Thursday, 17 September 2009

Connectivism Course - First thoughts

I signed up for the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge open course and it started this week. I used to read Stephen Downes daily so I know and respect his work and I try to read both George Seimens' and Downes' blog when I get a chance. I've been looking forward to it for a while but there is a slight air of tredipation as I worry about disciplining myself to commit the time to it. For example, I hoped to be writing this first blog entry on Tuesday and it's Thursday already! My biggest attraction to participating is the way the course is delivered, the lack of structure, the openness, the use of networks and, well, connectivism. Not that I know exactly what that is at the moment.

Anyway, the purpose of this post to give my first thoughts on reading, watching and listening to the initial set of resources posted on Monday. Even though I've heard of connectivism and pretty much know nothing about it so I am starting from scratch with this.

I probably made the mistake of reading the What Connectivism Is blog post by Downes first. This was the hardest to understand, but things became clearer once I'd watched all the videos and read the Wellman paper. As I expected, I found it difficult to grasp the finer points of the pedagogy and this will probably take a few weeks. So here is what I think I've learnt about connectivism.

Esesentially, learning is all about networks. Knowledge is distributed across the networks and learning is about traversing them, tapping into them and creating them. Technology has a role because it makes the process easier and much more accessible. Thinking about the networks possible over the www makes connectivism easier to conceptualise.

Knowledge is not an entity in itself "it's literally set of connections formed by action and experience." I've quoted Downes here because I don't really get this. I'll try and expand staying close to his words - knowledge is an inability to see something another way. Once seen, it can't be unseen. Stephen also says that two people seeing the same thing don't form the knowledge. I think this means that it's different based on the connection each person is making or the network of knowledge they have traversed to get to this point is always going to be different.

I started off seeing connectivism as a underlying network of all knowledge that was always there and it's just a question of finding it. But following what Seimens says - not everything is known. Connectivism is about making associations or the ability, the skill to make associations. "Learning is a process of growth and development." I'm quoting again to hold onto what is me and not me.

Downes ends his video with 2 objectives:

1. how networks are grown or network, processes you go through
2. Successful networks – what networks work and are reliable.

I look forward to finding out more on these.

That's enough for now.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom - we're tackling this topic in our discussion today - hopefully you can stop in there. I sympathize with the frustrations of defining connectivism...and the challenge is somewhat amplified in that Stephen and I come at if from a different place (AI/Philosophy for Stephen, learning theory psychology and social networks for me). However, at the core, we're both saying the same thing: connections are primary. All else flows from there...