#Change11 #CCK12 What kind of connections do we want at this digital age?

Aren’t we all looking for connections in the networks and in real life?

Why do we need connections?  Jannalou says:

“I am a person who prefers solitude to a crowded, noisy coffee shop, and who will seek out a quiet corner at a party, even when there are plenty of friends around.

So I enjoy being alone. I’m an introvert, so that makes sense. (I behave much like an extrovert, but I firmly believe that has more to do with behavioural programming overtaking and sabotaging internal wiring than it does my actual nature and personality.) I have called this blog my “hermiting blog” specifically because of this sense of disconnect that I feel in crowds of people. I do not find groups to be engaging or energising… they are simply draining.

Yet, in spite of this need for solitude, I feel an overwhelming drive to forge connections with other human beings. The need for connection to God is stronger, but this desire for connection with another person – it is, I believe, what drives most people to pursue romantic relationships.”

She continues: “Solitude is not the same as isolation, and it is not loneliness. It is merely the state of being alone for a period of time. Some people are only alone when they are asleep; others, like myself, actively seek out solitude on a regular basis. We need time alone to recharge, to grow, to nurture our inner selves.”

I share some of the views of Jannalou.  I think solitude is very important for personal reflection and learning.  This may stem from my views of the world and experience when learning and working with others, with technology and networks, where connections could be healthy and fruitful on one hand, but challenging on the other hand.  It seems to me that the kind of connections would make a big difference, especially in the establishment of relationships, and in learning over networks and technology.

In this amazing talk by Sherry Turkle:

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.

Are we leading a life which relies heavily on connections, based on technology?  In a world where we seem to be so busy all the time, that we won’t even bother to have a conversation with each others, are we passing by each others, without much attention on the message, or bother to listen to others’ message?

How would we be able to establish relationship, and maintain connections if those conversations are just superficially touched on?

How would we expect to understand and lead others if we don’t practice empathetic listening and reflective learning ourselves?

There is another side of the technology mediated connections and conversation. Here in my post:

May I add that this is where we could get our connective and collective wisdom from? Aren’t we once very creative as kids?   Our creativity gradually gets lost as we tried to march through the busy life – the manic society.  We have been too busy in trying to do the things right, as is expected in our formal education, learning and that at work.  That sounds great, in terms of performance in study, at work.

However, are those sufficient for us (me) to do when it comes to personal development and social involvement?  How would creativity be instilled at work and learning at this digital age?  Should we concentrate on what’s most important and valuable in our study or at work only?  Do we need to connect in a way that could both satisfy our needs and passion but also challenge our wisdom of knowledge, learning and living? What spark the most creative part of our life?

We are basing upon the emotional selection of memes in our sharing, and memes play a big part in creativity development.  ”Constant, rapid “mutation” of information during communication generates endlessly varied creations that nevertheless adhere to modular input conditions.”

Photo credit: from Flickr

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Stephen for the referred link.

CCK11 Connection with networks and communities

Lindsay shares here on language and logic:

How would *anyone* go about explaining something with no linguistic or propositional characteristics? Without language and logic, how do we communicate?

Widged responded with:

As educator, our focus is rather on instructional design. Our task is not to understand how learning happens, that’s what cognitive scientists do (cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists). Our task is to use the knowledge provided by others as to how learning happens to design instruction that works. Our job is to implement.

If I understand Widged correctly, then he was emphasising on the instructional design rather than an understanding of how learning happens.  Should an educator (as a learner or knowledgeable other) understand how learning happen?  If not, how could an educator help the learners in learning? Besides, why would an educator use the knowledge provided by others to design instruction that works?  Would the educator need to work with the learners in the design of instruction?  Is our job as an educator just to implement?

Frances in her response to Lindsay’s post includes slides here. Frances concludes: Connectivism as personal theory – allows practitioners to legitimise what they are doing (Cormier).  Connectivism as a knowledge network, learn from itself, include ANT, SST and other descriptive theories, BUT need rich case studies to provide empirical base.

