#PLENK2010 2 Short stories Part I

Why are learning theories important in learning?  Do they provide us with solutions to learning?  What are their merits, limitations and applications?

Jenny posted the relevance of learning theories here.  I like her evaluation of learning theories, in that she had applied them under different scenarios, and elaborated on why she has chosen each of them.

I could see the significance of different learning theories at different stages of life.  How about connectivism?

One of the best ways to connect with oneself and others would be to reflect upon what we have experienced in our life, to make sense of what applies to our learning, as Jenny has done, and to develop and create new, novel and more effective ways of learning through such interaction and engagement and or with the use of tools and networks.

The growth of learning through such connections to people, ideas and networks however could be impacted by various factors, as discussed here on the riddle of online resonance by Matthias and Jenny, our research papers on Blogs and Forums as Communication and Learning Tools in a MOOC and The Ideals and Reality of Participating in a MOOC, and in George’s presentation on Complex Knowledge and Personal Learning Environment.

George’s article on Comparing connectivism with other learning theories provides a useful summary for reflection on the principles & application of learning theories in teaching and learning, and learning in the community and networks.

What I think is needed are more stories of application of some of the success AND failure stories for sharing, so as to understand the merits and limitations of each theory of learning in our life experience, and the assumptions we have made when applying a theory in a particular context or situation.

These – 2 short stories were included in my previous blog comments. I would like to share them here.

I think I have experienced the same feelings of confusion when exposed to some “new and unclear” activities or ventures. I remember this story. When I was at Grade 5 (11 years old), a novice teacher (under teacher preparation and training course) instructed us to play the game of “bow and arrow” in class, a “Robbin Hood” sort of game. Each of us took turns as the “target” with 2 to 3 others took turns to shoot. It was fun, but I wasn’t sure what the purpose was. And some of us were disappointed when we missed the target, as most kids couldn’t aim properly. Though everyone laughed and enjoyed. In retrospect, it was one of the most interesting activities to train kids on motor skills, though more safety measures (provision of goggles, safety suite, and words of caution) should be used, and a debriefing should be given. Still then, I wonder how much a young kid at that age could understand.
Another incident happened when I was in grade 7 (13 years old). The teacher instructed us to catch some cockroaches, and to observe the lifespan of such interesting “creature” and its ecology. I was the only student who caught a few live cockroaches, put them into a jar and cover the top with a paper punched with some air holes. The teacher locked the jar into the cupboard. Then, after a few days, when we attended the science session, the teacher opened the cupboard, but then found that the cockroaches all crawled from the cupboard, dashed and danced all around the classroom. And all of our classmates including me hopped up and down to catch them back, or even stamping them. You could imagine it, screaming, horrors, Oh! missed it! Got it! Wasn’t it funny? Wasn’t it exciting? Did I learn? Luckily, no one was injured, including the cockroaches. But I felt rather odd and confused, because I was the only one who obeyed the teacher’s instructions in the first place, and then there… was the embarrassing moment when the cockroaches found their way, and I had experienced one of the most exciting, but chaotic moment in my learning.
In reflection, I didn’t understand the hidden meaning or learning at that age, but now I understand what could be done instead, to turn it into a rich, purposeful, meaningful learning experience.
Nothing teaches better than such games when one is still young, and some structure, scaffolding and debriefing is deemed necessary to reinforce the concepts and learning points.
How did all these compare to the e-connective learning? I learned a lot through practical hands on at that age, and my experience could be further enriched if I have a chance to explore the wonderful virtual world, just like Alice in Wonderland through connections.

I have plenty of interesting anecdotes to share, especially on adult learning, but would like to learn yours too.

What sort of guidance do you think would be important with your experiences with those young kids?

How about your stories of PLE/N? What sort of guidance do you think would be important when working on PLE/N?  Have you experienced any failures in connections with PLE/N?  What could we learn from those failures?

Is self-directed or organised learning important in PLE/N? Why?


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