Learning Theories and the Assumptions behind them

Thanks Peter for a thorough review of General System’s theory.  Here is my post relating to a critique on whether Connectivism is a new learning theory or not https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/my-reflection-on-connectivism-as-a-new-learning-theory-to-date/ I have been participating in the discourse about Connectivism since 2008, and since then I “believe” that it is a new learning theory.  However, I have raised many critical questions since then, in particular the notion of learning, as you have also mentioned in your comments – the social learning, at the level of learner behavior, and psychological ideas about motivation, rational choice behavior etc.

What I think is important is that connections in network is necessary but not sufficient in learning, and the principles that are postulated under Connectivism could also be emerging and are not prescriptive in nature.

Indeed, even the theory of emergence and the principles of Complexity Theory are very difficult to be applied in education.  We might however, be best to have some principles and a theory that approximates what actually happened, based on empirical research findings, rather than waiting for a complete learning theory that would soon prove to show that whole is greater than the sums of their parts, and that reductionism doesn’t reflect the reality of the truth.

I suppose that there are so many variables and strange attractors in an open system that any significant changes in parts of the system could create a totally different pathway (of learning) that may hardly be explained with conventional learning theories.  Even with the tens of thousands of research papers proving certain points of learning, we could challenge the assumptions behind each of the theory by critically examining the evidences presented, and the conclusions are: it is only valid if the assumed conditions are satisfied, based on certain context, certain people with certain behaviors (rational behaviors in general, and certain motivation patterns etc.) and certain professors and students etc.  That might be some light based on the arguments and evidences presented, using the scientific and empirical approaches towards research into those learning theories.

Nevertheless, I reckon there are still differences in perceptions and interpretations of any theory of learning presented, due to our differences in each of our learning experiences.

Research, Wave Theory and Curiosity

I would explore and reflect on Research, Wave Theory and Curiosity in this post.


I have changed my way of doing research through my blog posts: quite a bit.  I trust that we could experiment with blog-post followed by peer & community review approach in doing research.  I have been thinking about narrative and case study researches instead of mere surveys.  This would ensure the theory model building is based on mixed research methods, and grounded on application-theory combination – grounded theory.

Wave Theory

I have been thinking knowledge and learning along the lines of wave theory – i.e. learning as waves – resulting from the neuron-connection, that waveform as shown on the fMRI scan denotes the knowledge pattern and wave propagation as a learning both at a micro and macro -level.  Here, the concept of fractals could be useful to denote the propagation of knowledge growth.  Complexity Theory and Chaos Theory – where emergent learning arises could be explained when different waveform meet, causing interference patterns (either constructive or destructive interference – similar to the amplification and dampening action as in self-organizing networks), and different types of waves would be formed upon interaction.

I haven’t shared any of the above ideas to any one yet, as I started to think right now except the one here.  It didn’t resonate with anybody else.  Has anyone explored about these?

Wonders of Nature

Video that may be of interest

My curiosity

My wild questions on assumptions pop up about nature of everything, relating to the interconnected nature of science, where one wave sets up the changes (a ripple stirs up another set of waves, like the butterfly effect).  We speak and hear – through sound waves, we see through light (light waves), we sense through touches – sensory “waves” – muscles contract and extend, we breathe and smell through air (air in the form of wave), we think with brain wave, we send signals through electromagnetic waves.  Even earthquake, air turbulence, typhoon, hurricane, tsunami and black holes are the results of huge waves, some visible, some invisible!

Photos: Wikipedia Butterfly Effect

Would wave be a way of connection?

I wrote these before realizing the video on Curiosity, wonderfully crafted below, with narratives of Feynman.

Postscript: I just found this video about Waves, narrated by Feynman.  What a coincidence of the concepts behind!

I found this video useful in explaining about Waves in Brain

#CCK11 On PLE and Complexity Theory

Lindsay Jordan comments here that the most productive state to be in is at the edge of chaos – where variety and creativity rub shoulders with competition and co-operation.  I have been on this state of the edge of chaos since CCK08, and so that is why I keep on with my inquiries.  What does it mean to be at the edge of chaos?  Information abundance? Filter failure?  No, that is only part of the equation in living with chaos!  It is about searching for traces of “emergent” learning in a sea of webs, networks, personal identity within the community and networks, and igniting our creativity based on a search of ideas amongst a host of memes, PLE, and people.

I would like to respond to Keith’s post here.  We learn both personally and socially, through various learning platforms and media, and follow such trajectories within and around the boundary of networks from time to time, so as you said it is and, and, and, and not about learning just in solitude.  There are moments of learning when I found each mode of learning would have its place (i.e. PLE and LMS), depending on the sort of learning environment one is more comfortable to learn with.  I could see Dave’s concern about the lack of presence of the educators or even the college setting in the PLE formula. However, I would argue that PLE is an augmentation and extension of the formal HE education, especially in the case of University students, as it is an environment to support learning, and could not fulfil the accreditation role normally granted by the institutions. Relating to the COP as a bridge between personal learner and his/her lived in world, I reckon learners are now leveraging COPs with a combination of PLE/COPs/MOOC to form NOP (Networks of Practice), which may be part of their CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) and co-evolutionary Learning System within the learning ecology.

I think complexity theory would provide lots of food for thoughts for our education and learning.  We are now in the cross-road in education and learning, at a challenging time, when PLE, institutional education, personal learning and social media are all entering into our equation of life-long learning.  We have to make wise decision to find our way in personal development, and also re-think about how we could contribute to our community, society and global community at large.