CCK11 Connection with networks and communities

Lindsay shares here on language and logic:

How would *anyone* go about explaining something with no linguistic or propositional characteristics? Without language and logic, how do we communicate?

Widged responded with:

As educator, our focus is rather on instructional design. Our task is not to understand how learning happens, that’s what cognitive scientists do (cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists). Our task is to use the knowledge provided by others as to how learning happens to design instruction that works. Our job is to implement.

If I understand Widged correctly, then he was emphasising on the instructional design rather than an understanding of how learning happens.  Should an educator (as a learner or knowledgeable other) understand how learning happen?  If not, how could an educator help the learners in learning? Besides, why would an educator use the knowledge provided by others to design instruction that works?  Would the educator need to work with the learners in the design of instruction?  Is our job as an educator just to implement?

Frances in her response to Lindsay’s post includes slides here. Frances concludes: Connectivism as personal theory – allows practitioners to legitimise what they are doing (Cormier).  Connectivism as a knowledge network, learn from itself, include ANT, SST and other descriptive theories, BUT need rich case studies to provide empirical base.

Is Connectivism a personal theory of learning? I think it tries to explain how and why learning occurs based on connections, within oneself cognitively, conceptually, and with others socially through networks.  So successful learning would depend on one’s connection with others and artifacts – or connectivity with engagement and communication in networks.

So what does it mean to be connected with others, or artifacts?  Would people need to connect with others based on a communication model – using language and logic?  May be if we want to understand each others’ thoughts, we need to go beyond the “traditional” understanding of the typical communication model in networked learning.

Photo: wikipedia

How does communication work?  Communication involves a sender encoding the message, transmitting the message via the media, and receiver decoding the message.  So, what are the assumptions here?  An understanding of others requires way beyond the expressed message – especially in writings in social media, where body languages are absent.  The sender may provide hints about his/her emotions based on emoticons and express feelings through tones of the language.  A TRUE understanding of others requires an open, trustworthy sharing of ideas, and feelings by each others, and so there is a certain level of INTERACTION between the nodes in the network.  Otherwise, it is a one way broadcast of ideas by the sender, with little or no feedback in the “communication process” from the receiver.

In Twitter, there may be one-way broadcasting or sharing of ideas and links, though there are amplification of tweets through re-tweets.  The followers may respond to the tweets which could lead to further conversation with brief tweets and links.

In Facebook, there may be more sharing of ideas and links and interaction between “friends” and communities, leading to a two-way communication.

In Quora, the posting of questions and responses may be one way of interaction where discourse could develop.  Due to the design of Quora, people who share common interests may form a network or community of interests based on the focussed questions.

In Jenny’s post of Connection is where we are here

She mentions: To me it seems that the emphasis in connectivism is often on social learning and social connections.  Personally I very much enjoy discussions with close friends/colleagues about mutual interests, so I am not anti-social – but I am aware that the extent of my social connection is very small compared to others on the web. I have no need for a wide circle of friends or connections and I respect those who prefer to be connected to concepts rather than people.

Is more connection better?  Though there are many merits with more connections, I don’t think that is always beneficial.  It depends on our needs and  what and how the connections would add value or benefit us.  Sometimes, the information overload (and the corresponding filter failure) could outweigh the benefits of connections.  What I think would be critical is how those connections would impact on us, in personal and professional growth and development, and how we would adapt ourselves to a changing ecology.

Stephen’s in his networks, neighborhoods and communities concludes:

If we can approach the concept of ‘interaction’ from the network perspective, allowing for the existence of many types or strands of interaction, many degrees or strengths of interaction, various interactive media, and more (as I tried to explain in this series).

I have discussed how interactions would impact on learning here on Students apathy or enthusiasm.

How would the types of interaction, degrees or strengths of interaction and types of interactive media impact on individual learning and learning community?

What are the essentials of supporting an online learning community?

