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The topic

In this topic ‘Learning in communities – networked collaborative
learning’, our PBL group were interested in the term ‘connectivism’.

I particularly enjoyed reading the original article on this by George Siemens from 2005. There were so many aspects included in the founding of this –ism that I found fascinating. First, he comments on the current (nb 2005) status and trends in learning and discusses that we (learners) over a lifetime move into many different areas and that learning is a continual, lifetime activity. Informal learning has become so much more common (and accepted) and formal learning is no longer the major component. Many new and many different approaches to learning have become evident (eg. communities, networks) and learning and work related activities are more often the same. Technology has entered and makes our needs in learning different; know-how and know-what is now accompanied by know-where (to find knowledge). Also, the information/knowledge amount is growing exponentially….

Siemens discusses the limitations of available learning theories (behaviorism,
cognitivism, and constructivism), and from that suggests the alternative theory
‘connectivism’, which by including technology
and connection making as learning activities moves learning theories
into a digital age. The new reality is chaos, and for us learners the challenge
is to recognize patterns, which seem concealed. Meaning-making (how we
interpret and understand the knowledge around us) and forming connections
between specialized communities are then very important activities.

I could go on and write more about this article, but I
stop here and recommend highly that you read it and end by the Principles
of connectivism, which is a direct quote from G Siemens 2005:

“Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions. Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known. Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning. Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill. Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities. Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.”

My own personal learning networks

They are really, really too few! At least those in the digital
world.

I am part of some networks on Twitter. In addition, some
communities, but these actually started long time ago and are ebbing out, and
has mainly been in email conversations, but still, that are searchable afterwards.
I think my largest value of these networks/communities are that I learn so much
more about my own research area that I would not have been able to find
otherwise (well maybe, but with much more effort). I also get to know about
people and whom I would reach out to with respect to certain questions.

Also, in my private life I have communities where experiences and knowledge is shared and I learn quite a lot from discussions in closed Facebook groups for example. I realize that now when I think about it 🙂

A real collaborative learning experience

I think I have experienced this when it comes to singing in a
choir. In this example there is no element of digital environment involved –
but it could have been and then maybe even improved the learning process. In
our choir, we engage a voice coach every now and then. Commonly we work (learn)
together as a group (a community). Singing is a lot of technique and theory.
You need tools, “pictures”, models of how your various muscles and organs in
the body should work to give the best sound coming out from your body. By
discussing the “pictures” etc about how e.g. the air should flow and how you
can feel the resonance amongst members in the group indeed makes my knowledge
to increase so much more easy. You need to hear the same thing in many
different ways to earn the knowledge. Also, testing right and wrong approaches
and you can hear the differences is very powerful. I think learning these
things in a group collaborating is not only fun and stimulating, but makes the
learning process more efficient. And you hear the result directly!

The end

“We derive our competence from forming connections.” and here an illustration where different parts (alto, tenor etc) are connecting: Peace I leave to you.

Reference: Siemens, G. (2005) Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10

Topic 3 (ONL192): Learning in communities – networked collaborative learning