I’ve been going over the feedback for my first assessment task for EDIT 517, Learning Community Defined and thinking about where I went wrong. I’m really grateful for the feedback and hope that I can make amends for the second assignment. Getting back on track is going to be easier if I incorporate the feedback directly into an analysis and restatement of those sections where I lost marks.
I was looking at my experience of Change11 as participation in an online learning community. My first mistake was not to define a learning community as an outcome of the argument developed in the first section. I had placed it in the abstract and late in the second section, but it needed to be hammered home early and often.
Essentially my definition of community is that they are an emergent property of social systems where people in trusting relationships are involved in the collaborative exchange and creation of knowledge for the purpose of learning.
The second place I lost marks was not answering the question. The assignment asked for a description of one learning approach that could be used in the learning community. I gave several along a continuum. I should have really zeroed in on the connectivist approach to learning, which is after all, what I am interested in.
So in answering that question, the proliferation of the Internet and networked theories of learning have given rise to new approaches to learning (Siemens, G. 2005). Downes (2007) draws some similarities between the principles guiding the proliferation of the web and the connectivist approach which include the fostering of networks, creation over consumption, and massive decentralisation of both content and control. He argues that learning networks and technologies that foster diversity and autonomy, enable connections and support openness are more effective in supporting learning than those that do not.
Inherent in the connectivist approach is a re-imagining of where knowledge resides, which is a question that reaches into philosophical territory. At the very least connectivism offers pedagogies which emphasise the network, and knowledge creation as the user traverses nodes in the network.
I made the mistake of moving from the specific to the general when again the assignment asked for a description of how just two tools might be used to support the connectivist approach in a MOOC. I started out by describing how gRSShopper aggregated content and blogs provided a platform for metacognition, but then loosened my grip on it by talking about conversational media in general.
I am now starting to see that I can take the connectivist approach and apply it to my professional situation. Sure a MOOC does give you a taste of what connectivism is all about, but there might be ways that connectivism can work on a smaller scale, or in different domains. Our brains themselves are complex neuronal networks which at our current level of understanding defy our attempts to replicate and model them.
Seymour Papert once said that if a learning theory is robust enough, then one should be able to use it to construct a learning machine. Perhaps that learning machine is not a silver plated robot, or a humanoid supercomputer which plays table tennis. Perhaps it is the network of social structures and institutions that surrounds us?
We need news ways of imagining these structures and institutions. Our conception of the corporation as an individual with rights similar to human beings, but with out recourse to prosecution for crimes committed in the pursuit of profit, is not serving us very well. What if the corporation was re-imagined so that it exchanged the profit motive for a knowledge motive? We would then being moving forward into the territory of radical abundance.
As one of my colleagues quipped, why would you go to work if you had a replicator at home and you could produce almost anything for free? I think that is an over simplification of the argument of course. Re-imagining labour however, is something that should be addressed immediately.
Downes, S. (2007). Learning networks in practice. Emerging Technologies for Learning
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3–10.