Sunday, 21 September 2008

Connecting connectivism

The article Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge has been really valuable for me in understanding the ideas behind connectivism a lot better. It is a bit of a read, but in my opinion well worth the time and attention.

What resonated particularly well for me, is the idea of building an emergentist theory of learning. I have always preferred a holistic approach to understanding. One of the major weaknesses in our 'Western' view of the world is the idea that we can understanding everything by reducing it to it's component parts. I suppose it is something that developed with my long term practice of Chinese martial arts and philosophy. More recently I have found tremendous value in 'system thinking' as described by Peter Senge in his book 'The Fifth Discipline'. In this book Senge criticises the reductionist approach to running businesses such as our obsession with KPI's and the like. I think I'm starting to realise that connectivism really is based on similar principles, applied to learning.

Reflecting further on connectivism, and in particular on the idea of 'levels of knowing', there are several other things falling into place as well. I have been a fan of the SOLO taxonomy ever since being introduced to it by Graham Gibbs about 3 years ago. For me it makes so much more sense then the archaic taxonomy of Bloom. It classifies levels of understanding by the amount of connections that a learner makes, and the broadness of those connections (for instance into other domains of knowledge). It seems to me to be an excellent reflection of how learning would develop according to the connectivist model.

So after a somewhat sceptical start, I must say that I'm beginning to warm to some of the ideas behind connectivism. I do still think some of the theory and arguments behind it need more refinement, and perhaps that is something I should try and articulate over the next few weeks to help this discussion along. For the moment though many of the ideas are still somewhat in the 'primordial soup' stage, and so I will give myself a few weeks before venturing down that path further.

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