I received an email from a friend yesterday. My friend wrote of #UCSIA15 “the most useful part of being in this community is the opportunity to share and learn from others“. My friend lamented that more people had not taken an active part in discussions about the course, its content and approach.
The email led me to think about how this sharing might occur in an invitational environment. I have written a number of posts about the essence of #UCSIA15 as a connectivist course. Darrell’s reflections on the course have helped me think about this sharing and learning too. His week 3 observations included this quote from Linda Flanagan (2014) about extreme learners, These learners are “are self-directed, wide-ranging in their interests, comfortable with technology, and adept at building communities around their interests”.
Linda’s quote resonates with Tom Whitby’s (2014) discussions about connected educators. He notes that:
Technology has provided us with the ability to communicate, curate, collaborate, and (most importantly) create with any number of educators, globally, at any time, and at very little cost.
One would think educators would be celebrating in the streets at the good fortune of advancing their own learning while helping their profession evolve.
That jubilation does not yet exist in many educators.
My response to my friend who emailed me about sharing and learning is that I think each of us decides how we might engage with learning opportunities. #UCSIA15 is as much about pedagogy as it is about content. It is about encouragement and nurturing as well as the joys of open sharing. It is for me the active decision to move from peripheral participation to engagement with core issues.
It is about the very special decision to move from involvement to commitment.
When we were planning the course, the wonderful educational designers at the University of Canberra were encouraging me to be pro-active in scaffolding learning and sharing opportunities. I did resist their suggestions. Part of my learning has been about how to negotiate the prescription-openness continuum in learning environments. My plan was to guide discovery if possible.
Course design, like learning, is messy and iterative. I am writing this post at the end of week 3 of the course and am thinking more and more about agile design in an open, online course that, thanks to the generosity of spirit of Darrell Cobner and Adam Cullinane at Cardiff Metropolitan University, has a virtual 24 hour daily presence.
Whenever I think about connectivist learning I find myself returning to Stephen Downes.
In his introduction to Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (2012, p.11), he observes:
Connectivist learning is a process of immersion in an environment, discovery and communication – a process of pattern recognition rather than hypothesis and theory-formation. Learning is not a matter of transferring knowledge from a teacher to a learner, but is rather the product of the learner focusing and repeating creative acts, of practising something that is important and reflecting on this practice.
This immersion, creating, practicing and reflecting in connectivism has four dynamic characteristics (2012, p.371):
- Interactivity and connectedness
Stephen’s contention is that “if these four dynamics are detected within a community, then a connectivist dynamic exists within that community, and (consequently) the probability of that community producing (new) connective knowledge is increased“.
I am hopeful that #UCSIA15 will contribute to the discussion about and development of a (new) connective knowledge.
I will write to my friend and share my message of hope about cooperation and will share an example that appeared between the receipt of the email and the writing of this post.