#PLENK2010 Connectivism & PLENK- my interpretation

This is a response to Mary on my previous post on transformative learning.  I think I would like to share it here, where I would elaborate on my interpretation of the theory of connectivism and how it relates to PLENK.

Thanks for your wonderful sharing.
We all learn differently, due to many factors, as you mentioned. So when it comes to learning on the web & internet, we may have used different strategies that are based on our capacity, skills and experience – critical literacies etc.
1. Do a full understanding of PLENK theory and practice necessary?
2. Does a full understanding of PLENK in theory and practice require “transformative learning” (as asked by Carmen)

There are two questions here: For Q1, what is involved in PLENK theory and practice? I don’t think we have come up with an agreed PLENK theory as yet. There are PLENK practice which are all based on idiosyncrasy and again there are only general principles which are found to be useful if followed. I think we have been discussing and critiquing on the constructivist (VLE) and connectivist approaches (PLE) and it would take another post for further sharing.

Q2. Relating to transformational learning theory:
This theory has two kinds of learning that is involved with it. Those learning theories are instrumental learning and communicative learning. With instrumental learning is focuses on “learning through task-oriented problem solving and determination of cause and effect relationships” (Taylor, E. W., 1998, 5). With communicative learning it is involved with how others communicate their feelings, needs and desires with another person.

So, I think it pretty covers part of the learning of tools (PLE/N or the Web 2.0) with instrumental learning. Also, it addresses the communicative learning that are often associated with how we learn through understanding of our own feelings (internal reflection) and others (reflection with others via sharing, participation and engagement in activities or conversation)
I could argue that we don’t necessarily need too much theory to formulate such learning, but it may be good to reflect on the significance of these learning on our growth. Similarly, when we adopt a connectivist approach, what we might have done is to use a new and emergent kind of vocabulary, a more complex system (i.e. Complex Adaptive System) approach in understanding our learning more holistically.
I would think we need an ontological learning with some details extracted from excerpts:

“An ontology provide a shared vocabulary, which can be used to model a domain, that is, the type of objects and/or concepts that exist, and their properties and relations.
While a conceptual schema defines relations on Data, an ontology defines terms which with to represent Knowledge. For present purposes, one can think of Data as that expressible in ground atomic facts and Knowledge as that expressible in logical sentences with existentially and universally quantified variables. An ontology defines the vocabulary used to compose complex expressions such as those used to describe resource constraints in a planning problem. From a finite, well-defined vocabulary one can compose a large number of coherent sentences. That is one reason why vocabulary, rather than form, is the focus of specifications of ontological commitments.”

I think what we may need is a totally new and novel way to understand knowledge (the tacit knowledge) in particular when we are immersed in the networks using PLE/N.
From the research we (Jenny, Roy and I) have conducted, we found that people do have a preference in learning style, and it could be quite complicated. The learning style pattern for the CCK08 in order of preference is: 1. reflector, 2. pragmatist, 3. theorist, & 4. activist. The implication is that people may be employing various combination of the preferred style of learning under different circumstances, with different strategies. As learners go through their learning journey, some may prefer to try the tools first, before coming to understanding the underpinning theory behind, whilst others may prefer to study the principles behind those use of tools, before trying them.
So, there is no one golden rule for doing the PLE/N, as it is all based on personal preference, and situation.
This also lead me to ask: if we wish to learn the advanced theories relating to education and learning, could we do so with open, online learning? My question was based on that we have all assumed that people have gone through the various stages of learning, and that they have good mastery of the instrumental learning (use of tools) and communicative learning (how to communicate effectively using those tools), and thus could move on to ontological learning. But is this assumption right?
So the challenge could be: For academic discourse, to what extent would people be able to engage at a “deep learning” level with the use of blogs and forums? Also, what motivates people to engage at such levels? What are the conditions upon which such discourse would happen? What levels of critical reflection will occur in blog/forum?