CCK11 Testing and concept mapping

In this post on getting tested is better for studying than concept mapping:

Researchers this week have found that, for fact-based subjects, practising a retrieval exercise produces better test results than concept mapping.

Publishing in Science, the researchers claim that it’s both the act of recall and the act of reconstructing knowledge that are key for learning. But if you’re still a huge fanatic of concept mapping you could, of course, combine the two by creating a mind map from memory. So if you want to do well in exams, just make sure you test yourself!

Is learning an act of recall and reconstruction of knowledge, especially in Science?  This post on “Research finds practicing retrieval is best tool for learning” mentions that

The researchers showed retrieval practice was superior to elaborative studying in all comparisons.

“The final retention test was one of the most important features of our study, because we asked questions that tapped into meaningful learning,” said Karpicke.

I think this could be challenging for educators: on the notion of retrieval practice as a better way of learning.  Would this bring us back to the Mastery Learning as discussed here and here?

Mastery learning, which is based on retrieval practice could be very effective in classroom-based and self-paced learning.  Also it is aligned with the principles of learning with a content-based knowledge.  So, retention of knowledge could be enhanced by Mastery Learning.    But does it work equally well in a connectivist learning environment where knowledge is distributed, and most likely not a “thing” to be acquired (as proposed by Stephen in What Connectivism is not).  Here learners do not ‘acquire’ of ‘receive’ knowledge; learning is not a process of ‘transfer’ at all, much less a transfer than can be caused or created by a single identifiable donor.

What if learning involves reflective practice, which cannot be easily tested? There are science practices which are not only based on “factual information” but a process of critical thinking and reflection in the learning process.  What would be a more effective way to learn then?  Would it be a recall and reconstruction of knowledge? Or would it be using Web 2.0 tools such as blogs?

CCK11 Why blogging?

The responses to this question depend on whether one is a first time blogger (novice or beginner), an advanced or veteran, an expert or master blogger?

This may be a SIMPLE AND OLD question, but you may be surprised by how each of “us” would respond!

Here are my posts on blogging:

Myths and reality of blogging

Why should one blog?

Have bloggers polluted the media?

Resonance or dissonance in Blogging under Connectivism

Stephen shares some of his views and experience on blogging here and blogs in education

Jenny’s post about blogging here and here.

Lilia’s blog on her PhD and blogging

A reflection on the benefits of blogging


Blogging as social activity

Blogs and Forums as Communication and Learning Tools in a MOOC.  (pp. 275-284).

Blogging Practice

E-Learning Practices and Web 2.0

Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector

Web Logs and Online Discussions as Tools to Promote Reflective Practice

Why Blogs

Slides on Blogging:

What’s next?

I have been thinking about an ambitious project: On a meta-research on Blogging – collecting and synthesizing blogs of all kinds – great blog posts from Master to Expert Bloggers and wonderful blog posts from novice to advanced bloggers.  Perhaps leaving the evaluation of such blogs to our bloggers in the blogosphere!

Why Blogging? Your response……….

CCK11 Connectivism and Assessment

Thanks Jaapsoft2 for your reference what’s the evidence post and comments to my post.  Pass-fail sounds interesting to me.
I have composed a few posts on assessment. Here and here.
The challenge with assessment based on a connectivist learning approach is to come up with an assessment method which is catering for the learners’ needs, but also satisfying the criteria set by the educator and educational institution, as that is often needed to fulfill the accreditation requirement. This may sound complicated as most assessment used are based on learning contracts or mass assessment rubrics, which are standardized to a certain extent, though there are some leeway towards personalization. However, under a connectivist learning, the learning that emerges may not be measured easily by the assessment method (and the relevant rubrics), as there might be tacit knowledge and learning based on serendipity that are not accounted for.

So pass or fail in assessment may be useful for making judgment on the learners from an educational perspective, but what is more important is for the learners to reflect on what they have actually learnt through the practice, even if there are failures encountered in the learning process, and thus provide a valuable feedback to the learners on areas they could further develop and improve.

