CCK11 Connectivism – theory and practice reflection

Here is my response to Ken on my previous post, and I think it’s better to compose this new post for further sharing.

Thanks for your valuable comments, well said too. I could see your point about the paradox of hospitality. Would connectivism welcome other views? I think we (Roy, Jenny and I ) and many others (Rita, Wendy) have tried addressing that based on our researches, that relate to the conversation in the networks, reflecting the views of the respondents, and now these are reflected in the debates about what and how it could be applied via various media and spaces – blog postings and comments (like what we are doing now).

If you (or we) don’t find enough “hospitality”, could we create them? I understand that you are referring back to the hosts as being George and Stephen, right? But haven’t they also suggested us to create our own spaces, hosts? How you and others sense and feel about these sorts of interaction, could best be reflected back to the host(s) – George and Stephen then. I have also shared many of those views in my blog of PLENK, when Chris and many others were concerned about the ethics of research and experimentation. I carried out the research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC – PLENK. I also welcome anyone interested in sharing their views and learning together. Isn’t it all about learning?

George and Stephen: what are your views?

Is Connectivism about personal possession of a theory with principles, beliefs, values, and rules (the normative practice) only? Isn’t it about participation, interaction, communication (of values, beliefs) based on openness and mutual respect when applied in practice? Stephen has emphasised openness, diversity, autonomy and interactivity throughout the course and he also stressed the importance of modelling with networks. Networking (in particular social networking) cannot operate in a vacuum, or merely with technology, though mediation via technology and the web is often required if it is about virtual or online networking. It is the human elements which make it happen – and that’s why we have the Community of Practice, the Social Networks, etc.

Theories must follow an analytical, logical positivist philosophical approach. So true. Theory is neutral in itself, though, as we could all sense it through the lens of scientific theories – as some of them are based on laws of nature. However, the application of education and learning theory requires a more humanistic approach towards how such theory would impact on human activities (especially education, teaching and learning) and its ecology. We are dealing with people, and so any impact due to technology could have significant implications on the quality and value of our life, as part of the human evolution. That also explains why there were always critics about learning theories – Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Social Constructivism and now Connectivism, where a more extensive inquiry is required to understand how they could add value to the education system and personal learning.

Education and learning is two sides of the coin, without which the society would lose its balance. As you shared “An integration of the various schools of thought, to encompass the qualities you have noted above, may not be possible. Each school basks in its own self-image, and can only have an image of its-self, when it can distinguish its-self from the other schools. And no school openly welcomes another, they all compete for the most admirers and apply their individual hosting rules to new-comers and guests.” That is likely due to the economic rationalism and the competitive nature of the education system, where each school, community and country is trying to adopt a “knowledge economy”, based on the creation and development of “knowledge workers” to excel in the global market. This also explains why social media is having its share in education (formal and informal learning) – and the issue raised (#4) about social media and the commodification of learning in Neil Selwyn’s Elluminate Session.

What might all these be? Looking forward to your writing about it.

John

Here Lindsay is sharing about her views and experience on Connectivism and its practice.

7 thoughts on “CCK11 Connectivism – theory and practice reflection

  1. Pingback: What makes a good theory? Hospitality, integration or neutrality? « connectiv

  2. Jaapsoft writes in his blog here http://bit.ly/gFYz1P
    I would like to respond to his points here:
    What makes a good theory? Refer to this post by Rita:
    “What should learners learn? How should the learning be taught and assessed? What is an educated person? Why should learners be educated in this way? And should not all educators be aware of the invisible influences on the learning and teaching process, such as ideas, values and culture which will influence the views of learning, knowledge and education of themselves and their institution?”

    “What it lacks is the role the learner plays in all this, as her or his voice is hidden in the pedagogy of the institution. The way adult learners have shown their agreement or disagreement with the relation between theory and practice is with their feet: At the moment they feel the teaching no longer relates to their lived in world and their context, they will leave the course. Of course children do not have this choice as schooling is compulsory.”

    Jaap mentions: “Theory is not neutral. It makes a lot of difference which theory you adhere to. That is the importance of a good theory. If a theory is not based on reality it is a wrong and invalid theory.”

    If theory is not neutral, then would it be a good theory (based on a scientific approach)? As I have shared in another comment, theory which is biased may not be reflective of reality then. So, a learning theory would be invalid if the learners don’t agree with the principles espoused by the theory or fail to follow the principles outlined in the theory, right? Are there any absolute truth in such a theory then?

    If a theory is not based on reality, is it wrong and an invalid theory? Are the theories – behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, social constructivism and connectivism based on reality? To what extent were theories based on reality? There were empirical findings to support those theories. With the introduction of technology and Web2.0 were all those theories still reflective of what is happening in learning in a global context? What criteria would we use to judge if a theory is right or wrong and invalid?
    Here is my previous post on reflection of learning theories and practice.
    So, we may have great or “good theory” that satisfy all conditions as Jaap has mentioned. However what happens when it comes to reality?

  3. My comment posted on Jaapsoft’s blog http://bit.ly/gFYz1P

    Hi Jaap,
    I have written a response to your post. May I share?
    If theory is not neutral, then would it be a good theory (based on a scientific approach)? As I have shared in another comment, theory which is biased may not be reflective of reality then. So, a learning theory would be invalid if the learners don’t agree with the principles espoused by the theory or fail to follow the principles outlined in the theory, right? Are there any absolute truth in such a theory then?

