Problems due to Spam Attack are now solved

There are some spammers in the name of Alfie Hamilton and Vernetta Kramer attacking our Ning website.

Let’s stay calm to overcome this problem.

I am trying every means in stopping this vicious action.

John

Please note that the spammers have been removed from our Ning website and we are back to normal operation.

I am sorry for any inconvenience that have caused.

John 25 May 2009.

Can a network of learners serve the same roles as a teacher or professors? Revisited

This is my response to Jenny’s post on: I don’t know what I don’t know http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2008/11/23/i-dont-know-what-i-dont-know/

Hi Jenny,
Thanks for this in-depth analysis on that important question. As mentioned, it is pretty difficult in generalising nowadays, as even situated learning is contingent to the situations.
In network learning:
Is there a teacher needed in a network?
Who are the “teachers” in a network?
Why does one join the network?

Not all scientists like to work in a network, Newton is a typical example. His lecture was not filled with any “student”. He liked to work alone. There are few Newton nowadays.
Even Einstein preferred to conduct research (i.e. on relativity). Isn’t it interesting? Many great philosophers and scientists were lonely researchers and thinkers, and they may not like to be bound by the rules of communities, society, so as to allow their creativity to flourish. Besides, society places higher values to those great educators and research scientists (the Nobel Prize winners in particular). How would one be remembered in history? Individual or collective contribution?
Nowadays, people could only achieve their goals with the co-operation, collaboration and connection with others. One needs “learners” to become a “teacher”. So teachers and learners need to be connected. And it all comes back to the vision (pathfinding) of both learners and teachers.
George and Stephen are leading the way in this course, and they deserve the credits in opening up the avenues towards connectivism.
Is teaching still a noble profession? In a commercial world, is corporate training more important than higher education?

Power on fire!

This is my response to Lisa’s post Control by Personality http://lisahistory.wordpress.com/

I read the post with great interest.

“It seems to be the perception of power that is important”… “As with all effective aspects of learning, personality may be another overlooked element…”I echoed with your view and insights. 
As a teacher myself, I had never taken drastic actions without first consulting my learners (all adult learners).  I realised that a teacher’s integrity lies with “one’s walking the talk”.  So unfortunately, the spirit of networking has been greatly affected, and I don’t think that’s conducive to learning, especially for adult learners and teachers.  My comment is based on an incident, rather than based on a person.  And as I am not a learner looking for credits, I didn’t want my comments to affect others’ grading.  And I realise how upset people (co-learners and lurkers) are.
However, I think this is a revelation that a teacher’s “great knowledge and power” doesn’t come from inside of that person, but from outside.  And I learnt that respect can only be earned if a teacher is truly “compassionate, empathetic and knowledgeable to and engaging WITH the learners or teachers – peers”.  May be that’s the missing element in connectivism??  Is it?
No one likes to learn without emotions or feelings, otherwise we will become the computers, which could be switched on or off by others.  And I do not believe that computer can “learn” as much as human do, and as smart as human too. 
Do you think you and your students share such feelings or emotions towards power?  Is it the reason why connectivism is so “hard” to stay alive if people are just “connecting” without feelings?  Or are people really connected? I have seen such happenings often in organisations, and the result is…I would NOT be bent with power…., though anyone could play with it.  But it is like playing with fire.  It hurts.

Thanks for your inspiring post. 
Cheers.
You are welcome to comment on my blog https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com

Reflection on the role of learners in networks – Connectivism in practice

When I reflected on what has happened in our CCK08, http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=668&action=article, where interaction and contribution of readers and learners were encouraged,  what I realised was a cautionary approach in the interaction between co-learners.  Whenever someone is trying to adopt a teaching approach, there would be a “tension” developed mainly because the co-learner has not been prepared or able to accept the “teacher-learner” or “expert – learner” role.  The learners might be preferring to adopt a “peer to peer” or “learner to co-learner” approach in learning on some occasions.  This seems also is the case in blogs, when the readers or co-learners were responding or commenting on each others’ blogs.  I have already noted numerous feedback from the blogs.  See my discussion in the forum on the different roles one may have in a network:  http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=956  Also, see Frances Bell’s comments on group and network discussion in  http://eduspaces.net/francesbell/weblog/485692.html and the forum discussion on groups and networks posted by Ailsa Haxell on passion vs reason. http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=956, where there were interesting and heated debates on passion and reason amongst teachers, learners and co-learners.  And the follow up discussion and debate via the blog by Terry Anderson:  http://terrya.edublogs.org/2008/10/20/more-on-groups-versus-networks-and-collectives/

Is such role conflict an issue in your teaching or learning?

