#Change11 What are those Learning Theories?

This video on Theory of Learning sounds interesting.

I then watched this:

I was however, rather surprised by the missing out of Connectivism in both vidoes as a Learning Theory, as I would have expected the creator of the video might have known about it.  Or would it be that it was left out due to certain reasons?

I am also amazed by how constructivism is described here: Mind as a Rhizome. Learning is building knowledge by doing.  If that is the case, I am wondering if the Rhizomatic Learning that Dave Cormier highlighted falls under Constructivism, or Social Constructivism.  I just don’t think that is exactly what Dave was referring to, though I hope Dave could point it out.  Here George also commented on Rhizomatic Learning.

Based on my understanding, I don’t see learning is as simple as learning in building knowledge by doing only.  There’s more to it, as it relates not only to the minds of the learner, but to the three levels as described by George and Stephen on Connectivism. George explains here:

“My network view of knowledge is simple: entities (broadly defined as well, anything: people, a chemical substance, information, etc) have attributes. When entities are connected to other entities, different attributes will be activated based on the structure of those connections and the nature of other entities that are being connected. This fluidity of attribute activation appears to be subjective, but in reality, is the contextual activation of the attributes of entities based on how they are related to other entities. Knowledge then is literally the connections that occur between entities.”

Stephen defines it slightly differently here:

“At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.

It shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Hence people see a relation between connectivism and constructivism or active learning (to name a couple).

In connectivism, a phrase like ‘constructing meaning’ makes no sense. Connections form naturally, through a process of association, and are not ‘constructed’ through some sort of intentional action. And ‘meaning’ is a property of language and logic, connoting referential and representational properties of physical symbol systems. Such systems are epiphenomena of (some) networks, and not descriptive of or essential to these networks.

Hence, in connectivism, there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, making knowledge, or building knowledge. Rather, the activities we undertake when we conduct practices in order to learn are more like growing or developing ourselves and our society in certain (connected) ways.

This implies a pedagogy that (a) seeks to describe ‘successful’ networks (as identified by their properties, which I have characterized as diversity, autonomy, openness, and connectivity) and (b) seeks to describe the practices that lead to such networks, both in the individual and in society (which I have characterized as modeling and demonstration (on the part of a teacher) and practice and reflection (on the part of a learner)).”

I am however, still not satisfied with the definition of Connectivism here on wikipedia, as it seems to lack the flavor that George and Stephen have included in their perspective.

Challenge 1. Not everyone is perceiving learning in the same way, and so it is quite challenging to realize and appreciate the principles and application of the various Learning Theories at this digital age.  This post on Connectivism surely tells another story by Claude where she concludes:

“Connective learning is the main way humans have always been learning so it cannot be challenged. However, connective learning in a digital world that hugely increases the number of possible connections does pose several challenges to learners, teachers, and educational institutions. These challenges must be met because learners are availing themselves of this digital connectivity anyway (and at times any way). Ignoring this fact won’t make it disappear.”

Challenge 2. What are the similarities and differences between Connectivism and Constructivism?

Based on my understanding about the similarities and differences between Connectivism and Constructivism in previous posts here and here.

How would a connectivist approach work? Yes, you still require the deconstruction of the student’s existing thinking, but not just based on the teacher’s input.  Rather, you would suggest the students to be immersed in networks, based on navigating activities and the using of appropriate tools or media (i.e. media and technology affordance), in exploring about the “right” and “wrong” concepts, and discerning those right from wrong through navigation tools and reflective thinking.  This is similar to what I have suggested here:

The concepts that are crystallised through such networked learning may be based on the ability of the learner to recognise and interpret the pattern (i.e. principally on the navigation and exploration, with or without the teachers), rather than the demonstration of the teacher and explanation of the concepts via “Constructivism or Social Constructivism”.  This means that the concept development under Connectivism is far more reaching than the typical “classroom” or social networks environment, but would also include technological and media enhancement for its nourishment.

See this video here on other interpretation of Constructivism and Connectivism.

#Change11 Have I told the story before? Says Clay Christensen

In this compelling presentation by Clay referred by Steve in his post, Clay tells an extraordinary story and experience about steel and milk shake, and many other great insights about how technology and strategies have caused company’s growth and demise.

Steve says:

“Firms need to be evaluating future investments strategically in terms of how they will affect their capacity to go on delighting their customers for a sustained period in the future.

For managers trained in traditional business school thinking, the idea that pursuit of profit is the problem, rather than the solution to the economy’s problems, may come as a shock. For business school professors who have spent their lives teaching the focus on profits and the use of IRR and RONA to measure profits, the coming change may be even more disturbing.

Like all new ideas, in the first instance it will be rejected. Then it will be ridiculed. Finally it will be self-evident and no one will be able to remember why anyone ever thought otherwise.”

Clay asks twice: Have I told the story before? He also re-tells the stories of successes and failures that were learnt from history, which seems to reflect similar patterns of disruption due to technology followed by successes for the copied producers and competitors in the niche market – who know how to copy the products and technology and leverage the value proposition offered to the giants, and killing the giants progressively and successfully.  That is a great lesson for everyone in the business and education to learn.

In reflection, this has happened to big education business, and even prominent education providers, including lots of HE and VET institutions, where their core competencies have been gradually shaken off by the other niche and “smart” providers in the education “market”, causing lots of disruption to their main areas of expertise.  As Clay has mentioned, this has impacted on how education been delivered, and how small and more “aggressive” and customized education providers have been able to penetrate into the online learning market, and succeeded in taking a significant market share in the education and training business.

Why was this phenomena in disruption of technology also happening in the education (HE and VET) in particular?  May be Clay could elaborate on this pattern using his model developed too.  There are still lots of gaps in our understanding of the disruptive force due to technology on our education, learning and ecology.

