Connection not Content

A Blog for MOOCs and Other Animals

#CCK11: More connections – and a little content on Learning Theories

with 2 comments

Looking forward to CCK11,  I’ve made one or two basic connections by laying down a few bookmarks in delicious, resurrecting an old twitter account and starting this blog. So far so good but where from here? I run a small, not-for-pofit education website and therefore have an interest in the workings of connectivism  where it means ‘networked learning’ but beyond that I’m not so clear about the concept and, as a retired educator with a background in engineering, not exactly up to speed when it comes to learning theories or philosophy. If there are others like me then so much the better but it’s quite possible that I’ll end up listening and lurking rather than contributing much. I’ve done some reading on learning theories though, so here’s a very initial thought – by way of content.

The Great Melting Pot of Learning Theories contains a large number of overlapping and sometimes competing theories and concepts dealing primarily in the realm of ideas or even speculation. To what extent has scientific method been applied as a means of validation? Not having surveyed the vast literature I can’t answer that but in some cases I wonder if it can be applied at all and if it can’t then how on earth do we sort out the good from the bad? In practice though, the different theories appear to be cheerfully applied by experienced educators simply according to how they best fit into different learning situations. Until a scientific basis for learning is achieved through neurology or whatever, I can’t really see an alternative to this sort of  pragmatism.

In the case of connectivism, I guess the jury may be out for some time if only because of its relative newness so every reason to maintain a healthy skepticism and an open mind. All the same,  given the rise of the MOOC, the energy and enthusiasm of those involved and the research activity following in its wake,  the MOOC itself,  and its little brother the OOC,  may be poised to provide the best fit examples yet of connectivism to real learning.

Written by Gordon Lockhart

January 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. Hi Gordon 🙂 Welcome to CCK11 – I’ve just embarked on it too.

    “the different theories appear to be cheerfully applied by experienced educators simply according to how they best fit into different learning situations”

    I’d agree with that wholeheartedly – and it doesn’t bother me either – use whatever appears to work – as long, as you say, we keep an open mind, and balance our healthy skepticism with appreciative enquiry in order to keep ourselves chipper 😉

    Something I find particularly interesting is how well the connectivist learning theory applies in learning about knowledge, networks and learning technologies. The facilitators of this course – and the vast majority of the participants – are working in this field. This is something we need to keep reminding ourselves. I want to explore how the connectivist theory of learning is relevant to learning ballet, acting, art teaching, fashion journalism and pattern cutting. I feel it *is* relevant, but on these MOOCs you tend to get a view that is a little skewed towards the learning technology discipline.

    I experienced the PLENK2010 MOOC in the autumn and learned a lot from that experience, which I’m planning to put into practice with CCK11. This time round I have a clearer idea of my own goals and questions and am going to focus on those. With PLENK, the first three weeks were ridiculous; initially you’ll be bombarded with an untenable number of new connections and ‘weak ties’. If you start to feel overloaded, just crawl back into your corner, go back to the recommended resources and try to digest them by yourself. It will all get a lot quieter around week 5!

    Lindsay Jordan

    January 14, 2011 at 10:50 am

  2. Thanks Lindsay for a first and most interesting reply to my blog! This is my first MOOC and I haven’t got much of a clear idea yet of my goals but I’m already learning – Quora, Elluminate, etc. – and all in a few days.

    Concerning the application of connectivism beyond learning technologies etc., I think that MOOCs to date have mainly been preaching to the converted (educators, media students, learning technologists etc) and nothing wrong with that of course as it establishes a fine spring board for further development. However, I think considerable adaptation or indeed watering down, may be needed in other learning situations – e.g. where foundation skills are concerned like learning the ‘correct’ safety procedures in civil engineering (or brain surgery!) and I guess the same might apply in mastering the rudiments of ballet etc. I’m a bit uneasy about the way connectivism seems to play down the importance of learning objectives.


    January 19, 2011 at 9:25 pm

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