If there are such role conflicts in networking or web 2.0 applications, what do you think will be some better ways to resolve them?

Chaos, complexity – The platform to stage and participate in a networking environment

How would you stage and participate in a networking environment?

Would a network (say in a forum) be staged as a

(a) peer review

(b) teacher vs learner vs co-learners (similar to the digital classroom/workshop where learners and teachers all interact, only that in this case we are all talking/responding at the “same time” or “same topic at different times”)

(c) question/response debates on different perspectives

(d) reinforcement of advanced concepts, applications development (for academics and teachers)

(e) cultivation of new ideas and development in teaching and learning under the umbrella of “connectivism” (not only for professionals and para-professionals, but also for any one who are involved in learning)

(f) some of the above or one that I haven’t mentioned here.

As each participant (especially in this forum) is playing a different role at different times and interacting with each other as we progress through the network, some of us may prefer just to reflect (and be a lurker) to see what may be gained out of this, while others would prefer to reflect/share via blogs.

This leads us to think again about learning as chaotic (mainly because we may be carrying different hats/roles as we interact and think the other parties are carrying such a hat/role as well).

So even in the forum like this, due to differences in the perspectives and roles, you will find un-ending debates (that’s healthy) as well as emotions (that’s part of network learning) that could be accounted for the complexity of digital network learning and connectivism (connections of all kinds).

I think there is always a blend of passion and reasons in groups and networks.  And you wouldn’t be easy to distinguish them easily, as role of the participants (learners and teacher inclusive) often change.  Also, the stage of development of networks are important (a complex and chaotic situation).

One thing is certain though, I think, we all wish to support and help each other in our forum or through blogs in our network development, irrespective of the roles, at least to move forward in our learning journey, even if participants (teachers and learners) have different perspectives and understanding of connectivism, and that the future outcomes/development of such networking or learning is unpredictable.  And that networking (both digital and non-digital) is always part of the life journey of everyone, whether we like it or not.

And you could even agree with disagreement in forum or blogs….  But I think we all value our discussion here at the moment. Otherwise, we would have spent time elsewhere.  

Are you looking for passion or reason or both?

Do you find some chaos, and complexity in this learning development?

Complexity, Chaos – The Butterfly effect

There was once a famous Chinese philosopher called Chon Chow.  In his dream he saw a butterfly that could fly and he thought he was a butterfly too.  When he woke up, he didn’t know whether he was actually a butterfly living in reality or was merely dreaming himself as a butterly with illusion or fantasy. 

Imagine if each of us is a butterfly and flap our wings, what would be the outcome of such flapping?  What are the impacts of such flapping on the environment, the weather?

The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly‘s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. Of course the butterfly cannot literally cause a tornado. The kinetic energy in a tornado is enormously larger than the energy in the turbulence of a butterfly. The kinetic energy of a tornado is ultimately provided by the sun and the butterfly can only influence certain details of weather events in a chaotic manner.

Individual and Group Learning (when each of us is flapping our wings) could be chaotic due to the various sources of information and “shared knowledge” under a digital or virtual world.

Learning as a network (with many butterflies flapping our wings and interacting) could be complex. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events.  And when there are many butterflies flapping the wings, this may cause further changes in the initial condition of the system.  So the sharing of such knowledge is also complex, unpredictable and emergent.

Have you flap your wings yet?

“A small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events”, when applied in education could mean that if each individual is to connect and cooperate with others via networking, then this would cause a chain of connections and events leading to large scale alterations of learning events.  Such emergence of shared knowledge is unpredictable.  An adaptive curriculum may also be required to suit the individual’s changing needs.

This also explains why a fixed curriculum may sometimes be less effective than an adaptive curriculum in the education system due to the complexity and chaotic nature of “learning” and its poor responsiveness to emergent knowledge.   This may be the reason why “an open and adaptive  curriculum” is welcome in adult education.

Do you find this in our CCK08 course?