In a post by Elmine Wijnia (Communigations) (http://elmine.wijnia.com/weblog/archives/001298.html) she posted: Weblog serves as a communication hub
“I’ve been thinking about whether weblogs can be a medium for discourse. .. Habermas makes a distinction within communicative action, between conversation and discourse. I figured that no single medium can offer a platform for discourse, so weblogs as a sole medium can’t be seen as discourse. Rather, weblogs are a very good starting point for discourse. The weblog can serve as a filter for getting to know people who are interested in the same things. Through weblogs one can have conversations with ‘self’ and (preferably) others. These conversations can transcend into discourse when people start using multiple communication tools simultaneously (VoIP, chat, forum, e-mail, wiki, webcam etc.) ” “Combining different media is the strength and the weblog serves as a communication hub”
To me, that sounds like the communicative and instrumental learning based on the PLE/N, and if there are further ontological learning happening, based on the connectivist approach, then that would be the connectivist approach towards learning and knowledge in action.
Also, the reason why it is so difficult to fully understand connectivism might be based on the fact it addresses the three levels in an integrative manner – neuro (neuroscience approach), conceptual (cognitive approach) and social and external (social learning approach with complexity theory and various social learning theories integrated). This is similar to viewing 3 D pictures where the images of 3D are all overlapping, and you need to put on 3D glasses (technology, agents, TV, tools) in order to view them properly. Besides, you need to interpret the 3D movies based on the emergent properties, as each 3D patterns may be different when shown, due to the complexity nature of the environment and 3D glasses one puts on.
For your question “What is the difference between a truism and a maxim?”
I will try to address that in another comment.


#PLENK2010 Institutional Learning versus Personal Learning

Here is an interesting post by Rita contrasting institutional learning from personal learning environment

Rita says:

“My research highlighted the importance of communication in learning to create a high level of social ‘presence’.  An LMS/VLE is problematic in facilitating this.”

I do see this pattern recurring in MOOC since CCK08, 09, EdFuture, CritLit2010 and here PLENK2010. How did this occur? Wasn’t it inherent in the design of a MOOC? Why LMS/VLE may not be ideal in supporting some learners in MOOC?  I think we (Jenny, Roy and I) have attempted to research through our Blogs and Forum as Communication and Learning Tools, and some common themes emerged that did reveal many of the issues and challenges you mentioned.

May I summarise as follow?

(1) Teaching (LMS/VLE Moodle) versus learning (Blogs, Twitter, FB).

(2) Participation via active participation (LMS/VLE Moodle) & Blogging versus lurking through reading, listening etc.

(3) Self-directed learners (lots of bloggers) versus social learners (may be forum posters, FB, Twitterers).

(4) Power relations (instructors, peer learners).

(5) Confidence and affective issues.

(6) Levels of knowledge displayed.  To this end, we have found some significant differences in views and perceptions between instructors and participants in forums versus blogs.

(7) Feedback from others (instructors, in particular, and knowledgeable others, including other guest speakers, more experienced teachers and learners).

(8) Level of presence of instructors and participants in LMS/VLE Moodle.  This could be contrasted with the presence of instructors and participants in blogs, Twitter, FB, SL, Amplify, and collectives (Delicious, Google doc, wikis etc.).

(9) Large numbers of participants – I could see many participants would like to try the Moodle forum, posting their views, questions, and concerns.  There are however, a number of participants who raised the question of how their voices would be heard, if they were to do it in their own blogs.  Would the bloggers be speaking to themselves? Would forum be a better central stage or shelter for new comers? How to use some of the tools like CMAP? What are the differences between CMap and MindMaps etc.? So the more participants there are in the Forum, the more challenges there are for participants to filter their “ideas” and information, as many people may not know who are talking to whom. Also, the diverse advice and opinions could also be coming from instructors, knowledgeable others or many who are still trying to find their ways.  So, whose opinions should one trust? What is the truth? Which group should one join?

(10) Dispersed learner groups, which could lead to “disaggregation” of networks, and the development of conflicts within and amongst groups and within group members, when each one wishes to have his voice heard, acted upon and responded in reciprocity, and the differences in views and perceptions which may give rise to arguments.  Here conflict resolution is not easily achieved due to the lack of consensus.

(11) The language issue and misunderstanding arising from the syntax, semantics in posts and the cultural values, as revealed in the exchanges.

(12) The pedagogy that is inherent in VLE and PLE in MOOC – PLENK2010. What sort of teaching pedagogy or learning that underpins each approach – VLE/PLE? When should each be used?

Wonderful to learn from and share Rita’s insights.