Monday, September 29, 2008

CCK08 Week 3 - Keep on Blogging

Blogs & web pages I read...
Read Valdis Krebs blog "The Network Thinker"

Moodle Forums I read and posted to...
  • Is this class a good example of connectivism?
  • Concept Maps by Mike Bogle.  Romi Rancken provided some tips on using CMAP & a link to a PowerPoint presentation by Ian Kinchin about 3 different types of concept maps 1/ spoke, 2/ chain & 3/ nets (mesh).  Downloaded
  • BlogRovR - another Blog Aggregator with some neat features! by Steve Tuffill
Blogs & web pages I read...(via Google alerts)
Blogs & web pages I read...(via The Daily)

Resources & Links I'd like to investigate...

People I connected with...
  • Nellie Deutsch (Israel)- blog comment
  • Marina Petrovic (Montenegro) - Connecting Online NING friend request
  • Clesio DaGama (Brazil) - ipeace NING friend request 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

CCK08 Week 3 - Words, words, words

Week 3: Properties of Networks (September 22-28)

Word words words...

For the past couple of days I have spent my time reading some of the Moodle Forum posts and participant blogs. I now have hundreds (or more/) words floating around in my mind. I am so connected to the words, that I am even dreaming about them!

However, I note that most of the information I have read (which is very interesting) is not very focused on this weeks topic. My goal tomorrow is to read some articles which focus more on the properties of networks.

Moodle Forums I read or posted comments to...
I am a very visual person (& learner) and a wordle attracts my attention (as all images do) however I don't feel that it assists me to "learn".

Wordle created at from my blog post My small world
My thoughts about the Moodle Forum postings...
I find the posts to be a great place to get an overview of a number of different view points on a range of topics. They also lead me to some very interesting sites where I am discovering lots of new information, ideas and tools. However, I agree with Jayne Little's comment"Catherine, you are teaching many individuals the limits of their tolerance & how to do selective engagement in threads."
and I now skip most of Catherine's comments (and the replies from others). I would love to post my agreement to many of the posts that suggest that Catherine's "personal attacks" and "mud-slinging" are not critical discussion, but I am too "thin-skinned" and do not want to risk a personal attack in return.

Facebook posts I read....
Blogs/Webs I read or posted comments to....
Quote: "In closing, I guess I am asking all those people who are thinking of redeveloping curriculum using this approach to teaching and learning to consider the barriers that their students will face. Test your processes thoroughly with your target audience to ensure that the tech barrier is not too high. Also, you may want to hedge your bets and also present some or all of the curriculum using more traditional approaches to account for participants who have difficulty with the “social” aspect of social networking."

A possible topic for my Masters Project - Create an online course using a Connectivism approach and explore (research) some of the barriers Rosalyn has highlighted in her blog.
Quote: "I order to see where I have been active and to reflect on my sparse activity during the week, I collected all Moodle and blog posts as well as tweets connected to the the course and put them in the infamous Wordle."

A wordle of my week 2 posts

People I connected with...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CCK08 Week 3 - Connections with Adult Learning

Week 3: Properties of Networks (September 22-28)

Elluminate Session 2: Thurs 25/9  at 8am 
I finally managed to attend a live session. I found it quite difficult to listen to what was being said and read the text comments on the chat at the same time. I also found a side conversation about the Banking Crisis in the USA between Stephen & Catherine quite distracting. Maybe there should be a seperate session for "sparring" so the rest of us can focus on the main topics of discussion. I also found when people responded to previous comments, that I had to scroll back to the original question to try & make sense of their response. There was so much going on at once, I found it difficult to take it all in. Being overwhelmed with information I found that I became a lurker and did not contribute to the discussion - which is usually not like me!
People I connected with...
  • Neil, Carol, Kerry, Cathy, Richard, Mike, Allen, Stephen (F2F via TADA)
Blogs/web pages I read or posted comments to....
Smith, M. K. (1997, 2004) 'Eduard Lindeman and the Meaning of Adult Education', the encyclopaedia of informal education. (Sourced via F2F connection with a friend at a TADA event). He commented (with amazement) that much of what Lindeman expressed in 1926 was still true today.
From my initial reading, Connectivism appears to me to be an extension of Lindeman's view of adult education. However with globalisation and access to the Internet the "smaller collective units" can now be extended to include a much wider group with increased diversity.

