Saturday, September 27, 2008
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At 28.20 Stephen Downes distinguishes between "collaborate" and "cooperate" in that the former shares more group properties while the latter shares more network properties (see video). The outer ends of the group/network continuum, I believe, are extreme occurrences that don´t necessarily lend themselves well to most school environments that utilize a curriculum as a means for establishing intended desired results. On the one hand, groups include a closed learning environment that contain hierarchies (i.e., teacher-student, student-student, etc.) and tend to hamper the way information is presented presumably in order to assure that "good" content is being provided. On the other hand, networks originate completely from a personal choice (Dron and Anderson) which is also not practical in today´s school systems. Perhaps the "answer" is somewhere in between.
Establishing classrooms as a learning community means recognizing that individual and group goals are taken into consideration. The taught curriculum includes input and individual choice on the part of the learner so that personal learning networks may be designed, implemented, and reflected upon. The educator takes on multiple roles (e.g., didactic instructor, facilitate, and coach) depending on the circumstances, and assists the learner as the process of achieving individual and group goals unfolds. Yes, at times, a didactic role is required because some students respond to this type of instruction given certain circumstances. It´s not about constantly "feeding" information to the learner or expecting that the learner automatically consider the information valuable, but more about being one of many informants that learners may choose from in order to create their own understanding or networked knowledge. An important role of the educator is to assist the learner in determining what information is valuable (or not) within the context of a particular learning situation.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I enjoyed reading Dave Cormier's article on Rhizomatic Education. The rhizome metaphor emphasizes the importance of diversifying instruction and assessment. Curricular aims for language learning are typically based on certain behavioral patterns that provide reliable and valid evidence that the learner has achieved a desired level of communicative proficiency. A rhizomatic education frames these common sets of curricular aims in terms of establishing individual learning progressions with distinct starting and ending points. In my opinion, relying on traditional tests and quizzes and discrete activities alone will fail to develop the individual learner due to the assumption that an entire group of learners are starting from a single starting point and will end up (or should end up) at one common ending point.
In contrast, establishing foreign language exchanges, for example, provide the means for developing individual learning progressions that promote individual interests, needs, and learning styles while at the same time respecting curricular aims. Although preparation for the language exchange performance task can include teachers taking a didactic and facilitating role, the bulk of the actual performance task requires an active learner and a teacher as a coach. During the language exchange common themes assist the language learner to focus on a certain lexicon while conversations take different directions based on the knowledge and experience of the interlocutors.
The final discussion this week ended with George and Stephen providing an example of connectivism in a practical sense. George provided an example very similar to a language exchange as discussed in this blog while Stephen, after writing off a connective-classroom environment as somewhat “artificial”, stated the importance of getting students out of the classroom and doing something for the betterment of society. While I agree that the latter might be a preferred way of learning, I don’t see anything artificial about learning another culture through a connective-classroom. Getting to know people from different cultures creates a level of respect for others that also contributes to the common good.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
As I'm getting a little more familiar with connectivism this week (and wishing the word would be added all to the spell-checkers out there), some of the terminology used in explaining how we learn in today's world is resonating with me. The internal, external, and conceptual networks that we build through experiences emphasizes the point where teaching is more about demonstrating and modeling, and learning is more about practicing and reflecting.
Within a language learning context, I would add there are more viable networks that need to be created as well. The building of contextual, strategic, and phonetic networks also develops language proficiency through the creation of educative experiences. I hesitate to say simply the creation of experiences, referring back to Dewey's distinction between educative and non-educative experiences, because certain practices are better than others. This is where connectivism gets a little vague.
"The pipe is more important than the content" is a phrase coined by Siemens in referring to connectivism and this gives me the impression that any content creates connections. Or perhaps the more "pipes" the better, regardless of the content that "flows through it". Or is it that fewer “pipes” but with better content is preferred over many “pipes” of poorer content? For me, putting into practice this concept still puzzles me. I agree we should try to create as many connections as possible within the confines of the curriculum, but it's still up to the teacher to interpret this (or rationalize it) to their liking.
As always, I welcome all opinions.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
In the coming weeks, I'll be discussing issues regarding connectivism and its place within the language learning environment (as well as within education in general). Although there continues to be a lot of discussion about whether to consider it a learning theory or not, I'm more interested in learning how the main aspects of it (whatever one decides to call it - social networking, connectivism, etc.) fit into teaching and learning.
Here's a short video with George Siemens, considered a co-founder of connectivism along with Stephen Downes, made three weeks ago.
Here's a video he posted to YouTube last year.