Learning based on a connectivist approach does carry lots of risks, experimentation, and so successes and failures are just part of the learning process. Feedback which focuses on the strengths of the learners, rather than the mere weaknesses of learners would help the learners in boosting up their confidence in their learning. To this end, it may be more appropriate to emphasize the importance of learning through goal setting, strategic planning and connectivist learning using various tools, media, and networks. In this connection, failures would be viewed as part of the complexity of learning in the learning process and journey, rather than the labeling of failure as totally undesirable in learning.

Failure is the mother of success. So, may be instead of giving a pass/fail as a grade, I think the use of capable and not yet capable might be a better alternative to describe the outcome of the learning, though the meaning behind what it means need to be clearly understood by the educators and learners under a connectivist environment.

We all have failed, in one way or the other in our learning, though we seldom labelled ourselves as failures. So far if we have learned through our failures (by reflection and corrective action), then we could claim success

The product of learning is the learner, and so there is no failed learner IMHO, only that the learner may not yet be capable of performing a task or understood the concepts or theory as yet.

We are all successful learners, as we are all capable of doing certain tasks. So that is our option in learning – choose something that make us a success, though we all could encounter failures in the process.

How does it sound?


CCK11 Connectivism – perspective and reflection

This is my response to questions posted by Thomas here.  Thanks again for his great questions.

1. Is connectivism only for the benefit of an autonomous, self-directed learner, like you and me?

Connectivism could benefit not only autonomous, self-directed learners, but also all other learners who would like to develop higher order learning skills in their life-long learning journeys. There are lots of assumptions here, and so I don’t think we could easily identify the learners who would benefit most with connectivism. This depends on learners’ prior experience, their learning habits, their perceptions of learning with technology and media, and their motivation. As most adult learners could be confused by the complexity of learning whilst immersed in learning networks (internet and webs), especially if they are exposed to such learning environment as “novice”, some would doubt about their perceived “digital migrant” status, and may withdraw from learning. There may be more “unlearning” required for such learners before they could overcome the lack of confidence in learning.  Besides, a feeling of lack of security, language barriers, and insufficient information, technology and social skills, and a lack of or poor access to technology could deter learners from learning under such a digital learning environment.  So, connectivism may be more suitable for (technology) innovators and early adopters at this stage.

2. How could a teacher get students, who learn because they have to, because they are going to be tested and thus have to know certain information, and thus, understandably, lack intrinsic motivation to learn?

It is very difficult for teachers to motivate students to learn, especially if the students are lacking the “intrinsic motivation”. However, teachers could create a learning environment that is conducive to learning, as I have shared here, through interaction with students, or encouraging and supporting students in their learning journey. Could we do away the testing and still be able to assess if students are able to demonstrate their capability or capacity in “knowing certain information”? How about negotiating with students so they could develop their skills – with learning by doing? How about assessment projects (like eportfolios, or problem based learning) which could cater for their needs? Other methods could include the development of artifacts (videos, podcasts, slideshows, blog posts, wikis, games) which may help them to consolidate their learning in a progressive manner (the formative assessment). The use of interviews with experts, knowledgeable others, or professionals of a domain would enable the learners to reach out to the outside world, so they could understand the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for certain jobs or careers. The adoption of PLE (Personal Learning Environment) would stimulate the learners to take responsibility of their own learning. So, what could a teacher do? A lot? Would this depend on the learners’ needs, and support required? As a teacher, it is important to realize when intervention is required, and when it is not necessary. There is a saying: “If we try to teach the students too much without understanding their needs, we are “taking” away their learning opportunities” Would it be better to allow the students to make their choices in their learning journey, so they could be “motivated to learn”? Would it depend on what they need and what support and advice would benefit the student most?

3. Would you say that connectivistic learning is powerful enough to overcome the inertia and lethargy common to most students in our schools and universities?