Quote: "Adult education specifically aims to train individuals for a more fruitful participation in those smaller collective units which do so much to mold significant experience. "(Lindeman 1926a: 38)..."This means giving more attention to small groups; it means as much decentralization, diversity and local autonomy as is consistent with order. Indeed, we may well sacrifice order, if enforced externally, for valid difference. Our hopes flow from the simple conviction that diversity is more likely to make life interesting than is conformity, and from the further conviction that active participation in interesting affairs furnishes proper stimulations for intellectual growth." (Lindeman 1926a: 89)

Another parallel with Connectivism, he does not provide a tight definition of the theory.
Quote: "In his search for a fresh understanding of adult education and Lindeman avoided presenting us with a tight definition. He considered that it might be too constraining for enquiry – a position he held throughout the rest of his life.
However, we can get a glimpse of thinking in a paper also written in 1926 where he describes adult education as: A cooperative venture in non-authoritarian, informal learning, the chief purpose of which is to discover the meaning of experience; a quest of the mind which digs down to the roots of the preconceptions which formulate our conduct; a technique of learning for adults which makes education coterminous with life and hence elevates living itself to the level of adventurous experiment.
(Lindeman 1926b quoted by Stewart 1987: 12-13).

Resources I am interested in investigating...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CCK08 Week 3 - Learning Wiziq & more

Week 3: Properties of Networks (September 22-28)

I have not looked at all of the links below, but I have skimmed through them and will come back to them again when I have more to lay the first footings for our new retaining wall, so we can bring some order to the chaos of our garden.

OLDaily links that interested me...
Moodle Forums I read or posted comments to...
  • The Net Nanny Strikes. Enjoyed Ken's humour: "To your rooms! Or your blogs! And don't return until you can play nicely with your teammates!".
  • Skeptic by John Harman. I agree with his comment: "...your language seemed to get more vitriolic and spiteful". I think people can be critical without being spiteful.

Wiziq session I participated in....
People I connected with today...
  • Sarvinder Sandhu (wiziq session). Teacher - audio & text chat.
  • Kajal Sengupta (Wiziq session). Participant - text chat. Agree to be a "student" so we can play around with Wiziq and learn more about the features & practice facilitating online.
Resources I'm interested in investigating...

Monday, September 22, 2008

CCK08 Week 3 - My small world

Week 3: Properties of Networks (September 22-28)

Well this week I got off to a good start. I have looked at 2 of the 3 weekly presentations, read The Daily and a couple of participant blogs. There appears to be a lot less readings this I may even get to do all the things I want to do and maybe even catch up with some of last weeks readings, which I missed.

Weekly presentations

Learning Networks: Theory and Practice (.ppt and audio) by Stephen Downes.
Didn't take notes as everything is written on the slides. This presentation provided me with a more "concrete" image of what Connectivism is and highlighted the differences between "traditional" learning and "networked" learning. Stephen provided 8 Network Design Principles that elearning projects can be measured against and if the project 
applies to the principles then it is moving towards the direction of networked learning. He also sited a number of resources that I am not familiar I've added them to my resource list (below) and hopefully I'll find the time to investigate them to discover which ones I think may be useful in my learning environment.

Introduction to Networks by George Siemens
Short 3min intro. Briefly reviewed concepts covered in week 1 & 2 and talked about what would be covered in week 3.
Week 1: What is Connectivism - Knowledge is distributed & learning is the process of creating those networks increasing aided through use of technology.
Week 2: Rethinking epistemology: Connective knowledge - Looked at some of the principles of knowledge that we need to consider as educators.
Week 3: Properties of networks. What is a network? Definition: "an entity connected to another entity". Different networks exhibit different structures. People from many fields are actively researching networks (maths, physics, sociology, technology) and as a result of the overlapping of different fields we see different terminiology being used to describe networks.

