#Change11 George Siemens presenting his views on MOOC and Connectivism

I quite enjoyed this interview recordings with George Siemens, where George shared his experience with MOOC and the application of Connectivism.

George mentioned about differences between Connectivism and Constructivism (and the various versions of Constructivism – Social Constructivism, and Connectionism) in the interview.

Relating to the difference between Constructivism and Connectivism, George states in his paper on Connectivism:

Chaos is the breakdown of predictability, evidenced in complicated arrangements the initially defy order.  Unlike constructivism, which states that learners attempt to foster understanding by meaning making tasks, chaos states that the meaning exists – the learner’s challenge is to recognize the patterns which appear to be hidden.  Meaning-making and forming connections between specialized communities are important activities.

I see the differences between Constuctivism and Connectivism as shared here.

I think one of the biggest challenges about the application of Connectivism in a formal school setting still lies with the uncertainties (and the unpredictable “chaos” ) that may arise when educators are to structure a course based on an open structure, with open PLE to be  developed by the students, and learning through “open networks and communities”.  In this respect, the educators may not be following a closed structured course of instruction that are typically delivered in formal institutions.

There are challenges which relate to

(a) the apparent lessening of “control” by the educators over what is to be learnt through the course of instruction within the time-frame designed for the course, and how well the learners are progressing in the learning, especially in the K-12, or the College environment where vocational education and training is formally structured on competency-based with defined learning goals, objectives, and performance criteria;

(b) who and how educators and students would be connected to and interact with in an “informal learning” learning environment, and how it fits into the formal school setting, where safety in education, personal security and risk management are expected to be “under control” in the formal education environment, when internet or mobile learning and technology are used by students in classrooms.

There are also major constraints when school based education is still based on:

(a) a well defined curriculum and linear prescriptive course structure with subjects taught in classes by instructors or teachers.

(b) a space and time where the teacher(s) are responsible for the teaching and students are expected to learn, and to demonstrate competency within set boundaries.  Competency would be based on assessment in the form of assignments, quiz, tests, examinations, projects etc.

(c) a pedagogical model based on instructivism – where teachers are likely the sage on the stage, guiding the students through learning in a systematic manner, using a behavioral/cognitive approach in managing and controlling students’ learning progression and competency achievement.

Whilst the above approach suits well in class-room teaching and learning for the past few decades, it has been challenged by many stakeholders (employers, education authorities, educators, scholars, researchers, parents, learners) on the relevancy of education and learning, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the education based solely on such mode of education.

Given the above challenges, what are some of your solutions towards education and learning?

How would you apply Connectivism in a classroom environment?

A starting point may be a small scale of experimental MOOC, based on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, together with the development of PLE as a pedagogical model.

Here are some resources that may be of interests:

Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? by Rita Kop and Adrian Hill

Network theories for technology-enabled learning and social change: Connectivism and Actor Network theory by Frances Bell

The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy by Wendy Drexler

http://ignatiawebs.blogspot.com/2011/10/read-mobimooc-teams-best-paper-award.html by Ignatia

More to come.

10 thoughts on “#Change11 George Siemens presenting his views on MOOC and Connectivism

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  7. Relating to Connectivism versus Constructivism, I could see the following similarities in principles:
    (a) buffer between learner & potentially damaging effects of instructional practices, dialogue rather than a pure didactic approach
    (b) provide a context – where Connectivism emphasizes the use of PLE and aggregate-remix-repurpose-feed forward in MOOC (networked learning with navigation and construction of networks), and Constructivism emphasizes on situated learning and COPs.
    (c) Learning that supports autonomy and relatedness –
    (d) embed reasons for learning – Under Connectivism-learning as personal growth and knowledge as pattern recognition (Downes) to achieve personal goals and create value networks, and under Constructivism- knowledge and truth are constructed by people and do not exist outside the human mind (Duffy and Jonassen, 1991). Learning as a change in meaning constructed from experience (Newby et al. 1996)
    (e) Both support self-regulated learning – Connectivism stresses on autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity and connectivity as property of networks. Constructivism stresses on social learning, and must be viewed as an active process where students actively construct their knowledge, and that learner is central to the learning process.
    (f) Both strengthen learner’s tendency to engage in intentional learning process – Connectivism – the capacity to form connections between sources of information, and therefor create useful information pattern, is required to learn in our knowledge economy (Siemens, 2004). Constructivism – the design task, is one of providing a rich context within which meaning can be negotiated and ways of understanding can emerge and evolve (Hannafin et al., 1997)

