolating this concept really resonated for me. Reflection is a many splendored concept. Take a look at the argument he is making… about the role of reflection in learning, teaching, etc.
    Learning in everyday life is similar to and different from learning in the network… I don’t have time to go into this right now.
    Similar ? Real world: Each everyday experience is unique; therefore, I must improvise and innovate and create. I have to get back to reading and responding to eight proposals before 4:30. Each proposal is unique; as each inquirer/researcher is unique.
    Different ? Networks: Each inquirer and researcher seeks to contribute to theory and to personalize what he or she is doing in practice and to differentiate teaching and learning to meet the needs of learners in a specific situation.
    Several years ago I read a book by Barbara Hofer and Paul Pintrich entitled: Personal epistemologies: The psychology of beliefs about knoweldge and knowing, which might be relevant to your study.
    I will take a look at John Anderson’s (1996) book, Communication theory: Epistemological Foundations to get a better sense of where your thinking fits within his framework.. which is probably cognitive. which is different from Habermas’ concept of curriculum theory….

  6. Hi Mary,
    Yes, Steve’s reflection is stimulating.
    Thanks for sharing your reflection. How would collective and connective reflection be used in daily and networked learning?

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