Some key attributes seen across multiple types of networks are:
  • Small world: when people we connect with know other people we know. These short pads of connections are also referred to as 6 degrees of separation.
  • Hubs & Power Laws: Hubs are highly connected nodes in an overall network (eg: Google). Power Laws occur when certain people have a disproportionate amount of wealth (eg: Forum: 1 person writes 100 posts, whereas many others only write 1). Also referred to as the 80/20 rule. Hubs & power laws are well linked.
  • Scale free: networks that exhibit a power laws distribution.
  • Connectors (or influencers): Individuals that have many weak ties, able to distribute information fast to many people.
  • Weak ties: not people we are well connected with but weak connections we form.
Other attributes: Cascades, Dunbars Number, Centrality, Cohesion, Density of network connections - still to be explored throught the week. A primary consideration with connectivism - to better understand learning we need to better understand networks. The model of a network for education. 

3 types of networks: 1/ Neural, 2/ Conceptual 3/ External (Social).
  • Social: how we form connections with other people or information sources, most supported by existing research. A fairly solid base of research to draw on.
  • Conceptual: currently not as well researched. The combination of concepts tends to change their meaning (eg: stars & stripes). Research in this area not very solid at this point.
  • Neural: beginning to receive additional attention. Research is still emerging and difficult to provide absolute statements.
Conclusion: Networks are an underlying structure exhibited in all aspects of our learning.
  • Are our education systems designed to appropriate take advantage of network opportunities?
    No. Far too rigid.
  • Have we structured our curriculum in too linear a fashion?
    I think so...but in my experience as an adult educator (primarily short 1 to 10 day courses) a lot of people just want you to give them the "facts" or teach them the "skills" so they can get on with the job. They don't want to waste time searching for answers.
  • Have we conceived education as too strongly a one way flow from the academic who knows to students who don't?
    Yes, I think we have. When I first started training (teaching) I was terrified that my students would know more than me or that they would ask questions that I might not know the answer too. I am VERY pleased to say, I got over that very quickly and realised I am not (and don't have to be) an "expert". I am happy to learn from my students (or any other source).
The Daily links that caught my interest...
Photo: My small world and the chaos of my garden reflected back at me!

Blogs or Wikis I read or posted comments to....
Notes: What is ANT? Actor-Network Theory: a contemporary sociological theory. "Broadly speaking, ANT is a constructivist approach in that it avoids essentialist explanations of events or innovations (e.g. explaining a successful theory by saying it is 'true' and the others are 'false'). However, it is distinguished from many other STS and sociological network theory for its distinct material-semiotic approach." (wikipedia)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week 2 - UStream Weekly Chat

Friday 19/9/2008 - UStream chat with Dave Cormier, George Seimens & Stephen Downs (40 people in the chat room)

What did you find interesting & compelling this week? 
Stephen - The Forrest analogy and the Truth discussion (religious comparison). 
George - The discussion around concept. Complex concepts are not understood by one person. Different people have different experiences. Good to gather together to share experiences. The notion of knowledge. There is a practical dimension to knowledge (eg: programming is based on philosophy). Discussions are an expansion of our understanding. This week has been more focused. We are starting to see concept maps that show how people see the world. 
Stephen - The theory of concept maps and how to create them. Tom Whyte's blog and the person analysing the Moodle Forums. 

Is all knowledge Connectivist? 
Stephen (?) - 3 levels (types) of knowledge 1/ Qualitative 2/ Quantitative 3/ Connectivist 
George - Yes. At it's core, in one sense or another. 
Stephen - No. 

Why does it matter if knowledge is Connectivism? 
George - Everything built on how we view knowledge. Assumption that knowledge is being distributed across networks. Learning is our ability to build those networks. Different theories have a different view of knowledge. 
Stephen - Quantitative & qualitative knowledge is based on Connected knowledge. 

