It’s only fitting I guess that I get to post this week dealing with Connectivism. It was a theory I was introduced to in 2007 and is the driving force behind the creation of COETAIL and why COETAIL is set up the way it is. I find it fascinating that here is a learning theory that has been out since 2005 that really looks at how teaching and learning change in a connected classroom yet schools continue to try to “change teaching and learning” without considering new learning theories. Once you put the power of the Internet in the hands of students it changes everything!
I thought I would look at the founding principals of Connectivism as found here and add my own thinking of how this applies to COETAIL and the learning experience we hope we introduce you to here.
- The integration of cognition and emotions in meaning-making is important. Thinking and emotions influence each other. A theory of learning that only considers one dimension excludes a large part of how learning happens.
We know emotions play a large role in learners. The emotion that you bring to the class everyday as a student need to be considered. At COETAIL we try and recognize the emotions of teachers who are felling over worked or over whelmed by the course content. We try to do our best to allow people the flexibility they need to manage their own emotions of having a full time job and taking these courses.
- Learning has an end goal – namely the increased ability to “do something”. This increased competence might be in a practical sense (i.e. developing the ability to use a new software tool or learning how to skate) or in the ability to function more effectively in a knowledge era (self-awareness, personal information management, etc.). The “whole of learning” is not only gaining skill and understanding – actuation is a needed element. Principles of motivation and rapid decision making often determine whether or not a learner will actuate known principles.
Through the journey that is COETAIL we hope that you learn how to “do something” whether that is create a video, embed an image, create a presentation, etc as well as “function more effectively in a knowledge era” by taking time to talk about Copyright, issues, students today, and theories and approaches here in course 4. At the end of the journey (course 5) we hope that you are able to put all this new learning to practice in your classroom creating new learning for both you and your students along the way.
- Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. A learner can exponentially improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network.
This is the foundation of COETAIL from course 1. Helping you to understand how this is done and connecting you with those specialized nodes of information sources. This is otherwise known as your PLN.
- Learning may reside in non-human appliances. Learning (in the sense that something is known, but not necessarily actuated) can rest in a community, a network, or a database.
I think there is a lot of ways of looking at this….either through learning via things like codecademy.com or by watching YouTube videos. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime and when you need it. Our goal is not only to have you learn through the community but to put that learning into action in your classroom.
- The capacity to know more is more critical that what is currently known. Knowing where to find information is more important than knowing information.
This to me is a HUGE shift for education. This is what moves education as a whole from a “Just in case” learning world to a “Just in time” learning world. Knowing where to find information and how to learn from it once you do find it is the skill of today…that one skill alone changes everything we do and how we should approach teaching and learning. You’ll notice through COETAIL we continue to encourage you to go search for yourself, learn from your own searches. We need to move past the “Here are the things the teacher wants me to read and do” to a place where the student is given a question and can find the answer themselves. Our goal is to give you the skills, confidence, and freedom to do just that.
- Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate learning. Connection making provides far greater returns on effort than simply seeking to understand a single concept.
The only way we “force” you to maintain connections is by blogging and commenting on other blogs. That’s the forced connection part to get you started……are real hope is that you find the connections that you want to maintain and nurture those. At the end of course 4 the “forced connections” stop and you are left to find your communities, networks and nods and continue to maintain those connections. For some that is still blogging, for others that’s Twitter, Google+, or a host of other places. We want to show you the power of connections in a globally connected world.
- Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.
Which is why we have all of you blog around a given idea. Numerous people all sharing their own thoughts, beliefs and knowledge on a given subject or question leads to greater learning for all.
- Learning happens in many different ways. Courses, email, communities, conversations, web search, email lists, reading blogs, etc. Courses are not the primary conduit for learning.
This is why we continue to push different ways for you to connect. There is your blog, the COETAIL groups, the #coetail, the Google+ community and thanks to our coaches the new #coetailchat Learning happens in all these places. Our job as the “teacher” is to set these networks up for you and allow you and the collective yous to decide which ones work and for what purpose.
- Different approaches and personal skills are needed to learn effectively in today’s society. For example, the ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
This is the hardest part I think….as we all learned to learn one way and now there are different approaches when you learn in a connected world. We have to rethink our own personal skills as well as the approaches we use in learning ourselves.
- Organizational and personal learning are integrated tasks. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network and continue to provide learning for the individual. Connectivism attempts to provide an understanding of how both learners and organizations learn.
I see this as your blog (personal learning) and the organization (the front page of COETAIL) working together. It’s all the ways that things feed each other. Your blog post feeds into the organization and the organization learns from that and feeds back to you. It’s a constant give and take learning process.
- Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning.
This is part of the reason we started using Flipboard this year. Trying to keep the links up-to-date within course units is difficult as the information is constantly changing. So a new more accurate and up-to-date system needed to be developed…..hence the reason we use Flipboard.
- Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate impacting the decision.
I’m personally still struggling with how to teach this. How do we teach people that they truly have the power to choose what to learn? Many times I hear people say “We don’t know what we don’t know”….so how do you chose to learn something when you don’t even know that something exists? If anyone has a better way of looking at this I’m all ears!
- Learning is a knowledge creation process…not only knowledge consumption. Learning tools and design methodologies should seek to capitalize on this trait of learning.
Yes…you create many things along your journey here with COETAIL. You create lesson plans, videos, presentations, infographics, Acceptable Use Policies and to top it all of a new unit plan to implement in course 5. I believe learning only truly happens when you create something new from what you just learned. Consuming is one thing….to create something new from what you consumed…that’s learning!
Do you see yourself as a learner of connectivism?
What are we missing here at COETAIL to make your connectivst learning better?