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

#CCK11 What is the value of memory?

I enjoyed reading Donald’s post relating to Tony Buzan: True or False.

To me, good memory could be good for good things, but bad for remembering the traumas, conflicts, the wars, if nothing is learnt through such moments, leaving the negative aspects of them untouched. So are the mindmaps, which might only provide episodes of the mind (in forms of schema) in a conceptually related map. It’s only when one reflects on the significance of such mindmap that would lead to a deeper understanding of the meaning behind those moments of learning. I reckon mind mapping is a natural emergence, and so it is not an invention by anyone. Memory is now available also in the “clouds”, and so is the mindmap on the internet. So mindmaps cannot be “copyrighted” and regulated any more. It’s the open sharing without boundaries that keeps human connected with such “mindmap” inherent in conversation, where we are all part of it in this connected world of communities and internet. I don’t see the need of memorising all the “facts” in order to live meaningfully.

I would only sigh if people are still thinking mindmaps would make them rich and famous. May be that is their choice. I believe that our altruistic mindset is more valuable in human evolution, rather than the mindset of mindmap as a commodity.

#CCK11 A summary post of participation and engagement in CCK11 MOOC

Here I would like to reflect on the participation and engagement in CCK11 MOOC.

I think we often made assumptions about learning in a networked learning environment. To what extent are those assumptions true in an open complex learning ecology?

Here learning as conceived as a process of becoming a member of a certain community in CCK11(MOOC)  is challenged.  To what extent has participants become members of such community?

My personal participation in CCK has varied throughout the years.  In CCK11, I participated mainly through blogging, and still found it quite refreshing, as I found new insights and ideas from different participants of the course.  There are many great posts by GeorgeStephenZaid, KenThomas, Jaap, LindsayDamien, Leahgrrl and many others.

Here bloggers of CCK11 posted 810 posts to date.   The top creators go to Thomas Baker and   Jaap who have surely created hundreds of posts. I have created or re-posted 80 posts so far 🙂

On the CCK gRSShopper course discussion thread there are 50 posts.  Stephen tops the list with 22 posts, accounting for 44% of the total threads in the facilitation.  Ken contributed 8 posts, accounting for 16% of the total threads.

On the FB CCK11, there are a total 505 posts with around 400 on discussions (mainly because some others are introductory posts only, and they were not counted).  Who are the top posters there? Amongst them are Jaap, Christine, Ken, Jennie.  There are many others – Wolfgang, Rose,  Scott, Thomas, Vanessa, Carol, and Lindsay who contributed much to the discussion and sharing there.

I shared my views here about my FB participation.

Finally, I didn’t participate much in any discussion platforms like FB CCK11 or the course wiki, not because of my lack of interest in the theory and principles. I think I am in a “retreat” and reflection mode, looking back into the formation of networks and COPs as a way to go. I am more interested in research and the practical activities (like collaborative projects, or cooperative events – like the CCK09 Elluminate Session that Frances, Roy and you organised) etc. As Stephen has mentioned, action and experience is the basis of learning under Connectivism, and it is through action learning that we could actually see how it works.

There has been rich Twitter postings on CCK11 everyday.  Just on today, there were 26 Tweets.  You might have collected the statistics on the number of Tweets from CCK11.

I haven’t checked on other media on the CCK11 distributed discussion and learning, other than blogs, gRSShopper, Facebook and Twitter.  Please include them in the comments or your blog post for sharing.

What could I conclude?  There has been some significant changes in the way participation and interaction happened in CCK11.  For some participants, they have expressed wonderful feelings about their participation in such distributed manner.  Some like the gRSShopper central forum, others like the FB forum discussion, whilst some others would like to post on their blogs and or as Tweets.

It’s about autonomy, idiosyncrasy that is evident in such “self-organised learning” in MOOC.  Everyone learns differently.

What you get could be what you give, and the more you give, the more you may get in return, especially in CCK11, MOOC.

I could sense that some are very satisfied with their learning experience here. That’s great step ahead, in the connective world of networks and the immersion in open education and networks.

Photo: Credit from Zaid post

What have I learnt? That’s to be shared in my coming post.   But in brief, my learning is to prepare myself to continue with my learning and research journey.  Still in progress..

Finally, many thanks to Stephen and George for another wonderful CCK11 course for free, and many others who have been on this learning journey together in the course. See you 🙂

#CCK11 We are the MEMES Carriers

This post on How to steal like an artist and 9 other things nobody told me by Austin provides a fresh perspective on the artistic ways of living and working and creative ways of looking at different things – through lateral thinking when “switching” perspectives – like having an extra line in between the two lines.

You have a mother and you have a father. You possess features from both of them, but the sum of you is bigger than their parts. You’re a remix of your mom and dad and all of your ancestors.

Yes, that sounds interesting.   Here about gene : When proteins are manufactured, the gene is first copied into RNA as an intermediate product.

A chromosome consists of a single, very long DNA helix on which thousands of genes are encoded.

I would like to use the metaphor of:

Artefact as chromosome

Ideas as genes

to explain how we use ideas to develop an artifact, based on our perceptions, experiences and copied ideas from other blog posts, information sources, comments and feedback.

These copied ideas could take on various forms – “colors”, tastes, viruses – the memes.

These memes are explained in wikipedia

A meme is a unit of social information.[2] It …. identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another. The concept comes from an analogy: as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information.

A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[3]

Aren’t we all memes carriers and couriers when blogging, sharing, participating and interacting in the blogosphere, FB, Twitter?

Would the synergy come from the summation of the ideas from our teachers, parents, relatives, friends, colleagues, peer learners, fellow bloggers, information sources, artifacts?

Susan explains this well in her presentation:

memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She makes a bold new argument: Humanity has spawned a new kind of meme, the teme, which spreads itself via technology — and invents ways to keep itself alive.

I think we have been copying ideas from each others throughout history, in formal and informal education, and more often now we borrow our ideas from each others without even aware of that act when interacting in the social media, in informal learning.

I posted in FB and twitter:

Tomorrow would be better. Why? I could borrow your ideas today and return them to you by tomorrow with thanks.

So, I hope that is just COPYING, as I have quoted the source of information, and attributed them whenever possible.  If I re-present those ideas through re-mixing, then such ideas could be churned into artifacts which encode those ideas in different ways and forms.

Here Austin has sieved through the abundance of information and crystallized them with a wonderful insight below:

In this age of information overload and abundance, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s important to them.

May I add that this is where we could get our connective and collective wisdom from? Aren’t we once very creative as kids?   Our creativity gradually gets lost as we tried to march through the busy life – the manic society.  We have been too busy in trying to do the things right, as is expected in our formal education, learning and that at work.  That sounds great, in terms of performance in study, at work.

However, are those sufficient for us (me) to do when it comes to personal development and social involvement?  How would creativity be instilled at work and learning at this digital age?  Should we concentrate on what’s most important and valuable in our study or at work only?  Do we need to connect in a way that could both satisfy our needs and passion but also challenge our wisdom of knowledge, learning and living? What spark the most creative part of our life?

We are basing upon the emotional selection of memes in our sharing, and memes play a big part in creativity development.  “Constant, rapid “mutation” of information during communication generates endlessly varied creations that nevertheless adhere to modular input conditions.”

Photo credit: from Flickr

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Stephen for the referred link.