Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wrapping My Head Around Connectivism


In my quest to better understand connectivism (a fairly new learning theory championed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes), In fact Siemens is said to be the originator of that theory; I have spent hours reading, listening, researching, assimilating----all in an effort to wrap my head around the idea. I have watched videos, read blogs, listened to audio and wait, wait, I do think I am making some progress. So, next step...Putting my thoughts on paper (which I believe) will force me to illustrate my 'oh so slight understanding' of this newly coined term/idea? 

The more I immerse myself in this space the better I should get at it (understand it), right?

Connectivism is described as a "theory of personal learning."  It appears to be the clarion call of the digital age. In a more expansive way, experiencing that 'learning' should happen across different networks.  Learning as a concept exists within community and how you engage that community while utilizing 'the new' tools that exist to facilitate open learning, is a indicator of how well the process is working.  How we treat our experience across different web platforms and employ new media tools is also a good gauge for how well we are connecting. Well, maybe. Using the digital world to organize your life, populate your personal learning space and coordinate scattered remants of information, gets it done, right?....aaah so simple. But wait; not so fast. 

Simply having the tools doesn't automatically put you in 'wonk' sphere. Without knowledge of how to use them you are indeed lost in the digital space.  You have to aggregate, curate,  be better streamlined to become a more efficient user. 

'Connectivism' is an educational exercise and in this bold new thrust many will be left behind. It is important that you also approach it with an open mind; be open to the idea of 'connecting'. 

In an article Downes published (Huffington Post 2011), terms like aggregation, remixing, repurposing, feeding forward, were used to illustrate how connectivism works; a formula of sort on how to treat information, learn in that environment, to connect, use the information, make it your own and how to disseminate and share.  

His Slideshare presentation gives a wonderful overview of the concept, especially for those new to the idea. At first blush it seems daunting. It takes some doing. 

You have to be aware and proficient in the use of the digital components needed for it to be truly real and even more importantly effective. He explains the use of the following tools  (and the like): Flikr to store (and share) photos, to store (and share) videos,, a place to write and edit essays;, a way to stay in touch and up to date with current events as they happen;, a way to save on phone calls;, to know where he is staying before he gets there; and so on.

For individuals like myself who are probably introverts and not so quick to embrace the 'openness' this requires, it is a big step.  I recently started tweeting and am working at getting more proficient and comfortable in that space. A tumblr account isn't yet 'tumbling' and scoop it is waiting on my curating skills. But I am blogging [here] and hope for consistency. 

A friend at a major radio station is going through that metamorphosis of sorts. Seems the station has decided that all announcers (in fact all staff) should get connected; everywhere! Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, etc; and he is [terrifyingly] embracing it because to survive, he has to. We have been laughing [sort of] at the new world demands. So I will get a call saying "did you see my posts on Facebook? Did you see my Tweet?" "I am doing my homework." And on he goes with his handbook of all the 'social/digital' places he needs to be. 

One can quickly get overwhelmed. But overtime it becomes apparent that you can ease slowly into the different modalities. With consistency and fixed determination becoming a 'connectivist' might become a song!

The world Downes points out is filled with free learning resources. [For me] the message? Find what works for you and make it work. There is no one path but it is critical that you figure out how to traverse across these various arteries of learning, Create your own, modify what exists and adapt them to your learning environment. So I guess the word is get 'connected'. What say you? 


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