Sunday, October 25, 2009

CCK09: Connectivism and Culture

Connectivism offers the language learning community perhaps a new way of looking at what is learning, knowledge, and language acquisition. Let's take the notion of Intercultural Community Competency (ICC). A connectivist view on learning culture would approach it from both an epistemological (What is knowledge?) and ontological (Who am I?) perspective, among others. That is, the learning of culture would be the same as language learners making connections (i.e., at the biological, cognitive, and social level) as to the importance and relevance of culture and language within a given educational setting. This requires the language educator to facilitate the connective process through providing models and demonstrations (Downes) in order for language learners to "practice and reflect" to use Downes's words. In language learning, modeling and demonstrating does not (and should not in my view) come solely from the teacher. Technology now affords us a variety of ways at looking beyond the classroom in incorporating models and demonstrations that don't necessarily exclude didactic interventions as long as these interventions don't become the main source of "teaching" and "learning".

So, ICC as an emergent phenomenon is viewed as outcomes that cannot be reduced down to their individual parts. Language educators facilitate learners to make their own connections with regard to culture, utilizing technology and their social skills to foster this pursuit. This connectivist approach is quite different than the teacher providing most of the cultural information (mainly through didactic instruction) to the learner which is certainly to be biased in one form or the other. Stated another way, the learner recognizes cultural similarities and differences through a process of discovery that is provoked and supported by one or many language educators, peers, and/or subordinate learners.