I have just read the up-dated principles on connectivism by George Siemens. I am glad and impressed that he has added one of the most important elements in connectivism – the emotional dimension in learning, and that he has highlighted its primacy in connectivism.
I am intending to research in this area – the emotional elements which are critical in the personal internal and external connections building, formation, development, and sustaining, using technologies (such as Web2.0, internet and other digital media). And how a person’s principal style of learning (i.e. director, relater, reflector and thinker) will have an impact on such connections under connectivism.
Though there has been numerous researches done in the psychological domains (Self Determination Theories), learning styles theories, learning styles, on-line learning and Web 2.0 application in various context, what I found were often conflicted views on the theories and their limited validity in different contexts and use, especially in personal learning.
I tend to conclude that theorising the teaching and learning using a pedagogical approach would sometimes lead to over-generalised conclusions at this digital age. Experience and knowledge accumulated in the CCK08 have already hinted that diversity of views on knowledge formation and development(by Maru, Viplav and Carlos) could only be meaningful and applicable if there are significant merits in reflecting what, how and why people learn in a networked environment.
Charlotte Allen’s “Postmodernism’s Dead End” provides an interesting account on what is epistemology.
The review was less about Cusset’s book than about Fish himself and Fish’s own ideas about the postmodernism: the notion, promulgated by the ur-postmodernist and Fish idol Jacques Derrida, and now the reigning orthodoxy in college literature departments across the country, that essentially there’s no such thing as reality, and there’s also no such thing as a “you” or “me” with sufficient rational ability to know anything about that reality. All we have are “texts” or “narratives” that may purport to tell us what is real (example: a scientific article) but are actually no more than self-referential expressions of ideology (such as belief in scientific progress). Fish wrote: “All we lose (if we have been persuaded by the deconstructive critique, that is) is a certain rationalist faith that there will someday be a final word, a last description that takes the accurate measure of everything. All that will have happened is that one account of what we know and how we know it — one epistemology — has been replaced by another, which means only that in the unlikely event you are asked ‘What’s your epistemology?’ you’ll give a different answer than you would have given before.”
This has a significant implication when it comes to the transfer of knowledge across domains and the significance of epistemology from an individual and network perspective.
The transfer of knowledge from one domain to another domain is therefor another important area of research study. This could have a significant impact on domain experts’ interpretation of what makes “valid and reliable” knowledge. The multi-faceted view of knowledge and learning perceived by domain experts need to be examined and researched systematically under an open system, from an ecological perspective. It’s imperative that networks of diverse domain experts be invited and encouraged to re-examine the impact of technology in learning and education in this era. And both the educators and learners to develop methodologies that could be used to validate the knowledge under a network approach. The e-learning network conference presentation and discussion, community of practice networks, wiki (wikipedia) and (institutional, educational and personal) blogs, and research papers websites have provided viable solutions to such validation. Further research are required to consolidate the findings of such validation approaches.
The transformation of such transfer of knowledge along the networks will accelerate the learning and educational shifts at grass roots and institutional level.
This also means that grass roots level’s urge of a shift of learning paradigms and the associated institutional educational reforms must be weaved with those developed by domain experts and grassroots network to ensure that both paradigm shift and reforms are sustainable, at least at a local, community or national level. As each community has its immediate needs, it would best be addressed at such a level by the community networks. Educators, learners, community networks and institutions (governments, educational institutions and businesses, and unions) must also be involved and consulted throughout the different stages of development of such educational reforms. This ensures transparency in policy and principles, equity in access (to networks and resources such as technology) and resource support (financial and technical) are thoroughly considered. Again a network approach to such consultation is desirable to ensure the Wisdom of the Crowd are feedback to the networks, with increased wisdom and learning for the networks and institutions in response to changes.
How could this be achieved? The development of free open education courses (or open learning networks) on the global market would encourage more people who are ready “learners” to be engaged in active learning at a grass root level. This could be based on the MIT OpenCourseWare or Yale’s University course model. When professors, professional teachers and enthusiastic graduates, and learners are involved and inter-connected in such open learning networks (or in such open course at a university level), a synergy of learning will give rise to a proliferation of high quality, cost effective network learning. Such approach will lift the community of practice approach near to its ideology, and would be an added value to professors’ and teachers’ credibility in reaching the learners in a proactive manner, beyond the traditional educational boundary. Such a learner centred approach will truly enshrine the learning networks that are developed, and will inspire more educators and learners to join in to build a better community.
The leverage of this open education approach will further accelerate a community’s education and learning on a cross domain level, culminating the merits of “liberal arts education”, “vocational education and training”, “community education” and “university education” as required by individuals and societies. This will also lessened the boundary that existed in the fundamental educational institutional, public and private educational and training providers’ setting.
The educators and learners of different levels could cross “cultivate, teach and learn” their knowledge and experience under such a free education and knowledge network. The e-mentoring approach which has long been promoted in education, business and industry could be incorporated under such a network model. Both educators and learners (or mentors and mentees) grow and develop together in “multi-visions and missions” networked learning ecology.
There are many implications to this open education or mentoring approach apart from those mentioned by Dave Cormier on his 3 little pigs story on MOOC and the pre-requisite knowledge in order to build a solid foundation on the open education course:
(a) Will substantial research in this education initiative be needed? Do we need to ensure that educators and the administrators are fully aware of the merits and risks in the design and development of curriculum and network formation?
(b) How will funding and costs be established under such open education courseware, networks or “university”? Who will fund such initiative?
(c) How will stakeholders and their interests be considered to ensure long term growth and sustainability?
(d) How would market segmentation be considered? Is it necessary to aim for the right target market of “educators” and “learners”?
(e) Whether a blend of “educational” and “business” approach is preferred in an open market educational programs?
(f) Should the establishment of such University or networks be based on some sound business and education principles? What are those principles?
(g) What are the visions and missions of both the University or networks and the associated networks (i.e. the University or institutions that are associated with this open education networks)?
It’s also imperative to look at the Trends Shaping Education 2008 and a blog post by Don Ledingham that summarises the Trends Shaping Education 2008. This report on Trends Shaping Education provides important roadmaps for future changes in education in the OECD member countries.
Open education is not a dream, this is already happening around us.
- How would we be able to meet up these challenges – on research, development of networks and open courses and learning networks?
- What do you see will be the most important areas of research in network learning under connectivism?
- How could such researches be achieved?
- What sort of open courses are useful for your community? Will it be in Liberal Arts Education for the adult learners?