Connectivism and PLN

Peter Sloep said in Google + “Where I definitely do disagree with her is that PLNs are founded in the theory of Connectivism. Connectivism still has to prove its worth as a learning theory and I would not want to have the useful notion of a PLN depend on the fate of Connectivism as a theory. That said, PLNs are all about social learning, as is Connectivism, so the two are definitely connected.”

Are PLNs founded in the theory of Connectivism?  Connectivism is based on the notion that learning is the result of connections of nodes in networks – as the capacity to build, construct and navigate across networks (including social and personal learning networks, and the neuronetworks).

In this connection, PLNs relate to Connectivism but it is more than the social learning, mainly because it covers the neuro, conceptual (cognitive & across different domains) and social level.  I understand that when Connectivism was first postulated in George’s paper, there seemed to be a stronger focus on social learning, which then led to a debate whether it is just a re-coining of social constructivism with technology as basis of  connections and mediation.

I have shared the similarities and differences between Connectivism and Constructivism (and Social Constructivism) in my posts. Stephen has proposed the elements of diversity, autonomy, openness and interactivity and connectivity as properties of networks, which seem also focus more on the social learning.  However, these social learning would need to relate back to the learner at the three levels, in particular the perception and interpretation of learning based on individual’s experience, in order to make sense (i.e. the sensemaking).

It seems that most of the evidences collected in research relates to the social learning, at a collective level, rather than the individual learning, based on the those tacit and explicit knowledge developed as a result of “connections” at a neural and conceptual level (and these are very hard to be evidenced and quantified, but could be revealed through more narratives and discourse analysis and checking of the connections using brain scanning).


Personal Learning Environment and MOOCs

In response to a post here, Peter Sloep comments on Google +

Peer learning makes a lot of sense but as one of the tools in the box only. We’ve done work on this, see the PhD thesis by Peter van Rosmalen, back in 2008 already: See also a paper by me: There are pedagogical issues but the really hard part is developing the supportive technology that works at the level of large networks.

Thanks Peter for the precious sharing.  I have browsed through the papers, and there are many points worthy of deep reflection, especially in the peer learning and PLE/PLN. The development of supportive technology that works at the level of large networks, as Peter said could be a challenge, especially if such technology is overly rigid.

Take MOOCs as examples of technology platform, should one consider distributed platforms/social media, or a hub (VLE/VLM) for MOOCs?

Should MOOC shift its pedagogical to be more adaptive (or more connective and engaging) or should it stay with a prescriptive design (emphasising on one standardised model only – especially in mastery learning and common examination or quizzes)?

Are learners involved in the design of curriculum or instruction?

How would PLE/PLN developed by participants support MOOCs?

My sharing of cMOOCs

More sharing on xMOOCs in part 2.