Is Connectivism a personal theory of learning? I think it tries to explain how and why learning occurs based on connections, within oneself cognitively, conceptually, and with others socially through networks.  So successful learning would depend on one’s connection with others and artifacts – or connectivity with engagement and communication in networks.

So what does it mean to be connected with others, or artifacts?  Would people need to connect with others based on a communication model – using language and logic?  May be if we want to understand each others’ thoughts, we need to go beyond the “traditional” understanding of the typical communication model in networked learning.

Photo: wikipedia

How does communication work?  Communication involves a sender encoding the message, transmitting the message via the media, and receiver decoding the message.  So, what are the assumptions here?  An understanding of others requires way beyond the expressed message – especially in writings in social media, where body languages are absent.  The sender may provide hints about his/her emotions based on emoticons and express feelings through tones of the language.  A TRUE understanding of others requires an open, trustworthy sharing of ideas, and feelings by each others, and so there is a certain level of INTERACTION between the nodes in the network.  Otherwise, it is a one way broadcast of ideas by the sender, with little or no feedback in the “communication process” from the receiver.

In Twitter, there may be one-way broadcasting or sharing of ideas and links, though there are amplification of tweets through re-tweets.  The followers may respond to the tweets which could lead to further conversation with brief tweets and links.

In Facebook, there may be more sharing of ideas and links and interaction between “friends” and communities, leading to a two-way communication.

In Quora, the posting of questions and responses may be one way of interaction where discourse could develop.  Due to the design of Quora, people who share common interests may form a network or community of interests based on the focussed questions.

In Jenny’s post of Connection is where we are here

She mentions: To me it seems that the emphasis in connectivism is often on social learning and social connections.  Personally I very much enjoy discussions with close friends/colleagues about mutual interests, so I am not anti-social – but I am aware that the extent of my social connection is very small compared to others on the web. I have no need for a wide circle of friends or connections and I respect those who prefer to be connected to concepts rather than people.

Is more connection better?  Though there are many merits with more connections, I don’t think that is always beneficial.  It depends on our needs and  what and how the connections would add value or benefit us.  Sometimes, the information overload (and the corresponding filter failure) could outweigh the benefits of connections.  What I think would be critical is how those connections would impact on us, in personal and professional growth and development, and how we would adapt ourselves to a changing ecology.

Stephen’s in his networks, neighborhoods and communities concludes:

If we can approach the concept of ‘interaction’ from the network perspective, allowing for the existence of many types or strands of interaction, many degrees or strengths of interaction, various interactive media, and more (as I tried to explain in this series).

I have discussed how interactions would impact on learning here on Students apathy or enthusiasm.

How would the types of interaction, degrees or strengths of interaction and types of interactive media impact on individual learning and learning community?

What are the essentials of supporting an online learning community?

#CCK11 Why Connectivism – and social networks are important?

The post by George on Connectivism provides an overview on what Connectivism is and why it is important.  Stephen also highlights in the post on What is Connectivism.

As shared by George, Connectivism is important because:

Connectivism finds its roots in the climate of abundance, rapid change, diverse information sources and perspectives, and the critical need to find a way to filter and make sense of the chaos. As such, the networked centrality of connectivism permits a scaling of both abundance and diversity. The information climate of continual and ongoing change raises the importance of being continually current. As Anderson has stated, “more is different”. The “more” of information and technology today, and the need to stay current, forms the climate that gives roots to connectivism.

The importance of learning lies with the connections.  And that we must stay current with up-to-date information.

In this The hidden influence of social networks

Nicholas Christakis shares the insights he gained through the study of social networks:

*Different structural locations have different impact on your life – So in CCK11, how you participate in the network would have different impact on your learning, and the saying of: “the more you get involved, engaged with others in your networks through participation or contribution, the more likely you would get what you want”.   In order words, the more active or engaged you are in the social networks, the more likely you would influence others or be influenced by others in the networks or communities.

