My MindMap of Network Connections (Click to Enlarge)
Behaviorists and cognitivists theories emerge from objectivist tradition, believing that knowledge is “out there” to be transferred into the learner (Driscoll, 2005, page 387). In contrast to objectivists’ viewpoints, constructivist theorists assume that knowledge is constructed by learners as they attempt to make sense of their experiences (p. 387). Now, connectivists claimed to provide new opportunities for learning that are not met by behaviorist, cognitivists, and constructivists learning theories. Siemens declared that the demands of the digital age cannot be met by employing the three traditional learning theories and demonstrates how connections and networks are more relevant in a digital age. In a video segment shown by Laureate Education Inc., Siemens stated that in this complex world in which people are swamped with information and digital resources, the role of educators have changed (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a). Yes, my connections facilitate my learning in the sense that these connections do affect how much and what type of information I am able to gather (though I would not say it changes how I learn). How my connections facilitate learning is as follows.
How Has My Network Changed The Way I Learn?
As shown in my mindmap above, without thinking, over the years I had formed diverse networks in my pursuit of information. However, information is useless to me if I cannot apply such findings to real life issues. In short, I am always seeking information that I can use to help me to build on top of what I already know. So in essence, I am actually seeking knowledge. These networks are separated into two main categories, 1) resources found through digitized technologies; and 2) digital resources that are connected to people. Importantly, these connections that I have formed do not change how I learn, though they might affect the type of information I gather. As a learner, I should make sure that I am not only involving persons who are always in agreement with what I have to say. As an educator, from the connectivists perspective, my primary role is to validate and assist learners in forming diverse networks, ensuring that such networks are diverse and include a broad range of sources of information (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011b). In other words, as educators, we have to encourage students to not only include readers who are always in agreement with their ideas. Educators should encourage learners to include a broad range of sources of information, information that are also contradictory to their concepts.
Which Digital Tools Best Facilitate My Learning?
According to Siemens in the video segment, connectivists teaching and learning must utilize the ability for learners to form effective networks. Siemens described practical technologies as any platform that has the ability for people to express ideas and have the ability for others to come back and comment on these ideas. In short, educators who seek to employ connectivists approach would need open spaces for users to communicate (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011c). This seemed to have echoed constructivism where learners are not simply empty vessels waiting to be filled, but instead are active organisms seeking meaning and trying to make sense of their experiences (Perkins, 1991). As shown in my mindmap, I do have multiple open spaces for communicating with family, friends within my learning community and with persons outside my field of study. I find that the following tools work best to facilitate my learning. For example, this blog, my emails (including, instant messaging, video chats, document sharing), my twitter account, my Skype account, my wiki account, my Facebook and MySpace accounts.
How Do I Learn New Knowledge When I Have Questions?
Instructional designers have had to adapt to the changes as they occur in this digital age wherein the internet has caused a power shift in classrooms (Siemens, 2008, p. 19). When I have questions, without much thought I have always make full use of resources that resides in a distributed manner across networks, as described by Siemens in 2008 when he stated, “knowledge does not only reside in the mind of an individual, knowledge resides in a distributed manner across a network . . . learning is the act of recognizing patterns shaped by complex networks.” According to Siemens, these networks are internal, as neural networks, and external, as networks in which we adapt to the world around us (Siemens 2006, p. 10). In other words, whenever I am learning new information and have questions, the first thing that I would do is go to a search engines such as Google to scan the internet for clues. Second, I would go to a database system (for instance ProQuest) to find reliable sources of information based on what I had uncovered from search engines. If I still need clarity, I would search for webinars or presentations that relate to that topic. In my final attempt for lucidity, I would dig through my contact lists on my phone and emails to connect with professors or individuals who specialize in that area. However, like Dr. Moller, I also have a slight problem with Siemen's idea that knowledge does not only reside in the mind of an individual, believing that knowledge resides in a distributed manner across a network! If that is the case, knowlege would be an item auctioned off to the rich and famous like most precious commodities!
Technological developments over the years have significantly altered how learners access information and knowledge, and how learners dialogue with the instructor and each other (Siemens, 2008, p. 3). I agree with Siemens when he stated that prior to this technological era, access and interaction was mainly under the control of teachers (p. 3). So yes, there is now a shift in power within classrooms. In fact, most of the students at the college where I teach do make use of the same available networked resources I turn to whenever I am seeking out new information and have questions. Knowing this, I have to make sure to keep up with the changes in this new age, especially since often information might become invalid in a short period of time.
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 9(3), 1-13. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Perkins, D. (1991). Technology meets constructivism: Do they make a marriage? Educational Technology 31, 5 (May), 18-23.
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Copyright 2006 by George Siemens. Used by permission.
Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Paper 105: University of Georgia IT Forum. http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper105/Siemens.pdf
Verhagen, P. (2006). Connectivism: A new learning theory? Surf e-learning themasite,http://elearning.surf.nl/e-learning/english/3793