Power Laws (networks) 80/20 rule 
George - Next weeks topic. Moodle Power Law - who contributed the most. Technically it should be democratic but in reality it is not as not everyone uses it. 
Stephen - Radio & Newspaper are examples of extreme Power Law. Moodle is a tree network. It grows from a single message and there is only one way from point A to point B. A blog is a mesh network. There are many ways to get from point A to point B and there is no way for 1 person to dominate. 
George - Responses influenced by motivation and capacity. Blogs depend on who links to who. Moodle is more controlled and people have different roles. 

Rizomatic or Connected is it Qualitative or Quantitative knowledge? 
Stephen - Pattern recognition is not qual or quant. It's different. That's what we are capturing with Connectivism. 
George - Qual & Quant are more advanced aspects of knowledge. Connectivism accepts that connected underlies knowledge, then build on it to be either qual or quant knowledge. 
Stephen - Underlying logic of associations is the foundation of knowledge. 

What are your thoughts about Lisa's quirky comment about Dead Connections? The distinction between people in the web and people who are not. 
George - learning now - knowing things - to being a certain type of person. Dead people's concepts we are standing on. We use them as illustrations to start discussions. When connecting concepys we can build on other people's ideas. 
Stephen - a lot of people we know through their artifacts. You don't need to be online to be involved in network learning. 
George - people have been learning through their connections throughout history eg: fathers teaching their children how to farm, stories between generations, explores and their reports. Connectivism makes being connect more explicit because 1/ overwhelming explosion of knowledge and 2/ technology is now more global. 
Stephen - Not: learning thru connections (participation i social networks). Learning: viewing the community as a whole perceiving the entire pattern. Not what but who. How you look at it, not where you get it from. 
George - biological sense (brains) neuro networks. eg: representation of a face. Recognition of dimantled pieces. Social sense (external) connections we form to people (RSS) feed allows us to learn; to develop knowledge. Who I mix with I become. Choose your friends, nature of people we associate with. We need to understand where we get our knowledge from. Aggregation of peices (neuron discussion). Priviledged sources of information (Power law). Neurons learn from neurons. Parts of the brain can take over the roles of other parts. People... 

This is never going to work with kids 
a comment by an Italian participant "...before school kids are connected, school beats it out of them. "
Stephen - Connectivism is not a theory to tell kids what to do. We need to seperate learning from authoriarism. 
George - K to 12 education has always been a heated debate. It gets back to context. 
Stephen - we teach our children by taking them out of society and putting them in little rooms. I think we should integrate learning into society, take kids out of the classroom. 

Can you give us a simple program design for fostering connected learning? 
George - Connecting classrooms with people around the world. Did they learn? Ask yourself - Did they truely connect with individuals at a peer level? Did they recognise the complexity of cultural distinctions? 
Stephen - 1/ ? Conference. For the past 2 years students have created the conference newsletter. They are out of the classroom working on a real task in a real place for real people and people at the conference are reading the paper. 2/ Community mapping - get students to map some aspect that becomes part of a map produced by the community (eg: tourist map) 3/ Environmental survey - feed back statistics gathered by students to environmental scientists so that they become part of the historical data (eg: weather readings). What we know and how we know are fundamental to what we learn and how we learn.

Week 1 - UStream Weekly Chat

Friday UStream (edutalk) chat with Dave Cormier, George Seimens & Stephen Downes

This is my personal summary of the key points made in the weekly chat. Dave kicked off with the question ...

"What is CCK08?"
George described it as a large online course looking at: 1/ how learners can inter connect and 2/ the different ways we can use technology for learning.
Stephen said what they are hoping to do with this course is clarify understanding of the connectivism theory and how it will change learning.

Moodle Course - Skeptic thread (Catherine Fitzpatrick)
George indicated that it was important to have differing views to motive people to explore the theory more deeply. He also noted that vigorous debate can be off-putting for some people however these people can focus on other discussions. (Thank goodness we can!)
Stephen responded, the world looks different depending on where you're looking at it from. There are many ways to participate, which will give us the diversity of thought.

My Note: I think debate is good and that people can be critical without being nasty. Of the few postings I read, I think Catherine's comments are just plain nasty.

