So I’ve really stepped into it this time. Connectivisim. I’m sometimes easily scared off and intimidated by “academic” jargon and massive complex thought. Wading through such things can easily shut me down and turn me off, but today I found two posts that have totally shed new light on a topic that has been…lost on me…for the past few months.
First, Will Richardson’s post on Connecting For Life spiked my interest once again in the whole idea of connectivisim. [Testing out my new found, and very limited understanding of connectivism theory, Richardson became the “node” of my online network that got all this started.
What got me intersted in going deeper? A few things: 1. Richardson’s interest. I appreciate a great deal of what he has to say, so I decided to explore further. He is a “node of value” to me.
2. I’m interested in how people learn. So is Richardson. He says
“Connectivism which explains how learning happens in a digital era. It states, briefly, that old theories of learning are becoming obsolete because they can’t account for the speed at which learners are being asked to consume and process information these days.”
I don’t want to become obsolete. Another motivator. Those who don’t SEE and MAKE the connections simply get left behind. They are outmoded. Obsolete.
I think this idea is what I was aiming at when I was commenting about Teachers as Free Agents post over at English360.com, and AJ’s “For whom the bell tolls” mediocre and job security train of thought. Teachers must be today teachers. We must realize the truth behind this phrase, which I picked up from a pdf file posted on the headshift blog a few weeks ago:
“The market is smarter and faster than we are.”
While this node comes from business and marketing, I easily see a connection for me. My market is the students in my classroom. Have I been left behind? Is my teaching practice informed by up-to-date theory and ideas?
Getting back on target: Richardson’s post led me to a really easy to understand explanation of connectivisim on gsiemens’Connectivisimblog that you should take a peek at if you’re at all into how people are learning in the digital age.
I found this post to be enlightening in that it helped me begin to understand that learning today is about building connections, and those connections are largely built by the student on an INTEREST and NEED basis. I really like this line from gsiemens:
The concept [connectivisim] centers on a person’s ability to create his or her own personal learning network. Rather than learning only through courses, we learn by creating and forming connections to information and people. The sources we select are dynamic. When they change, our whole network gets smarter.
The ESL classroom is not…well should no longer be…an isolated, encolosed teacher/student space.
The ESL teacher, informed by connectivist theory, no longer solely relys on the book for his/her class. Instead, he or she begins to open the doors of the classroom to the rest of the world - digital and paper. He or she realizes that students are already in motion, and have interests, passions, a job, etc that they are, should, could, be acquiring English around - and steps into a “how can I help you connect to “nodes of interest” around what you’re passionate about, IN ENGLISH, that will help you develop your own network?
This is turning into a very wordy post, so I will come to an end soon…but the final, but I think most important discovery today happened as I followed a link on the gsiemens’ site to this bit on
Here is where the light bulb really turned on, and stayed on. Konrad Glogowski, the author of the afore mentioned post, took connectivism and broke it down into what it looks like in my language. In what I do each day, and how it would look in my classroom.
His post is just packed with great ideas. I love his ending the best though:
How does all this affect my teaching methodology? My classroom has transformed itself from a place where knowledge was pre-packaged for students to a place where they are now given a responsibility of creating it, where they have to participate in existing networks (class blogosphere, for example), nurture their own (Furl or del.icio.us accounts, blogs), and look for connections. Their participation leads them to formulate their thoughts and ideas, to find connections between their own views and the nodes they find around them. Once a connection is made in the form of a blog entry for example, the students have created their own knowledge - they’ve made a contribution to their own understanding and the network itself. Once they start building, they become engaged and empowered; they understand the value of community (or a network) and their own place and role in it.
It is at that point that I become a teacher of Connectivism, engaged in the task of teaching my students to recognize and formulate connections and patterns. I make them aware of the transformative potential of participating in and learning from networks. It is their history or trajectory of participation that becomes the true goal of education.
I will have to comment on this one again…but what a discovery. Connectivism is being a connector. Is creating nodes to be connected to. It’s connecting to other people, and therefore building a larger, smarter network. Learning is no longer isolated. Great stuff.