EC&I831, Learning Community

At The Root of Connectivism

Connectivism is a pedagogy that I have latched onto for the realm of learning technologies. This is a new learning theory for the digital age, and is further defined by George Siemens as:

  • Knowledge as constellation of connections
  • Sense-making/way-finding
  • Network (social/technological) as assistive cognitive agent
  • Technology as externalization/extension

It’s not the tools that are relevant, but rather the connections made while learning.

Siemens made a guest appearance in the EC&I 831 course last week to discuss The Roots of Connectivism.

A few of the major points that I took away from George’s presentation include:

  • Learning is networked at 3 levels:
    • Conceptual-Cognitive: least developed; when ideas & concepts are combined together
    • Neural: biological; memories being formed as a sequence of connections (encoding in the brain)
    • Social-external: social network analysis, often completed by sociologist; external tools and resources to connect learning
  • Knowledge & learning as networked and emergent through:
    • Synchronicity – to understand how a student will learn is to understand & connect with their current knowledge & awareness
    • Amplification – participatory sense making & interaction with material creates learning at a deeper level
    • Resonance – why do students start to tune into learning a concept or new information? how do they connect with an association?
  • Educators need to understand connections at a very basic level to best learn how to influence connections for learning
    • What connections are?
    • How they form?
    • What attributes/structure they exhibit at formation?
    • What various formations mean?
George left the class with a few questions to ponder:
  • What are the implications for educators?
  • How do we “teach differently” in networks than we do in a classroom?
  • How should our priorities change in skill development?
  • As the field of networked learning grows, where do we turn for guidance direction?

Educators need to assess learning objectives to help students develop in the changing digital world. Instruction is not just about knowledge comprehension, but will shift to focus on acquisition of information and learner networks. “Teaching differently” will be instructional practice that encourages learners to think critically and engage in complex activities for deeper learning experiences. Learners will be challenged to connect meaning and knowledge that is currently known, to that of their shifting paradigm.

As networked learning continues to change educational environments, educators must empower their students to adapt and grow with the technologies . It will be up to the educators of today to remain current and connected to practitioners and  innovators in education who are leading the way. Whether it is following a stream of ideas on Twitter, reading the latest literature/publications, continuing professional development, taking an open-source course, or sharing ideas with online colleagues, educators who stay socially connected will provide engaged learning opportunities.

My quest to be a “Network Sherpa” for learners continues….

What are you doing to help your Networked Student connect to their learning today?

Connectivism video created by Wendy Drexler’s high school students inspired from George Siemens’ CCK08 Class.

EC&I831, Learning Community, Social Media

What Are Your “Top Sites”?

Learning is social. Learning is connected. Learning is often informal.

The speaker this week in EC&I 831, Dr. Richard Schwier, discussed learning environments and encouraged us to reflect how we learn. He shared, with the class, how he consumes online content, and reflected that most of his online activity was social. In reviewing my own “Top Sites” in Safari I discovered that I too like to be social and connected online:

Top Sites

Here’s my quick list:

There is a lot of learning in my online life, and I definitely rely on my social connections and tools for support. While organization and structure help construct “formal” education, there is great value in spontaneous, chaos for informal learning. The key for learning is to engage and connect your students in the educational process.

A quote that resonated with me both as a learner and educator:

“We as educators need to reconsider our roles in students’ lives, to think of ourselves as connectors first and content experts second.” William Richardson

Learning Technologies, Open Education

TEC VARIETY

Online learning requires motivation and engagement for success. Learners need to feel connected and empowered to support their involvement for online education. Curt Bonk explores motivation and retention in various e-learning environments. His latest publication, The World is Open, explores how technology is revolutionizing technology itself.

bonk bobble

Here are a couple of other worthy finds from Curt that may be useful for your next your virtual learning environment planning:

  1. Empowering Online Learning
  2. Tech-Variety – guide for motivation and retention online
  • Tone – how do learners describe themselves? set expectations & set goals?
  • Encouragement – provide means to give feedback to learners
  • Curiosity – online field trips, activities, remote sites, local correspondence, etc

 

  • Variety – hands on, visual, reading integrated text, providing options
  • Autonomy – choice, empowerment over learning, options, scaffold learning skills
  • Relevance – meaningful activities that relate back to the content
  • Interactivity – problem solving, case studies, working with a group, discussion threads, blogs and more!
  • Engagement – drafts due for projects, check-ins, experience the process of learning
  • Tension – role-play, alternative perspectives, controversy, e.g. devils advocate for positions
  • Yielding products – post to the web, present a gallery of students’ best work, showcase, share with an audience beyond a teacher – experts, peers, etc.
Learning Technologies, Professional Development, Social Media

Keeping Up With Technology

With 2.5 online graduate courses, it’s easy to be consumed with everything digital this semester. In thinking about technology and how to best “keep up” with everything happening online, I stumbled upon a great video from Alan Levine (who will be leading a session in the EC&I 831 course), that reminds educational technology users to:

  1. Establish a network of colleagues & maintain these connections with online social tools, e.g. e-mails, RSS, blogs, Twitter, etc
  2. Tap into a sense of play & willingness to experiment.
  3. Don’t be afraid to continue to grow & learn new things.
EC&I831, Learning Community

Open, Connected & Social With EC&I 831

The next online, open education course I am involved with this semester is EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education from the University of Regina with Dr. Alec Couros that meets only every Tuesday evening (8-10pm CST). I first learned about this course through a few online networks in the ed tech arena, and I thought it may be an interesting lens to review curriculum and content development for learning. Here’s the 5 minute elevator pitch for the course:

The Tuesday evening elluminate session provided the basic introduction to the course schedule and outline. I am looking forward to connecting to other students to further explore the role of the educator/learner in terms of media literacy, knowledge and social networks.

It was great to hear the parallels between my personal philosophy of education, and how it ties into the learning objectives of this course.  Dr. Couros’ believes that there are great strengths in learning relationships and connectiveness amongst students, rather than just the specific content or knowledge.  It will be interesting to see how this sentiment is interpretted by the various weekly session speakers and participants throughout the course of the semester.

Although this course is similar to CCK09, I think that EC&I 831 will challenge me to:

  • get perspectives of social media education – history, ideas & development
  • expand my social learning theories & applications
  • experiment & play with NEW social learning & open educational tools/resources
  • provide a critical lens for curriculum development with social media & open education
  • build up my learning network – connect & enage with new online peers