What is interesting to you?
George - the amount of activity going on in various different spaces. Impressed with the level of critical dialogue and ideas being challenged and questioned. Action wise, the way people have gone out and created a variety of approaches and the way they are self-organising eg: creating participant maps, choosing people they'd like to meet with.

My Note: When I first started my blog, I thought I might summarise the weekly readings, however I read a few other blogs that were doing this (which I thought were good) so instead of "re-inventing the wheel" I thought I would use my blog to track my learning journey, and document what I did, who I connected with and how. And included links to the summaries that resonated with me eg: TechTicker's summary of George's first presentation.

Stephen the discussions about 1/ what is a theory, 2/ the needs of the individual versus the needs of the group. Stephen thinks Connectivism creates a middle ground between an individual and the group, and 3/ what Connectivism isn't.

Is Connectivism a new explanation of knowledge or a better explanation than the Cognitivism theory?
Stephen - New. Cognitivism is language based, sentences & syntaxes. Connectivism is NOT language based, it draws on non-language cognition and is based on recognising patterns.

How is this type of learning (technology) changing our brains?
George - due to lack of understanding of how the brain evolves we don't know . However we do know that activity influences the functioning of our brain. Example Doctors recommend that Alzheimer patients do learning activities to use their brain. Still far from understanding the human brain.

The experience of connecting has always been there...
Stephen - Yep, the brain has always had neurons & synapses as long as we know.
Dave - I think what you are doing is trying to describe the world as it is NOT trying to create a new world.
Stephen - What we are doing is describing the way people learn and the way learning works. Stephen indicated there "ought to be" different approaches to learning. Some approaches are less liberating, some are intended for indoctrination. He thinks learning that is liberating is better than learning that is not.

Can a person be a node or the persons idea be a node?
George - a concept (idea) we put out can be connected. You can connect to a person, you can connect to a concept. Our beliefs influence what we connect to and how.

Is knowledge in the person or in the machine?
Stephen - technology allows us to understand the nature of what's happening. The first time a large scale and observable network has come together. It allows us to view what is happening in our brains in a different way. One aspect of Connectivism is that it is a theory of distributed knowledge (idea/concept) which is new in education.
George - the theory is not pulled out of a hat it is based on a variety of research. It draws on extensive research and peer reviewed scientific articles. It builds a lot on existing concepts. Theories don't just happen in a vacuum they are built on changing needs.

Pre-requirments for Constructivism theory are logic and language. Are there any pre-requirements for Connected learning?
Stephen - cats learn but don't make meaning for themselves (Note: I didn't grasp what Stephen meant by this statement).
George - People have asked "why can't you give us a simple definition?" He used an analogy about how to describe a car to explain that there is no "simple" definition as even simple things like cars are complex. It requires different attempts, different directions and by the end of the course people will have their own understanding.
Dave - Never a one sentence answer for complex concepts or philosophies.
George - Constructivism appleas to logic and language. Connectivism appleas to importance of social interaction.
Stephen - All systems have pre-requirements, they are not isolated. Learning works better with some sort of experience.
Dave - one pre-requiement is investment. Motivation to learn.
George - The learner is more autonomous not forced to jump through educational hoops. Less power issues and relational issues.
Stephen - People making own decision independently results in deeper learning.

Is Connectivism relevant for K-12 context?
George - Emphasised that context was important. That different approaches were required for different contexts. One size (idea) does NOT fit all. Somethings need a step by step structured learning approach and in other situations an autonomous approach may suit better. There are a lot of options. It's about making sure you bring the ideas into your own context.
Stephen - 2 different contexts. How to teach a 10yr old versus how to teach a class of 10yr olds.

Are there connections between Connectivism and Communities of Practise (COP)?
George - COP concept: a community notion a certain type of network. Some COPs restrict certain types of activities and some enable certain types of activities. Network or community?
Stephen - a COP is a place in which a learner can participate and gain experience. They are in a position to see practitioners model and demonstrate there practice.

