Sunday, October 05, 2008

CCK08 paper - Are we there yet?

I have been reading OLDaily for several years so I am familiar with
some of Stephen's thinking. As he frequently includes and comments on
the posts of George as well as other eduResearch notables like David
Wiley and Dave Cormier, much of what we are calling Connectivism isn't

It has been interesting to participate in a MOOC. The potential of the
web for teaching and learning was evident from my earliest encounter.
Parvati Dev, the Director of SUMMIT - Stanford University Medical
School's group that was innovating in the use of all sorts of
technologies to support student learning, had access to the world wide
web and an early copy of Mozilla. This was in the spring of 1994. HTML
was easy for those of us with a programming background and experience
with other Markup Languages - GML, SGML. Add links to documents and
images anywhere on earth, and WOW!

The evolution from scientist-publishers to professional site
developers was a step backwards in some respects. When the web was
about scientists sharing research papers as text and graphs, so long
as the presentation was neat and readily available, everyone was
happy. The connections were there, and everyone got back to work with
access to information that would have taken years to access via the
traditional means of peer reviewed journals and academic conference
presentations. Then along came the marketing folks - it was all about
image and fancy formats and breathtakingly gorgeous splash screens.
Citizen publishing essentially disappeared for many years.

But all that has changed. We have social networks, blogs for all,
Fickr, Twitter, Digg and Second Life. But more importantly, we have
Wikipedia, OpenCourseware, Connexions and WikiEducator. Finally, we
are back on track to get some serious kick-ass learning going here.

While working on my Masters in Education (with a specialization in
Online Teacjing and Learning) at CSU East Bay (formerly known as CSU
Hayward), we reviewed a lot of learning theories. There are several
sites that list hundreds of these so the need for YALT
(yet-another-learning-theory) isn't a high priority. While I think it
is fine that lots of folks are having a lovely time in esoteric
arguments about the minutia, I'm just as happy to be running with the
little dogs who are off leveraging "it" - whatever Connectivism is,
and exploring practical applications and going out and building stuff.

The Connectivism course is both a learning experience and a dynamic
model of connectivism as I understand it. Lots of people are
connecting and learning. There is a general knowledge space - mostly
to do with education and learning, but brain science, psychology,
neural networking, management, academic administration, information
systems, learning management systems, instructional design, marketing,
communications, cool new technologies, and gaming all have their
places. This may be messy but it clearly demonstrated the ideas and
reality of Connectivism.

As someone who made it through the traditional education system, as
much by good fortune as anything, I am right out front helping to make
alternative learning experiences available to anyone and everyone who
is not well served by the current status quo in formal academic
education in North America today. It has been clear from the outset
that the internet provided the tools and infrastructure that could be
important elements to facilitating these changes when the time came.
It has taken surprisingly long for a critical mass to "get it" but now
we are on a roll, I think. Sure, there are many outstanding questions,
but they will be addressed in time. In the meantime, real progress is
being made on all fronts. Thanks to Stephen and George, as well as
Leigh, and the Dave's, and everyone involved in the Connectivism

What all of this demonstrates is that it really does take all kinds to
make a world. It is very exciting to be part of this adventure. It is
good to be working with literally hundreds of wonderful people who
care about the world and its people, who want to make communities
everywhere inclusive and empowering. It is great being part of the
solution called Connectivism.

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