Sunday, September 21, 2008

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.

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