*Our Network Position is Partially Heritable – To what extent is this true when learning in and with social networks?  May be those more influential people have got genes inherited from their parents, and so they would hold positions as comparable to their parents that are also influential.  I would like to see more evidences in case of social networks with a learning focus – like CCK11

*Networks have values – and there are different kinds of social values associated with learning through social networks.  My experience with learning through social networks – Facebook and Twitter and that in CCK08, 09, CritLit2010 and PLENK2010 do enable me to appreciate the values with social networks, by having virtual networked learning, and sharing of ideas and collaborating with others on projects (via wikis, blogs etc.).

*Connections Matter

– Graphite

Diamond

reside in the interactions of atoms, and so type of connections would decide on their “strengths”

Photos: from Flickr

The ties between people matter – that means that strong or weak ties with connections amongst people in the networks do affect the sort of learning of individuals and the networks.  Also the learning that emerged through networked learning is likely greater than the sum of its parts (i.e. individual learning).  How would these be translated and reflected in our learning with CCK and PLENK?  In theory, different (sorts of) ties do matter in learning, and so could impact on the sort of learning each of the participants are expecting and experiencing in networks.

I would need to dig deeper into the research findings to uncover these propositions on networked learning.

* Spread of good and valuable things in social networks matters – so the spreading of happiness and altruism are important in social networks.  I suppose the spreading and sharing of valuable artifacts and learning in CCK11 could make a difference in individual and social learning.

In summary, connections matter. By studying social networks, we could have a better understanding about how emotions are shared or spread in social networks.  We could also better understand other phenomena in social networks which are associated with ideas generation and spreading (memes), education development, business and market share and failures, economics, health issues and the spread of diseases etc.

How about your experience with connections?  What are the positive and negative aspects of connections you have found so far, with CCK or social networks?

#CritLit2010 Critical Literacies

I have also enrolled into the Critical Literacies course led by Stephen Downes and Rita Kop.  Many thanks to Stephen and Rita for their generosity of offering such an open course.

My response to Jenny’s inspiring post on Critical Literacies

Hi Jenny and Mike,
So excited to learn your views, a source of inspiration that reinforces the importance of establishing, refreshing and renewing connections and relationships with each other, the networks, and the community at large, and at times. Jenny, I love your question: Is age an issue? It is a hard one for me to answer, as I have kept on thinking about the “treasure” we have when we grow older – and whether we become wiser or not both mentally and spiritually? Are the wisest great connectors? Would literacies help us in becoming wiser? How about the critical literacies of “relationship building and development”? Is it similar to EQ?
What I treasure most is the relationships we have, that could last for a life time, rather than the mere knowledge we “possess”, which is often ephemeral in “currency”.
We are just a “click” from each other, with internet & web 2.0, so I would take the opportunity in connecting with you, and the closest 6 degrees of separation (new networkers) in this course.
Mike: Your view on the significance of ties make me think deeper into the notion of social construction of knowledge. How do we represent such “social” knowledge in our “mind”?

Jenny: Enjoy your trekking, and hope you won’t be too stressed out with the deadlines this month.

See you soon.
John

Relating to the course on Critical Literacies.

Here is a video on Critical Literacy:

There are 6 important questions raised:

1. Where is it coming from?

2. What are the implications of thinking like that? What are the social, political, economical and environmental implications?

3. How could this be thought otherwise?

4. Who decides?  Who decides what’s true, normal, mainstream?

5. In whose name is this statement made?

6. For whose benefit?

I am mulling over the discussion on the evolving definition of experts here.

In reflection this could be referred to:

Question 4: Who decides?  Who is the authority in the subject domain?

Question 5: In whose name is this statement made?  This is particularly the case in referring to the authorities in research.  What are the credentials of those experts?  Are they theorists, practitioners or both?

Question 6: For whose benefit?  Who would benefit most from the decision made? How about the power?

Do you see experts as the main source of critical literacies?  Who are the experts?  How about leaders as experts?  I have posted this on The Future of Leadership.