Connectivist learning is one of the learning strategies (and philosophy) and as shared in (2) above, it depends on the students and learning environment and system. My experience is that if we are just to add those PLE/N into the current system (i.e. still relying on lecturing, testing of students using the traditional means), then most students would only sense such connectivist learning as an additional “component” to their often “congested” learning curriculum. Besides, for those students who have been so adapted to the traditional lecturing approach, they would hesitate if such learning would benefit them that much, as the development of PLE/N could involve a lot of hard work, as well as the perception that it’s the duty and responsibility of the teacher as the principal source of information (i.e. to teach), or that the teacher as the only curator, to provide them with all the necessary resources required to learn. How would we be able to convince students to take the initiative in developing their own learning? This could be a huge challenge for any educator. Also, good teaching is good teaching (which could include all those elements that I shared in (2) above), rather than the delivering of a fixed time lesson or lecture followed by a test or examination only.

I don’t think I could conclude that connectivist learning is powerful enough to overcome the inertia and lethargy as you mentioned, but surely it provides an option to both educator and learner to consider in schools and universities. We are still at an experimental stage in the adoption of such networked learning strategy in formal education, and more evidences (case studies on the adoption of PLE/N and Connectivism) are required to justify the claims of its added value to learning, education and the education system.

What are your perspective on the above questions?

#CCK11 Why Connectivism – and social networks are important?

The post by George on Connectivism provides an overview on what Connectivism is and why it is important.  Stephen also highlights in the post on What is Connectivism.

As shared by George, Connectivism is important because:

Connectivism finds its roots in the climate of abundance, rapid change, diverse information sources and perspectives, and the critical need to find a way to filter and make sense of the chaos. As such, the networked centrality of connectivism permits a scaling of both abundance and diversity. The information climate of continual and ongoing change raises the importance of being continually current. As Anderson has stated, “more is different”. The “more” of information and technology today, and the need to stay current, forms the climate that gives roots to connectivism.

The importance of learning lies with the connections.  And that we must stay current with up-to-date information.

In this The hidden influence of social networks

Nicholas Christakis shares the insights he gained through the study of social networks:

*Different structural locations have different impact on your life – So in CCK11, how you participate in the network would have different impact on your learning, and the saying of: “the more you get involved, engaged with others in your networks through participation or contribution, the more likely you would get what you want”.   In order words, the more active or engaged you are in the social networks, the more likely you would influence others or be influenced by others in the networks or communities.

*Our Network Position is Partially Heritable – To what extent is this true when learning in and with social networks?  May be those more influential people have got genes inherited from their parents, and so they would hold positions as comparable to their parents that are also influential.  I would like to see more evidences in case of social networks with a learning focus – like CCK11

*Networks have values – and there are different kinds of social values associated with learning through social networks.  My experience with learning through social networks – Facebook and Twitter and that in CCK08, 09, CritLit2010 and PLENK2010 do enable me to appreciate the values with social networks, by having virtual networked learning, and sharing of ideas and collaborating with others on projects (via wikis, blogs etc.).

*Connections Matter

– Graphite


reside in the interactions of atoms, and so type of connections would decide on their “strengths”

Photos: from Flickr

The ties between people matter – that means that strong or weak ties with connections amongst people in the networks do affect the sort of learning of individuals and the networks.  Also the learning that emerged through networked learning is likely greater than the sum of its parts (i.e. individual learning).  How would these be translated and reflected in our learning with CCK and PLENK?  In theory, different (sorts of) ties do matter in learning, and so could impact on the sort of learning each of the participants are expecting and experiencing in networks.

I would need to dig deeper into the research findings to uncover these propositions on networked learning.

* Spread of good and valuable things in social networks matters – so the spreading of happiness and altruism are important in social networks.  I suppose the spreading and sharing of valuable artifacts and learning in CCK11 could make a difference in individual and social learning.

