Connectivism, scholarship in public

#EL30 MOOC, Take 2

Back in October, I began participating a the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC organized by Stephen Downes. While I got a lot out of participating in the MOOC, I never did all the work I wanted to do.

But this is why I am so interested in this work:

“Connectivism is based on the idea that knowledge is essentially the set of connections in a network, and that learning therefore is the process of creating and shaping those networks.” [This last piece has shaped a good deal of my own research over the past few years.]

Going back to the beginning and Stephen’s brief introduction to the MOOC, I am struck by this:

“The learning in a connectivist course is emergent; it is not defined and transferred or transmitted; rather it is created through the process of individual experiences and interactions. It is something new, different for each person in the course, and in a broader, more social sense, an outcome of the course as a whole.”

So, I have decided to start again and get back into the course. My plan is to do one topic per week. Anyone want to join me?

Connectivism, scholarship in public

E-Learning 3.0 So Far

For the past few weeks, I have been participating in Stephen Downes’ cMOOC, E Learning 3.0.

So far, the course has addressed some really interesting and, I think, important topics, such as Data, Cloud, Graphs, and Identity. And Stephen has been addressing them in ways that are surprising and provocative. For instance, he discussed Identity as a philosophical issue. But it was embedded (all puns intended) in issues of trust and security from a technological perspective (encryption and block chain, for example). I had never made the connection between who I consider myself to be (my identity) and the expression of who I consider myself to be writ via the internet and the ramifications of security and trust. I hate to say it, but my mind was blown.

As an aside, I was engaged with these concepts and materials whilst stuck in my car in a snow storm for hours last week. I am sure my own sense of physical isolation really made these concepts come alive in so many ways. Serendipity indeed.

All of these ideas have been vitally important to me. As a teacher and education researcher, I am very interested in learning environments that can result in the emergence and evolution of personal learning networks. I know that self determination, authentic learning experiences, and openness are central to these networks. And this course is my way of deepening my understanding of all of this.

Despite being fully engaged by the course, I cannot shake the feeling that I have been doing it wrong. Because I have not watched every video, done every task, responded to every blog post. You get the picture.

I believe that this discomfort is somehow central to what I need to learn here. So, I will keep hanging in there.




Connectivism, scholarship in public

Identity – Mine (at least partially)

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

Stephen really surprised me by connecting graphs (which I thought I understood) with trust (as in trusted networks and connections — and BitCoin) and identity.

This week’s task (really, it was the task was last week or the week before, but I am working on it), was to create a identity graph for ourselves.

Here is mine. Thanks to Mattias for his tool Thought Condensr.

ga identity

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.”


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

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?