Innovation in education and learning via networks, technology, media and its affordance

This may also be the case with MOOC, when it has been perceived as a way to innovate and “revolutionise” the way education and learning has been delivered in individual formal institutions.  This was based on the premises that existing education system is mostly silo based, with individual faculties, and specialized  courses and walled gardens, based on standardized curriculum as the only acceptable education for accreditation.

What MOOCs have now offered, say with the MOOCs, Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) courses and the latest MIT’s MITx initiative are viewed as new and wonderful experiments, packed with lots of growth opportunities.

“President Hockfield called this “a transformative initiative for MIT and for online learning worldwide. On our residential campus, the heart of MIT, students and faculty are already integrating on-campus and online learning, but the MITx initiative will greatly accelerate that effort. It will also bring new energy to our longstanding effort to educate millions of able learners across the United States and around the world. And in offering an open-source technological platform to other educational institutions everywhere, we hope that teachers and students the world over will together create learning opportunities that break barriers to education everywhere.”” MITx initiative.

Do these mark out the strategic move to overcome the “disruptive education coupled with technology” in the education market?

Value proposition as offered through open-sourced education and free-of-charge participation and engagement is quite fitting into the notion mentioned by Clay: “Whereas products are easy to copy, integration around a job creates defensible differentiation”.

So, my take away from this reflection is:   Product (such as education, and MOOC) is simple enough to copy, especially in Higher Education, experience is however difficult to be repeated, solely by the copying of the product alone.  As mentioned in my past posts, no two stories (MOOCs or online learning experiences) are the same, due to complexities of learning, education, ecology and state of technologies.

Have I told the story before? As mentioned by Clay.  We might have told these stories repetitively, and some people still believe in looking at few aspects of the equation – to improve learning and education, that is improve teachers’ performance, introduce more technology into the curriculum, or improve the curriculum.  We might need to know and understand what makes a valuable learning experience and what drives customers (learners) to “buy” (learn) the products instead.

However, if we are just thinking about what the customers (learners) want, then I think we have missed lots of opportunities, as they may only believe in learning with certain educators, experts, and not through the affordance of technologies, or the stories, just as Clay has mentioned, which are worthy of our reflection.  We just need to be careful in reflecting on what these stories mean for our learning, and not what we are being told by others, or by writers of books, or the mere reading of books or posts.

#Change11 Education system, Education Stories and the Digital Generation

What are some of the education stories around the world?

In this Exams in South Korea- The one-shot society, the author says

“As more and more students cram into universities, the returns to higher education are falling. Because all Korean parents want their children to go to university, most do. An incredible 63% of Koreans aged 25-34 are college graduates—the highest rate in the OECD. Since 1995 there has been a staggering 30 percentage-point increase in the proportion of Koreans who enter university to pursue academic degrees, to 71% in 2009.

This sounds great, but it is unlikely that such a high proportion of young Koreans will actually benefit from chasing an academic degree, as opposed to a vocational qualification. A survey in August found that, four months after leaving university, 40% of graduates had not yet found jobs.

Unemployment represents a poor return on what for most families is a huge financial sacrifice. Not only is college itself expensive; so is getting in. Parents will do anything to help their children pass the college entrance exam. Many send them to private crammers, known as hagwon, after school. Families in Seoul spend a whopping 16% of their income on private tuition.”

In this story about education in Finland:

“Finland’s only real rivals are the Asian education powerhouses South Korea and Singapore, whose drill-heavy teaching methods often recall those of the old Soviet-bloc Olympic-medal programs. Indeed, a recent manifesto by Chinese-American mother Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, chides American parents for shrinking from the pitiless discipline she argues is necessary to turn out great students. Her book has led many to wonder whether the cure is worse than the disease.”

“Finland is a society based on equity,” says Laukkanen. “Japan and Korea are highly competitive societies — if you’re not better than your neighbor, your parents pay to send you to night school. In Finland, outperforming your neighbor isn’t very important. Everybody is average, but you want that average to be very high.”(See 20 back-to-school gadgets.)

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2062465,00.html#ixzz1hb46r2FK

Here is the top 10 Education Stories in 2011.

1. Hacking Education

2. Open Source

3. Free versions of industry software

4. Data Portability

5. Flipping the classroom

6. Talent + Money + Innovation

7. Google vs Apple vs Amazon

8. Personal learning Networks

9. Gamification

10. Schema.org

Which of the above 10 education stories would appear on the top agenda in our education system in 2012?

How would these stories impact on how we learn and educate in the coming future?  What would be the trend and pattern of learning in a digital landscape?

As shared in my previous post, we are moving towards an education and learning ecology with more conversation, engagement and participation among its global “citizens” – with the visitors and residents in particular both in formal education and informal learning.

What is amazing is that we have a “digital generation” coming along, but they would be educated based on an existing education system.  Here people are starting to challenge the assumptions behind the paradigm of acquisition of knowledge within the education system, where learners are expected to learn by the mere consumption of information via reading and watching, and then being assessed on how much they could remember, and how much they could apply in responding to the quizzes, test and examination system.

We are also having a digital divide issue that challenges us to think about our existing education system and how one nation could provide the education that would be valuable and relevant to its citizens.  “In our digital era, the stuff finding has to become a core digital skill for all teachers.  This is all the paramount, when you juxtapose information seeking skills and knowledge creation strategies with digital footprint/digital citizenship and the power of positive digital interactions for professional learning.” (Heyjude in the digital divide – what can go wrong).

Here Ian explains the importance of neuro-plasticity and how it has impacted on  our coming digital generation and has changed in the way of thinking and learning, as a result of digital and emerging technology.

Postscript: Some useful references on Digital Divide by Danica.