So, could we draw a metaphor with the message on “Singularity” as posted in “meet the Supermassive Black Hole Experts” to the search for “truth” for “literacies” in this “blackhole” of internet?  Do we really know all the literacies required to catch up with the advancement in technology?  Who are the experts deciding on the literacies?   How would you decide on the literacies required for yourself?  How about this learning to learn by Stephen Downes?

The Two Monks

Two monks were walking in the early morning. They approached a river which had been swollen by the melting snows into a torrent. The torrent was sweeping right over a small wooden footbridge.
A frightened beautiful young woman stood by the new bank. Sighting the two monks, she pleaded tearfully with them to take her across.
Without saying a word, the first monk took her into his arms and held her high as he waded across the footbridge and set her down on the far bank.
The two monks continued their journey in silence until sunset, when their vows of silence permitted them to speak.
The second monk turned on his brother and asked angrily, “How could you have picked up that woman? You know that our vows prevent us from even thinking about women – let alone touching one. You have disgraced our whole order!”
“My brother”, replied the first monk, “I put that woman down early this morning. It is you who have been carrying her around all day!”
If the two monks were teachers, and the beautiful young woman was the learner, what would this story or metaphor tell you?
Would torrent and bridge mentioned in the story be –
Torrent – learning barriers?
Foot bridge – connections, technology?
Comments?

Strong versus Weak Ties

In this Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism by Barry Wellman

Much thinking about digital cities is in terms of community groups. Yet, the world is composed of social networks and not of groups. This paper traces how communities have changed from densely-knit “Little Boxes” (densely-knit, linking people door-to-door) to “Glocalized” networks (sparselyknit but with clusters, linking households both locally and globally) to “Networked Individualism” (sparsely -knit, linking individuals with little regard to space). The transformation affects design considerations for computer systems that would support digital cities.

Are strong ties losing favour to weak ties for individuals (educators and learners)?
Let’s see.  My reflections
Strong versus weak ties
How many of us have strong connections (or ties) with our colleagues, our immediate supervisors or family members, relatives? 
Do we share our inner feelings and emotions (level 3 and 4, the deep ones) with them?
Do we trust them?
Do we comment and criticise them? 
Do we judge them in a fair way?

Have you got polarised answers?  Why?

Why do people prefer weak ties to strong ties?

– Could establish “trust” and friendship with someone at a private level (i.e. with those who are not close at work or family)

– Protect ones privacy and identity

– Hold ones integrity

– Less conflict

– More willing to share due to openness

– Become more confident in establishing relationships

– Wider connections – gain insights from diverse perspectives and learning from different domains

– A “test of uncharted waters” – could try different networks, connections

– Failure to connect or interact doesn’t harm that much, could try again

– Have dream “partners”, “co-learners”, “professors” or “instructors”…

Are there any implications with this strong versus weak ties?

Limitations with staying on with strong ties (work place, strong groups or communities)

– Learning with your peers, colleagues and supervisor or family members is limited to that of your family group, section, organisation, and sometimes within the same domain, the closed little box

– Group think – everybody tries to conform to the rules, and please others to create harmony.  Complacency follows. 

– Wrong decisions – finger pointing, poor communication, poor judgment, misinterpretation of patterns

– Waiting to be directed at work or at home, especially when one is under an autocratic “leadership” environment. Why border? Lack of initiative. Lack of innovation. Low self esteem, confidence and motivation to learn.

– Dare not share the beliefs with others.  Poor trust and respect on each others resulting from conflicts. Poor relationships follow

– Competition rather than collaboration.  Lose – Lose becomes the way

– Politics, control, gossiping, destructive comments and criticisms poison the ties.

Merits with strong ties

– Learning with your strong connections could more easily establish professional “friendship” and “respect”

– A team approach towards problem solving. Team building leading to even stronger ties.

– Common vision and missions.  Gearing of strategies towards vision and missions. 

– Adoption of a pragmatic approach in collaboration. 

– Win-Win, if the team develops positively towards “Best Practice”. Continuous improvement and innovation.

What are your experiences?