For few weeks now, I have been immersed in the connective learning. Although my connections and nodes are not strong, and they are unidirectional (from me out, and I rarely get feedback), I have to admit that I am learning. So, I am convinced it has a merit.
One thing I have noticed is that “I” need to change to survive this new learning paradigm. After considerable reflections, though I was hoping connections :(, I found few things I had to “rewire” in the infrastructure of my brain. I will use the computer as an analogy (so, I apologize to those who are not familiar with the terms that I will use):
1) Storage Vs Connectivity: I need to move from relying on “large hard disk storage” to a system that has “a super smart network switch”. The core “technology” my brain need to invest in is high connectivity and not storage. Education and my upbringing forced me to rely on investing in “huge long term storage” systems and they did not train me or prepare me to handle large influx of information. To the contrary, I was trained to reject influxes because it means distraction, and to accept focusing on one thing at a time as a virtue!
2) Memory: Does this mean that I need to get rid of all memory to be effective in the connective world? No. I just need to move from a “hard disk” system that keeps all information stored to a new storage system that allow us to get information when needed, store what need to be stored and purge the obsolete information. Sticking to the computer analogy: we need to replace the hard disk storage with a ROM (to store the basic skills, knowledge and habits we need to function, like communication, logic) and a fast RAM that is used to manipulate the information we need and get rid of them when they become obsolete. In none computer terms: I need to practice to prevent my previous knowledge, habits, values and habits to influence the new knowledge. I should be ready to accept new knowledge without allowing my previous knowledge to distort it.
3) Scripts: For the Switch-RAM-ROM to work together, I need to put right scripts in place that allows the right information to be processed and converted to knowledge. In a non-computer terms this means I need to develop the right habits, attitudes and value sets that facilitate the process. In addition, I need to rely on technology to filter the information and ensure I get the maximum information I need in the smallest junks possible. This needs more in-depth thinking and analysis.
Then it hit me. The disparity between formal education and connectivism is: Education promotes “increasing the capacities and contents of the long term storage” while connectivism advocates “increasing the power of the network switches, put the basic knowledge in ROM’s and replacing the hard disks with volatile RAM”!
Now I understand why education will resist the connectivism. Now I understand why some critics argue that connectivism is a twisted mirror for older learning theories. Now I understand why many individuals are not comfortable with the experience: they still use hubs which cannot handle the huge information influx and they feel connectivism does fill their hard disk is still empty…
Even more, I recognized that my education did not prepare me for this new way of management of knowledge. Since I work in international education, I am confident that education, anywhere (except in a small committee in Europe), is designed for “hub/hard disk” individuals and not for the “Switch/RAM” individuals. But, hey, does the Switch/RAM person need schools to learn? This will be another post.