In summary, connections matter. By studying social networks, we could have a better understanding about how emotions are shared or spread in social networks.  We could also better understand other phenomena in social networks which are associated with ideas generation and spreading (memes), education development, business and market share and failures, economics, health issues and the spread of diseases etc.

How about your experience with connections?  What are the positive and negative aspects of connections you have found so far, with CCK or social networks?

#CCK11 Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Week 1

This is my third round of joining Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (after CCK08, CCK09).  This CCK11 would be another exciting learning journey for me, as I would like to spend more time in applying what I have learnt at work this year.

Why would I do this CCK11?

I am still exploring and learning about Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, as there are lots of areas that I think I would like to develop further learning on:

(a) Learner autonomy and its impact on learning (as shared by Jenny in her numerous posts here of First Thoughts about Stephen Downes Model of Autonomy ) and Stephen’s post on Autonomy

(b) How learners perceive Connectivism and Connective Knowledge in their learning journey and networked learning.

(c) How the properties of networked learning: autonomy, diversity, openness, interactivity and connectedness would impact on individual and social learning.

(d) How Complexity (based on Complexity and Chaos Theory) would impact on individual’s connective learning.

How would I achieve the above?

(a) By participating in the networks and conducting research through course readings and reviews, and reflecting on the learning and research findings.

(b) By creating and composing artifacts and research articles reporting on the above, within the next 3 months

(c) By applying what I have learnt through the course at work or with people of other networks and communities

Here I would start with:

I love reading Jenny’s post on the start-up and having watched and listened to the recording of the First week Wednesday session, have come to an understanding that:

(a) The course is designed based on a decentralized learning space and platform where each participant feels free and comfortable to choose and decide upon. This CCK11 would attempt to steer away from LMS (based on Moodle discussion) and would fully embrace the spirit of PLE/N in the networks.  There is a all discussion threads here for participants who want to raise topics for discussion.

(b) In this course wiki Stephen highlighted the important activities involved through this How the course works :




Feed Forward

The expectations of the facilitators are: Do feel free to Create, Interact and Track throughout the course.  George, the facilitator in his suggestion on “what to expect?” included:

(1) A bit of confusion at the start

(2) Don’t try and read everything: skim & dive

(3) Take what’s relevant now – the archive will be here for later.

(c) So in the diagram of How Learning Occurs:

It involves: Educator and Learner in the Process of:

Aggregation – Integrated services (iGoogle), RSS Readers, gRSShopper

Curation – The Daily, Course resources & Readings, Interaction around learner artifacts

Interaction – Asynchronous Interaction, Quasi-Synchronous Interaction, Synchronous Interaction

Creation of Artifact – Individual, Collaborative

In response to questions about how knowledge is created through the artifacts, George emphasized the importance of growth of knowledge, rather than the creation of new knowledge.

I would like to reflect on Stephen’s post in the Elluminate Session: “George and I don’t have an agenda of ‘content’ that we want to ‘teach’ as implied by course objectives.”  My interpretation is that Stephen is encouraging participants to learn through the open sharing of multiple perspectives, artifacts, participation and interaction with each others (where participants could also be playing the role of the educators and learners from time to time, under certain situations, like blogging with explaining of what has been learnt through personal readings, reflection or commenting on the resources, artifacts, or other blog posts), whereas the facilitators are just one node of the network, and so wouldn’t be “teaching” to the content  as typical in a traditional online course.

In summary, I appreciate George and Stephen’s great start in CCK09, where the course is now designed with open and diversified elements – like decentralized learning space and media, choice of tools and media, learner autonomy, normative and negotiated learning strategies (aggregate, remix, repurpose, feedforward)  and a whole set of new and emergent ideas (for new comers) (in terms of connectivist principles of learning as the forming of connections, construction and navigation of distributed knowledge, and that knowledge is distributed across networks).

As I am still working on the research findings and literature review on the Design and Delivery of MOOC-PLENK, I would need some time to consolidate my learnings from the research.

I will come back to the sharing of the first 2 weeks’ of readings of the course at a later time.