What is the role of social capital inside a Connectivist model?
Stephen - There is a risk of taking numerical values and attaching them to a network. Does it matter if one neuron is more popular or how many neurons are involved?

What is one thing you would like people to focus on and that you would like to see happen next week?
George - Focus: continued involvement. For people to move beyond their frustrations or excitment and to have a more sustained discourse.
Stephen - Focus: people taking more control over the content, picking people they want to connect with and picking concepts they want to learn more about.
Respnses - Reations to ideas of distributed knowledge and words not having a specific meaning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Week 1 - My learning journey

Week 1: What is Connectivism? (September 8-14)

I started my learning journey by reading, listening and looking at George & Stephen's presentations: 

I skimmed through some of the readings (I didn't read them in detail as some docs were quite long):

I then decided it was time to get connected and see what others were saying and first stop was the CCK08 Moodle course where I: 
  • posted a comment to the Week 1 - What is connectivism forum. 
  • added myself to the Google map of participants
  • added a post to the General forum: Meetups expressing interest in a meetup in Perth
  • added comments to General forum: Introductions. Hugh from Edinbrugh (as our daughters are both currently living in Edinbrugh) and Austin from Fremantle (as it was good to find a fellow "Sandgroper" in the course. 
  • looked at the General Forums: What is Moodle - which had numerous responses, so I didn't add anything and RSS Feeds - I was hoping to find out "how" to add an RSS feed (as I haven't had much luck with RSS feeds (but this forum was mainly people adding their own feeds & links to blogs) so I just looked to see what tools (sites) were being used 
  • read the General Forum: Blended Learning/elearning (by Nellie Deutsch from Israel) as I am very interested in this area. 
  • I followed the 2 links on Nellie's post: The NING site reminded me of my Facebook site (which I love and use to stay in touch with family & friends) so I created a (NING account) so I can connect with fellow educators and people interested in online learning.
  • I also started my own blog (although at the time I was not sure how I was going to use it). I've now decided to use it to document my learning journey throughout this course - what I did and why, so I can look back at it and reflect on it. Through my blog I started a dialogue with Nellie... She invited me to create a course on her Moodle site and to co-faciliate a Wiziq session with her. I am very familiar with Moodle but had to stop and think about what course I would like to create that might be beneficial to others (still not sure...) before responding to Nellie. I have never heard of Wiziq - so I went off on a sideways journey to discover what it was and how it worked. Wiziq appears to be similar to Elluminate (an online virtual learning environment , VLE) which I have used but is very expensive. I've created my own Wiziq account and will play about with it and accept Nellie's offer to co-facilitate when I am more familiar with it. 

Through my NING account I connected with the following people... 
  • Welcome messages received on my Home page from: - Greg (Phillipines) - Doris (Venezuela) - T BALAJI (HYDERABAD, India) 
  • Friend requests: - Jagdeep (India ?) who connected me to authorstream, an online PowerPoint sharing tool - DBulleted Listavid (Christchurch, United Kingdom) - Isabelle (United Kingdom) 
  • I visited Nellie's Moodle site and enrolled myself in all of the Web 2.0 courses as they are all of interest to me, both for the content and to see how others have constructed their online courses. Nellie's "Introduction" segment connected me to voicethread, which I love. I recognised a few people from the CCK08 course (David, Doris, Maru). I have already produced a voicethread about my Mother (who passed away last year) and invited her friends and relatives to add their memories. 
My Moodle courses (role = student):
  • Blogspot Posts: Ted Kopp. Connected me to which I have used to create a banner for my Europe 2008 blog. - Webquests: Nellie Deutsch (includes links to examples)
  • Digital Stories: David Brear (includes links to examples) 
  • Exploring new domains: Nellie Deutsch. On perusing the participant list for this course I noticed Meg O'Reilly from Lismore. I decided to email to Meg and make a connection as I was heading to Lismore for the weekend - just one more thing in common! 
  • Collaborative Learning: Nellie Deutsch 
Other Blogs & web sites I read...
but not sure how I connected to them (probably thru the Moodle forums or the Daily). Info taken from my browser history: