My position on Connectivism

Three quotes have inspired me in my life:

–      “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help discover it within themselves” Galileo Galilei 

–      “Instruction ends in the classroom, but education ends only with life” F.W. Robertson

–      “I’m always ready to learn although I don’t always like to be taught” Winston Churchill

They support the facilitative and mentoring role of teachers, while the learner leads the discovery process. Learning happens in the brain, not in a school. We never stop learning.

I see connectivism as a personal learning theory that puts learners in the centre of their Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and gives them the magic wand of autonomous learning.

I completely agree with what George Siemens said about the speed of change and how we need to learn to quickly unlearn (Ally 2008). Additionally, Redding (2003) discusses an interesting graph that compares how much of the total amount of knowledge a man knew 10 000 years ago and how much a man knows now. We cannot keep up with today’s developments if we just depend on schools. We must learn and unlearn at a much faster rate. What is true today may no longer be true tomorrow, Siemens says.

In connectivism, Stephen Downes says, “There is a definite shift in approach from ‘we will accommodate your needs’ to ‘you create your learning environment yourself,’ which I think is a brilliant approach. He further states on the CCK11 MOOC site “A connectivist approach entails that individuals manage their own learning. There are many reasons for this, but one is that it is neither reasonable nor feasible to design for the needs of every single individual.” I believe this is the best need-accommodating approach. The only problem is how much learners really know about their needs. As educators we should develop tools and ways for learners to find out their needs. Then we could help learners develop PLEs and NOT give everything to them on a plate.

I encourage learners to think outside the box, to find real-world ways of practicing English and not depend on their facilitator.  This is challenging for two reasons:

–      not every adult learner is ready to be self-directed when they start (Four Stages of Self-Directedness – Grow in Mackeracher 2004, p 48)

–      the cultural backgrounds of learners who view teachers as authority (http://www.geert-hofstede.com/)

However, I will not give up. Our program has minimal structure and no time limits. Just like this MOOC, we provide learning resources, and learners find creative ways to practise/apply new skills in their daily lives. Our program is what learners make of it for themselves. We created a learning space and facilitate their language explorations. It is a different way of learning; therefore connectivism has a valid claim to be recognized as a new theory.

Connectivism resonates with my own learning experiences. Since I was 7, I was encouraged to find answers before I asked questions. Nobody talked about PLEs then, but I recall having one on my journey to master English. I like to grow my knowledge and believe that every piece of information holds an important place in my knowledge base, even if it is indirectly related to my needs. I link and nurture the connections I form. I like drawing information from various sources, hence my fascination with MOOCs. I agree that knowledge is distributed and learning is a process of making sense of what is in my PLE.

The greatest strength of the CCK11 course is its distributed nature that pushes the stretching of the mind and its frames. Another strength is that it defies credentialism. This course can be taken by anyone who wishes to learn. I hope that in the future, people will be rewarded for PLEs more than for the certificates they hold.

The theoretical discussion in the course is slightly overwhelming for me at this stage but I enjoy lurking on it. I do have any outstanding questions at this point.

References

Ally, M. (2008). The Theory and Practice of Online Learning.

In Anderson, T. (Ed.), Towards a Theory of Online Learning (15-44). Edmonton: AU Press, Athabasca University.

Downes, S. (2011). Retrieved from

http://cck11.mooc.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=54793#54999

Geer Hofstede TM Cultural Dimensions. (n.d). Retrieved from

http://www.geert-hofstede.com/ 

Mackeracher, D. (2004). Making sense of adult learning. Toronto:

University of Toronto Press.

Redding, T.R. (2003). Preparing Your Learners for My e-Learning.

In Piskurich, G. (Ed.), Preparing Learners for e-Learning (155-168). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Siemens, G. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/

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