    If a theory is not based on reality, is it wrong and an invalid theory? Are the theories – behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, social constructivism and connectivism based on reality? To what extent were theories based on reality? There were empirical findings to support those theories. With the introduction of technology and Web2.0 were all those theories still reflective of what is happening in learning in a global context? What criteria would we use to judge if a theory is right or wrong and invalid?
    Here is my previous post on reflection of learning theories and practice (please see my comments for the link)
    So, we may have great or “good theory” that satisfy all conditions as you have mentioned. However what happens when it comes to reality?
    “Integration of different views on the truth is logically impossible.” What are those different views on the truth? What are “truths”? Are those beliefs? What we need in a theory of learning is an explanation of what and how learning occurs amongst learners, not just the perceptions of educators.

    “There are cognitive requirements that a good theory must meet, and you have ethical or moral demands on research and application of a theory. A the truth of a theory has to do with validity and truth, and not for “hospitality”. When it comes to cognitive requirements, whose requirements do we need to consider? Educators or learners? When we check on the validity and truth of a learning theory, aren’t we basing upon evidences of researches? So it is not a matter of hospitality, IMHO. However, if learning is lacking mutual respect from educators and learners (i.e. part of the affective domains), then would learning still happens? This relates back to the affective domain under cognitivism.

    It is difficult to integrate theories, but it doesn’t mean that this is impossible. Aren’t we having a conversation trying to “integrate” these theories in practice?

    Thanks again for your comments, and I appreciate your feedback too.
    John

  4. Thank you for your questions and remarks. It takes some time to understand your views. @Ken, in my view truth must be objective. Some theories are inhospitable, because of the very reason they are not objective and not true.
    @John social-constructivism and constructivism are not based on a sound philosophy, they are based on a remarkable philosophy that denies or questions reality. (Alan Sokal wrote a book about the fruits of such theories.) Learning needs mutual respect, I agree. And part of this respect is that teachers do their utmost to use trusted and scientific correct means to teach. Nobody is the owner of the cognitive requirements of scientific sound theory, just like nobody is owner of any ‘connectivist’ information.

    Why is objective truth so important?
    If truth is not objective and grounded in reality, as some post-modernist ‘scientists” want us to believe, than any theory can be right. Than right wing politicians can ignore claims of objective truth, than dictators are right because their theory is subjective and it works. It is not honest of these post-modernists to steal the only weapon of the poor and oppressed: objective truth.

    Again I appreciate your comments, and I think with you that teaching and learning is important, especially for the people with little opportunities.
    Regards, Jaap

  5. Hi Jaap,
    I greatly appreciate your comments. We have a lot of common grounds, and I totally agree that some theories are inhospitable, because of the very reason they are not objective and not true. What I think would be the interpretation and application of those theories that don’t seem to feel “right” or comfortable with us. Let me quote an example: the experimentation of Behaviorism during the 60s and 70s of last century had led to strong criticism about its impact on human. Refer to this video on Behaviorism. Positive and negative reinforcement do seem to take effect and so a pat on the back, some praises and encouragement with learners could also could make a big difference, and this is particularly effective for young kids as exemplified by Sugata’s experiment http://solesandsomes.wikispaces.com/.
    “Sugata Mitra found greater gains when he asked for volunteer “grandmothers” to bolster students’ independent learning. These folks were not subject matter experts but rather emphathetic, enthusiastic “grannies” whose job it was to say/type encouragement to their learners—things such as “Wow, I couldn’t have found all that” and “I’m so proud of you.” as shared by Leahgrrl

  6. @Jaap Yes, very good to learn together. Maybe we are not so far apart on where our sympathies lay, maybe it is just a matter of how we define some concepts…

    > in my view truth must be objective.

    Of course you are welcome to your view, as am I. My thought is that objective and subjective overlap very muchly.

    >they are based on a remarkable philosophy that denies or questions reality
    Yes, denies the reality that logical positivists claim over truth/objectivity.

    >than any theory can be right.

    Yes, any theory can be right, and that’s why there is experimentation – to see which theories work better.

    >Than right wing politicians can ignore claims of objective truth, than dictators are right because their theory is subjective and it works.

    I think that some of the worst forms of dictatorship preceded the rise of post-structuralism, and were founded on claims to ‘objective truth’. What I have read in post-modernist/structuralist writing (I’m thinking Freire, Foucault) is a desire to free up the disadvantaged, not steal anything from them

  7. Objective truth is important, that is true. The challenge is: How would a theory be objective if the theory is subjective, as you mentioned. If the truth is purely based on arguments in a modern world, then those with louder, powerful voices might dictate and that sounds to become the truth. That would be a sad story for human evolution.

    Relating to “@John social-constructivism and constructivism are not based on a sound philosophy, they are based on a remarkable philosophy that denies or questions reality. (Alan Sokal wrote a book about the fruits of such theories.)” I need to dig deeper into it before I could comment further.

    Renewed thanks Jaap for your valuable insights.

    John

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