Self directed learning and learning theories

Do we assume that learning is an individual phenomena?… a social construction?… a network phenomena? Thanks to Mary’s questions.

All are assumed, as a matter of choice for self-directed learners. It depends on what higher order learning means for the learners, and the learning context. Under a cognitivist construct, critical thinking & self-reflection are the basis of metacognition (learning how to learn, and thinking how to think), whereas under a social constructivist point of view, collaborative meaning making and knowledge co-construction are the basis of negotiated learning in a community, and enculturation in COPs, and under a connectivist point of view, networks building and formation, growth and nurturing forms the basis of connectivist learning and growth of connective knowledge, with distributed networks & learning.
Photo credit: From wall paper source unknown

#CCK11 My AHA moment

I came across this interesting post on social media and social networks, and my reaction is: Aha! Social Media relate to strategies and Social Networks relate to people.

Social media is about changing people’s perceptions of products so they buy more.  Social networks are places where customers are talking about what interests them, and companies have the opportunity to listen, participate and eventually lead and provide service.

Media and Networks seem to me represent two sides of the same coin.  With media affordance, you could connect, communicate, cooperate, collaborate and achieve your or your organisation’s goals via networks (media networks, social network, biological networks, global networks).  So, it is how and why we use a particular social media and social network that matters.

However, as a retrospective or post-modem analysis of the impact of a change due to media and networks (social network in particular), we often found that what we have achieved may be somewhat different from what we have intended to achieve due to the complexity of the situation, the ecology, as  a result of the interactions amongst all those actors involved in networks, who (human and non-human) have created non-standardized small acts which could change the initial conditions of connections, communication, cooperation, collaboration etc.  Such small, though seemingly unimportant changes in the procedures or practices may lead to changes (sometimes small improvements) at a local level that we may have overlooked, but could impact the whole organisation without our awareness.  This is where butterfly effect under Chaos Theory comes into action.

What are my key take aways from this?

What and how are these values, vision, mission, systems, networks perceived and focussed in institution and individuals?

What sort of context are we referring to?

What are the nuances in between group, network, and system, when referring to values and perception?

Photo credit: Flickr Reason and Intuition

Refer to this on the matches of ideas in this world. This shows our yearning for balance, and reveal how beautiful imperfect matches can be.

The juxtaposition of visuals, items, concepts, beliefs or values via the media could influence us on how we perceive things, but it’s only when we interact that these concepts, beliefs or values would be shared, and thus leading us to re-think and evaluate the significance and impact of each of those ideas, concepts and information.  That’s where collective and connective inquiry (with the networks) and critical thinking (individually) are juxtaposed.

When I apply these concepts to the different learning theories, what concepts emerged?

Picture credit: From Siemens’ paper on Connectivism

The main differences amongst all theories lie with the differences in their focus, the values, the sort of knowledge and learning that we are referring to.  So, for prescriptive learning and well defined and structured “knowledge” acquisition and transfer, behaviourism, cognitivism could serve the purpose.  However, for emergent learning which are based on one-on-one interactions and self-organised networks,  constructivism and connectivism could serve the purpose in a far better way.

How do these translate to education, training and learning at work?

Photo credit: Flickr?

Here, we assume everyone needs training and so we put forward a group training to solve the problem.  What happens?  Everyone of us is different, in terms of our talents, intellect, and capacity to learn and perform.  So, the performance of a group of individuals would always fall into a bell shape, especially if the individuals are from a diverse network, with some who excel, some others who perform moderately well to the standards set, and then some who fail, and have to re-learn, or be re-trained due to their inadequacy or deficiency.  This is where the problem lies.

So, how could we solve such problems?  We could re-think about these “problems” in terms of what people could actually do better, not what people couldn’t do then.  This relates back to the focus, the values we place on the learning we are trying to achieve, through the group, network or individual approaches towards education, training and learning.

Does this explain why “personalised” learning could sometimes be far more effective than “group learning” when individual differences are taken into account?  Not everyone could excel in group, as the assumptions made there might simply be that people learn best in a group situation might not be always true, mainly because the assumptions have not taken into account of who those group members are, what the motivations and background skills are and whether the methods used for the group training is appropriate.

This also explains why PLE/N could make a significant difference in supporting individuals to grow in knowledge in a complex learning environment.

Photo credit: from a post source unknown.

Without strategies, we might not know how to achieve our goals.  But if the goals are to find the spear, then we would likely be looking for spears, not the snake, or the trees.  This is why institutions are reinforcing the importance of focus, goals in learning, especially when learning in a complex environment could lead to distraction, and thus making the assumption that learning together and collectively would provide the best learning outcomes.

Would this also limit the ability of individuals in seeing the trees in the forest? What happens if we have found the trees in the big “elephant”?

No single answer seems to give us the perfect solution.  It really depends on what we as individuals and organisation want to achieve, and the values and perception we associate with each decision we made, and the social values (capital) that we would like to add to the community, networks, institution, and global networks at large.

This is my “aha” so far!

Postscript: This is a video about technology (iPad), content and teacher’s education.  Another wonderful aha! Is technology the solution for education? What is the context upon which technology is used?  Is such new and emerging technology appropriate for use in education in some under-developed or developing countries?  What are the assumptions made here?  Good food for thoughts.

This is another very interesting post showing the various applications of iPad.

#CCK11 Challenges of Networked Learning

Clay Shirky’s video here sums it well on the cognitive surplus and range of creativity, in that “doing something is different from doing nothing”. He explains how widespread education coupled with 21st century technology has enabled what he terms “cognitive surplus,” or the potential for large and cumulative creative endeavours.
That is a good summary of what a MOOC could achieve.
The challenges with all these networks and communities development:
Learning that happens within such communities and networks (such as MOOC or MOON (Massive open online networks)) would be based on autonomy and idiosyncrasy of its networkers or members, and so networked learning would become fragmented, all across different media and learning landscape.  People could be participating actively in certain networks whilst inactive in other networks at any point of time, especially when they are exposed to new and emergent tools, media and practices (COPs).  Such landscape of practice with multiple networks engagement and interaction (with PLE/N) would be a huge challenge both for educators and educational institutions, as these seem to deviate significantly from the “best-practice” pedagogy that focuses on teaching to be delivered under the control of institutions.
People could be morphing along different trajectories within and along such media landscape or their periphery, to enhance their learning, with or without the presence of knowledgeable others, via active participation or lurking.  Such self organised networks  would be situated in formal and informal clusters of networks, which re-shape their configuration as the media changes.  This could also develop into an ecology where ubiquitous networks are competing, cooperating, or collaborating with each others for educators, learners in this creative, fragmented and adaptive digital economy.
How do you see its future?
Photo: from Flickr