Connectivism, pedagogy, scholarship in public

Stranger Things, Season 1 in Graphs

This week in the #EL30 course with Stephen Downes, we are looking at graphs.

First, two passages from his recent draft monograph on graphs.

In connectivism we have explored the idea of thinking of knowledge as a graph, and of learning as the growth and manipulation of a graph. It helps learners understand that each idea connects to another, and its not the individual idea thats important, but rather how the entire graph grows and develops.”

and

So where does this knowledge come from? It helps us see how a graph – and hence, knowledge – is not merely a representational system, but is rather a perceptual system, where the graph is not merely the repository, but a growing and dynamic entity shaped by – and shaping – the environment around itself.”
I have just finished watching the first season of Stranger Things. It was pretty great and, perhaps because something is wrong with me, I started to see the series as a flow of connections between the characters, which as Downes suggests, is all about the building and sharing of knowledge.
To illustrate this, I created a set of five graphs. As you look at them, try to see the changing connections of the characters as flows and sharing of information.
Stranger Things Graph 1
Stranger Things Graph 2
Stranger Things Graph 3
Stranger Things Graph 4

Stranger Things Graph 5 (1)

It would be great to hear what your thoughts about these and this method of conveying evolving networks.

scholarship in public

Taking a Course by Following a Course

My brain isn’t very happy with the paradigm shift (yet), but I am taking Stephen Downes’s cMOOC E Learning 3.0 by following it in my feed reader (Feedspot).

When I say my brain isn’t very happy I mean that the part of my brain that is used to a course having one specific path and medium. I am thrilled to be so challenged.

scholarship in public

What is Learning Design, anyway?

For the past couple of weeks, I have been engaged in a cMOOC with Stephen Downes, ELearning 3.0. Of course, engagement is a tricky thing. I fully intended to be on top of everything, every day, but I have had to dip in and out.

This afternoon, I read through Stephen’s description of designing the course (the series starts here). It was fascinating at so many different levels. One the surface, this series looks like nothing more than a technical description of the tool he built for this cMOOC, gRSShopper. But it is really about what it means to design, implement, and evolve a (personal) learning environment. The tool is not just a tool. It is a vehicle for learning.

This is incredibly relevant to me. I have been spending the last few years investigating learning design, first as a K-12 educator (I was a secondary biology teacher in New York) and now as a teacher educator at Pace University. In this capacity, I am interested in the emergence of learning networks under conditions of autonomy and competence support (I am in the midst of writing a theoretical framework/blog post on this topic at the moment.

The point for the moment is that the tools of design and their implementation are the learning environment itself in a real way. I can only learn using the personal learning environment I have created. If I want to learn more, I need a modified/more robust/better(?) learning environment. Lots to think about now.

scholarship in public

NYPD’s COMSAT and Ed Tech

I spent some time this morning listening to the great Reply All podcast two-part series called The Crime Machine. You should listen to both parts. Part 1 and Part 2.

This series told the story of CompStat, a system built by the NYPD in the 90’s in order to help make crime and crime patterns visible in actionable ways and which evolved to end up eating and dominating the system that built it. To my mind, it’s a story of good intentions, positive outcomes, and unintended consequences.

Ed Tech analogues, anyone?

scholarship in public

Emerging Learning Networks

I was inspired by a project that Rhizomatic Learning Man Dave Cormier posted this morning. He is working on developing a worksheet to support the development of an arduino project with K-12 students.

I have been working for some time now to investigate the types of learning environments and activities that foster/support/promote the emergence of self-directed learning.

One experience that has been a touchstone for me is teaching Scratch and Arduino (in separate settings). We saw what I started calling a “ripple” effect. I would demonstrate some basic skill. Some kids would get it immediate and could not stop themselves from trying it out. The amazing part is that they then became compelled to share what they had done with other students. The kids literally started rippling through the classroom. And suddenly most, if not all, of the others were engaged.

Over time, the time I would spend on the introduction of the basic skills would get shorter and shorter to allow more time for the “ripple.” The only way to stop it was to literally stop the enthusiasm. You can imagine the downward spiral on enthusiasm.

scholarship in public

Emerging Resonance?

This really thoughtful piece from Aeon is all about how we/our bodies respond to rhythms and other events without actually seeming to perceive them.

This passage really caught my attention:

But the experience of time involves more than just the perception of events occurring at a distance from us. We also experience time by instigating events through our actions, as well as encountering the actions of others. To relish the flow of a chat with a friend, or to feel the groove of a beat, is to have a distinctive kind of temporal experience where the observation of time becomes entwined with how one inhabits it – but in each case, the experience is less a matter of representing temporal structure than of entraining to it, resonating with it.

It makes me wonder how much of learning, in both formal and informal settings works like this. How do we respond to rhythms and patterns in the content and context about which we are not aware?And how much of  this potential “noise” really shapes what we learn and who we are?

scholarship in public

Learning as a social activity

This really interesting video of UK neuroscientist Sophie Scott has her discussing some really interesting research into conversation. It is pretty short (about 6 minutes) and very compelling. I need to check out the research she mentions. What I took away was that conversation is an act that goes beyond distinctions of signal and noise, of conveying information, and is more about establishing and maintaining social connections.

This made me think of how learning and education are also not solely (or even primarily) about signal and noise and conveying information. And, if that is the case, then the way we assess learning is too thin and one-dimensional and needs to be radically rethought.

For more, see Dr. Scott’s TED Talk on why we laugh.

Image from Aeon.

scholarship in public

How is this not an #edtech allegory?

Cory Doctorow posted this story the other day about librarians (always the heroes) gaming automatic book culling software.

It turns out these librarians were not entirely entranced with the sheer power and makingourliveseasier qualities of this recommendation software. They had the gall (and wisdom) to recognize that popularity might not be the only judge of quality.

All hail the librarians (again)!

As I was reading this piece, I could not help to think of the lack of similar stories about teachers taking the same kinds of action to ward off the unintended (?) consequences of #edtech robots teaching our children, all in the name of “personalized learning.”