    – The design process is recursive, non-linear, and sometime chaotic
    – Planning is organic, developmental, reflective, and collaborative
    – Objectives emerge from design and development work
    – General Instructional Design experts do not exist
    – Instruction emphasizes learning in meaningful contexts
    – Formative evaluation is critical
    – Subjective data may be the most valuable

    – The design process is based on chaos and complexity theory, theory of emergence and self-organisation. Chaos recognizes the connection of everything to everything (Siemens, 2004). Self organization and emergence in learning explains why the process is often “chaotic” and emergent in nature, when interaction among agents leads to connective and emergent learning.
    – There are multiple objectives – all defined by individual pursuit of personal objectives, but all inter-related through complex emergent self-organised networks and communities
    – Learning is situated at personal (neuro, conceptual) and social level (outside information sources and agents) and thus is distributed across networks.
    – Instruction is based on demonstration and modelling, where learning contexts are likely based on PLE and conversation and cooperation (sharing of information). Here cooperation within networks and collaboration within groups, though small group collaboration and personal learning based on lurking emerge as self-organizing phenomena rather than imposition by outside bodies
    – Formative evaluation is secondary to learning under Connectivism. Peer evaluation of PLE and artifacts emerged from interaction, conversation and negotiation.
    – Critical thinking, curation, digital literacies and “aggregate-remix-repurpose-feed forward” is central to Sensemaking and Wayfinding

    What are the common issues for Connectivism and Constructivism?

    – Assessment based on “pre-determined learning objectives” may be a problem in a constructivist or connectivist learning environment.
    – Connectivism – which is based on the integration principles explored by chaos, network, complexity and self-organization theory needs further elaboration on how those principles are integrated in practice. It seems a paradox when networked learning is heavily promoted within institutional and corporate education and learning environment, but then the challenges remained un-resolved – on openness – OER, open design, open research, open teaching etc., digital literacy development using social media and mobile technology, pedagogy etc. Currently, there are still too many “wicked problems” – where the problems are not clearly defined, and where risk management and innovation and creativity are at “odds” in a complex adaptive system.
    – Constructivism – which is based on a social learning approach, encourages active, rather than passive learning and the use of group-based cooperative learning activities, which can be best mediated through telecommunication technologies. “A central strategy for building constructivist learning environment such as situated learning, multiple perspectives and flexible learning is to create a collaborative learning environment”. The reality is that such learning environment often requires students to question each other’s understanding and explain their own perspectives. This is easier said than done. Engagement and participation normally falls into the 1-9-90 or the 10-20-70 pattern, with the majority staying at the edge of Community. This may be due to the different backgrounds and skill levels of learners (i.e. digital literacy capacity), and the often perceived “power” and “group think” issues associated with group learning, with compliance and conformance that could silence the “critical thinkers” and “solo or solitary learners”, or the “dis-allowing” of lurkers or legitimate peripheral learners who often are situated in the networks and COPs.

    So, in summary, the absence of specific learning objectives and outcomes has earned the “criticism” for constructivism as “inefficient and ineffective”. This may equally be a challenge for Connectivism to be adopted as a mainstream pedagogy. Unless the specific learning objectives and outcomes (based on competency-based learning) are adequately addressed and resolved, it seems both Constructivism and Connectivism would still be operating in a hand-in-hand “networked” informal learning “paradigm” waiting to be absorbed as new and emergent pedagogy.

    May be the assumptions behind Constructivism and Connectivism need to be viewed under a new light, when those similarities and differences are leveraged, leading to a new form of emergent learning theory that meets the societal, institutional and personal goals. The paradoxes may be the catalyst of a transformation in education and learning. Who has got the crystal ball? You 🙂

  8. @Ken,
    Great summary as posted on Daily Discussion. As you said, I like conversation too, and so I shared your favorites. I found both epistemologies embedded in knowledge, and would argue that both pattern recognition and construction of networks are continuously evolving in personal, social and emergent learning. Constructivism relates more with the social learning aspects (happening outside brains) and personalised learning, from a instructivist and COP perspective. Whereas Connectivism relates to integration of personal learning with social learning, based on collective learning approach, with emphasis on emergent and self-organised learning, from a learner discovery and network perspective. Both theories are looking at the knowledge with a different angle, perspective, with their respective metaphors and interpretation. Connection and construction seems to link them together in a cohesive and integrated manner, though fragmentation and abundance (of information) is always evolving due to the emerging technology. Your turn. John 🙂

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