Aboluay's (Anas) Musings

Capturing Thoughts Before They Perish

Aboluay's (Anas) Musings - Capturing Thoughts Before They Perish

[[CCK11]]:About CCK and MOOC

Is it a new theory of learning? Or is the concept of theory distracting?

Connectivism is a theory framework. It relates to learning. But it is not a “theory of learning” in the traditional academic definition. It is more than that.

“Learning Theories”, in its psychological context, tends to address the learning that happens in biological entities. In its “machine learning” context, it is the study of algorithms1. Connectivism addresses the knowledge that exists at a universal level which includes all existing matters and not limited to human learning alone. It could be classified as a “Theory of Knowledge” and its application in “human learning” is a small subset.
In my opinion, the way connectivism is presented in the Siemen’s-Downes model is confusing, for the following reasons:

(1) It tries to encompass three concepts in one:

a- Defining learning as a function of networks;
b- Learning and knowledge building happens with machines as well; and
c- Connectivism is a suitable educational paradigm for the knowledge age.

Each of these concepts has a merit on its own. The first two could be easily demonstrated in empirical scholarship. It fails miserably in the third one. Connectivism cannot be applied in a traditional scholarship environment (see the “weakness section” for details). Connectivism creates a new learning paradigm, not a new educational paradigm, that contradicts many of the basics of educational system. It is a quantum leap, not an evolution of education, for the creation of universal knowledge. It is a “Noo Theory”, theory of global awareness!
What are the weaknesses of connectivism as formulated in this course? What are the strengths?

Note: I interpreted the question to mean the weaknesses/strengths of MOOC as a representation of Connectivism and not as a critique of connectivism itself. I hope I am not wrong!

The weaknesses:

MOOC as a massive course has its merits. But it is extremely weak as a credited course because, as mentioned above, connectivism does not work in a traditional educational setting. For example:

  1. This assignment is designed to meet scholarship grading requirements. However, its assessment rubric does not match the objectives of the course (it does not assess if I have built a strong network of knowledge). I think connectivism deserves a new assessment model that measures the strength of links created due to participation in the course.
  2. The format of the assignment defies connectivism itself where I am supposed to refer to academic references while my knowledge was built through connection to “lay-individuals” through the Internet.
  3. The expectation is that my answers are supposed to be at a “Master’s Level” while the course is at a certificate level.

Clearly the credited part of MOOC has been designed hastily and needs thoughtful redesign. It is worth mentioning at this stage is that I am learning a tremendous deal from the non-credited MOOC activity but minimally through the MOOC credited model.

The Strengths:
The MOOC, as a non-academic model, is a powerful concept:

  1. It allows the participants to learn based on their learning preference.
  2. Since it is not graded, it allows participants to determine what they want to learn then indulge in the learning process through connecting to other individuals.
  3. It offers a safe environment to allow participants to experience connectivism in a non-threatening environment; consequently, they can develop themselves to “survive” the connective age.
  4. The course encourages “continuous learning” where knowledge is expected to be continuously created and recreated.
  5. It offers an excellent environment to get immersed in the new overload of information we experience and train us on developing our own selection process.

Does connectivism resonate with your learning experiences? If so, how?

Yes, it definitely resonates with my learning experience. For the last 10 years, I lived in the “knowledge-on-demand” domain where I learn about something just when I need the information and limit my learning to just what is required rather than mastering the whole related body of knowledge. Connectivism puts words to this learning approach. At the same time, I am immersed with gadgets around me that facilitate my knowledge-on-demand concept. Connectivism is helping me to go further and accept that “knowledge resides in machines” as well, which means they are add-on to my knowledge. Finally, connectivism gives me many tools to understand the theories and ideas of De Chardin that fascinates me.

What are your outstanding questions?

  1. Why connectivism is a learning theory and not a knowledge theory.
  2. Why is it essential that connectivism conform under the traditional educational system and not consider it as a new learning/knowledge paradigm that does not fall under the scholarship umbrella?
  3. What are the set of knowledge, skills and value sets that need to be developed by a person to become a connected person?

References

  • Aitken, R. (2007). Surviving the New Learning Landscape: A Guide for E-Learners, p15, Lulu Publishing.
  • Lee, M., Gaffney, M. (2008). Leading a digital school: principles and practice, New Learning Though Technology -Connectivism, pp 57 – 200.
  • Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Last accessed: 10 Feb 2011.
  • van Pløn, V. (2006). eConnectivism: a new learning theory?, University of Twente.
  • Wikipedia:
  • Interactions with my PLE:
Note: For further references and sources to the above arguments, please refer to my blog posts and my CCK11 networks. Connectivism should not be limited to APA format. Right?

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[[CCK11]]: I am not a connectivist!

In a post on our CCK11 group I wrote:

I am confident, so far, that I am not a real connectivist… the real connectivists are now changing governments (like in Egypt and Tunisia), they are changing the meaning of diplomacy, dignity and conspiracy (like in Wikileaks), they are creating knowledge (like Wikipedia), writing phenomenal apps (Open Source) and so on… they live connectivism naturally. They do not need MOOC to become connectivists.

They developed skills that our generation strives on eradicating… for example: they utilize their idle time, they change their values when needed, they are not afraid about their identity, they are not afraid if someone else use their information, they do not believe retaining information themselves is essential, they can work with massive knowledge add-ons (like knowledge on machines), they do NOT plan for the deep future, they do not have worries (although we push them to develop theirs), they believe EVERYTHING can supply knowledge (whether friend or enemy, genius or ignorant, machine or ??), they are not worried if the information is correct or not, their friends and community is on constant change, their friend-set changes based on the issue they are addressing… They do not worry about respect or trust … and few other skills that I do not own… yet!

Who among us have these skills? not me so far!

Don’t get me wrong: I am connected, I have a huge PLN that helps me with my day to day learning and decision making, I believe that knowledge resides in machines and I make a good use of these tools. But all of these are “simulated connectivism”. They are not natural traits. When I compare my connectivism with my son, I still find huge gaps between how my brain is connected and how his brain is connected. Adopting the famous phrase: I am an emigrant to the connectivim and not a naturalized connectvist!