Archive for the ‘General thoughts’ Category

Connectivism Wiki and the creation of knowledge

Friday, September 18th, 2009

From twitter I just happened to stumble upon a wiki-page on Constructivism which is being developed as part of the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge/09 online conference. While I find many of the ideas of connectivism appealing and really interesting, I think there are some problems in calling it a new learning theory or paradigm in itself (as the criticism section of the Wikipedia entry on Connectivism also suggest, and which is explored by Kop & Hill in the article: Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?).

I really do not mean to make a long-winded criticism or dismissing a perspective which I truly find interesting, but looking at the wiki I also think there are some problems. For instance I found the following passage, which I think is quite curious:

What then, do we find to be distinct about connectivism?

1. Existing theories of learning fail to account for the expansion and creation of knowledge

I think it is rather curious that the authors use the word expansion without making reference to e.g. Yrjö Engeström’s theory of expansive learning, which he wrote back in 1987 (is available here). And in the table describing different theories of learning PIaget and Vygotsky are placed under ‘Constructivism’ – although I think there are many commonalities, there are also some differences, which I think would place Vygotsky more within a ‘socio-cultural’ approach (e.g. as also explored in Dillenbourg et al. 1995 who differ between socio-constructivist, socio-cultural (and then situated cognition)). However, there are many different attempts to group learning theories and is difficult to provide overviews without simplifying a bit of course. However, I think it is not quite right to suggest that existing theories fail to account for the expansion and creation of knowledge, as I do find that socio-cultural theorist (Engeström, Saljö and many many others have provided very interesting and extensive accounts of this) – also I would say that others have contributed to this as well (as discussed by Paavola et al. (2004))

Furthermore, I do find there are or could be some very interesting links between Networked Learning and Connectivism – e.g. when looking at the definition from Goodyear et al. (2004):

“Networked learning is learning in which information and communications (ICT) is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners, between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources”

I think it would be interesting to further explore how connectivism resemble, differ from, extends or in some ways lack thought from some of these frameworks. Therefore I am also very happy that George Siemens and Stephen Downes will be hosting an online seminar in relation to the Networked Learning Conference from the 26th of October – I am sure some very interesting discussions will emerge from that, and I am also really looking forward to getting to know more about their perspective! (hopefully I will have all the time in the world to participate vividly during those days :-) )

Some references

Dillenbourg, P., Baker, M., Blaye, A., & O’Malley, C. (1996). The Evolution of Research on Collaborative Learning. In E. Spada & P. Reiman (Eds.), Learning in humans and machines: Towards an interdisciplinary learning science (pp. 189-211). Oxford: Pergamon/Elsevier Science. http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa/publicat/dil-papers-2/Dil.7.1.10.pdf

Goodyear, P., Banks, S., Hodgson, V., & McConnell, D. (2004). Advances in Research on Networked Learning. Dordrecht: Klüwer Academic Publishers.

Paavola, S., Lipponen, L., & Hakkarainen, K. (2004). Models of Innovative Knowledge Communities and Three Metaphors of Learning. Review of Educational Research, 74(4), 557-576.  http://rer.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/74/4/557 

We need hype cycles and peaks of inflated expectations!

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Recently I have been working on articles about ‘web 2.0′ technologies and practices in relation to education and also been engaging in discussions of youth and their use of ICT (where terms such as the Net Generation, Digital Natives, The New Millennium Learners, Power Users etc. are prevalent in the debate).

In relation to the latter, I have just read the article “The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence” by Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin (which I would recommend). The authors criticise the ideas of stark generational discontinuities between a group of IT-savvy, young ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ who lack the technological fluency of the ‘digital natives’. The distinction has been heralded by e.g. Mark Prensky who has argued that the ‘language’ and cultural gap between the two generations is one of the biggest challenges the educational sector faces to today:

“[...] the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.” (Prensky, 2001, p. 2)

Similar claims have been made in relation to some of the other broad generational labels mentioned above and Bennett, Maton & Kervin elegantly summarise these claims:

“1. Young people of the digital native generation possess sophisticated knowledge of and skills with information technologies.
2. As a result of their upbringing and experiences with technology, digital natives have particular learning preferences or styles that differ from earlier generations of students.”

In general they argue that the claims and assumptions are based on ‘limited empirical evidence‘ and basically ‘supported by anecdotes and appeals to common-sense beliefs‘. On basis of a review of existing research on youth and their use of technology they conclude:

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