CCK08: Week 2 Early Doors and Better Fit

I missed the Ustream discussions on Friday so I ended my first week of the course with a need to catch up (today I am the 784th viewer of the broadcast)! Over the weekend I reflected on Week 1 in CCK08.

My first day at primary school was in September 1956. Week 1 of CCK08 ignited my memories of that first day fifty-two years and a few weeks ago (there were twenty fellow pupils that day). These memories helped me ground my reading for Week 2 and to think about the personal dimensions of learning.  It was fascinating to read Stephen’s post and George’s post about Week 1 (2000+ pupils).

I have read all three readings for Week 2 today. The last sentence I read was in the paper by Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia (1996) on rethinking learning. My take out message for this week is part of that final sentence:

… so it’s not necessarily that I have everything, that I have all the information. but that I’m able to piece things in that make sense …

In my sense making, Stephen’s 2006 paper on Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge and George’s (2006) Shifting have helped me piece some things together. In my rethinking of epistemology I have been contemplating emergence and better fit theories.

My thinking has been clarified by using an analogy. I was fortunate to be in Barcelona in July this year and whilst dining out in a first floor restaurant I watched someone try to park a car in a space that appeared too small for the car. The driver thought otherwise and this is what he achieved:

The manoeuvre required the driver to nudge the car in front forward and the car behind backward. In this way, the driver created a space but to get out of the situation he created each of the other two cars had a direct relationship with the car that arrived in the small space. The original manoeuvre was not consensual and involved an invasion of space.

I wonder if some theories do have a better fit than others and occupy an expansive epistemological space? The arrogance of theorising occurs for me when an a priori assumption is made that a theory is the answer to all sense making.

I am attracted to connectivism because of its resonance with earlier parts of my learning journey. I have been interested in Max Weber’s verstehen and George Kelly’s personal construct psychology. Both Weber and Kelly argued for the on-going development of a theory open to challenge and replacement. I think both saw theory as an heuristic approach to knowing.

In my car parking analogy, I believe connectivism has chosen to park in a much bigger space in a clear part of the street. Even when you park in a very open space some people think you have taken their parking spot and demand that you move. Sometimes they even put notes under your windscreen wiper to let you know just how angry they are!

Week 2’s readings and the Barcelona episode have encouraged me to think much more about epistemology’s better fit and the openness connectivism offers in this regard. I do believe that theory is fallible in social contexts and that a potential theory of everything can have modesty and humility. My reading of connectivism is that it is invitational rather than prescriptive.

I am excited by connectivism’s emergence and incandescence. I am delighted that connectivism is contestable and a reflexive part of its own transformation.

CCK08: Week 1 (Part 3)

(Bridge Building over the Mongarlowe River)

I joined in the second of the two Elluminate sessions hosted by George and Stephen. It was a great time for me in Australia … 10a.m.. It was my first Elluminate session and rather like my first seminar at the University of York in September 1970 I chose not to talk! I had a USB microphone hooked up just in case!

Thanks to the post on The Daily with the link to the recording of the session I have been able to re-visit the exchanges that were occurring. In real-time it was quite a challenge to monitor the range of narratives that were underway: I recall people writing messages to say hello, news of a baby, wonderful exchanges of links and advice, statements about the (un) connectedness of personal interaction and questions about comments on blogs. At the same time I listened to George’s facilitation and the orderly taking of the microphone.

I had to leave my computer half way through the session to do some domestic tasks but turned up my audio to hear the voices of contributors (continuous partial attention!). Away from the computer I thought about some of the exchanges about about connectivism as a theory and noted that The Daily drew a distinction between the two Elluminate sessions in this regard.

The thoughts that were running through my head were:

1. It was 11 September in Australia and people from all over the world were connected by a mutual interest that had intrinsic value.

2. Does each of us have a different (relative) sense of the necessary and sufficient conditions of theorising and a theory? I will follow up on Stephen’s slides to see what he has to say about absolutes and universals in a postmodern world.

3. Connectivism attracts remarkable people. As George indicated in one of his contributions during Session Two, we ‘know’ of each other in a virtual sense. This knowing is phenomenally rich in possibilities (and depth). In one of my few posts in the written exchanges in Session Two I mentioned anthropologists’ use of the term ‘polysemic’. (This is a good example, I think.)

4. I shared a lot of the experiences of other participants in the session! I have failed miserably to join Second Life. I wonder if I should add a comment on all the blogs appearing in the CCK08 space to affirm each writer’s commitment to sharing ideas, thoughts and reflections. Should I have asked questions about the baby’s weight?

5. Most of all I thought myself very fortunate to spend an hour in the company of fifty colleagues from around the world. (I was interested to learn that on the same day as our conversation there was a presentation at the Alt-C conference in the UK entitled ‘What if learning technologists ruled the world?’)

Now where is that Buntine Oration I should be reading (it is 00.30 a.m. 12 September and unable to sleep)?

Afternote: Clive Shepherd posted this about Webcasting at another conference on the same day.

CCK08: Week 1 (Part 2)

I have taken an opportunity to read Maarten de Laat‘s (2006) thesis on Networked Learning. I enjoyed the range of Maarten’s work and must revisit the detail in each of the chapters. Chapter 3 has a discussion of theory and praxis and I read with interest Maarten’s discussion of Lawrence Stenhouse’s work.

(Lawrence Stenhouse, Donald Schon and Eliot Eisner had an enormous impact on my thinking in the 1980s. They are my antecedents of connected, open communities of practice able to reflect on and transform learning).

I noted too Maarten’s observations about networks, communities and learning:

  • Networked learning provides the opportunity to gain more active control and take ownership over learning agenda.
  • Networked learning environments provide open learning spaces where people are able to develop meaningful interactions between each other.
  • Networked learning happens spontaneously between people who decide to share their interests.
  • it is the communities that people build that open the doors for ‘new’ learners to enter their knowledge domain, take part in their conversations and learn about their practice.
  • It is the community that keeps knowledge alive and accessible over a longer period of time, through
    fostering meaningful lasting relationships.
  • Communities are social learning spaces.

I hope to read more of the Additional readings! My next stop is re-reading Stephen’s Buntine Oration.