George Siemens presented “Roots of Connectivism” to our EC&I 831 group on September 29, 2009. George provided a basic understanding of various theories of knowledge & learning (e.g., behaviorism, cognitivism, social constructivism, constructionism, neuroscience) as he led us toward a theory of connectivism. I warned my students beforehand that the presentation would be theoretically heavy, and our presenter (no surprise) provided us with the challenge of (re)thinking of our assumptions on learning.
As an aside, a tweet from one of the participants summed up what I have noticed about George’s presentation style.
Greater detail of the presentation within the context of the course can be found at the EC&I 831 wiki. The presentation was facilitated via Elluminate and the recording of that session, including the chat, can be found at this location. Slidedeck and audio-only version (MP3) are available below. Enjoy!
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As a first point, I do agree that we learn as we participate, as we take part and specially when we take risks, but here comes the point “take risks”. As human beings we have a kind of self preservation sense– I do not know if I can use this term – and we – with some few exceptions – will never expose ourselves to certain situations/topics/people that we are not familiar/comfortable with. We sometimes try but as most of the experiences are not positive we give up at the first sign. It’s something that we are always discussing in our Sociolinguistics classes, I mean, our level of knowledge will vary according to the context we are in. For example, one doctor in a Portuguese teachers’ meeting would feel very very uncomfortable due to the kind of topics in the conversations. And this is absolutely normal, it doesn’t mean that he/she knows less or more but that he/she is in a different social context and of course this person would take more meaningful experiences if he/she were able to take risks. In this wonderful ECI831 meeting, for example, I acted as a lurker because I was enchanted about the topic but at the same time I was completely afraid of taking risks and making any stupid comment among the experts.
As a second point, I really like to think about ourselves as unique kind of connectors/neurons – maybe it is not an appropriated comparison – that have the incredible capacity to filter the information and recreate knowledge appropriated to our own social, historical context in an endless cycle: observing/learning reflecting —- concluding– acting/doing — interacting/connecting — learning….. and here comes the magical possibility of this connection with the world, with people that we would never meet in our lives. So, there is no end to the learning process. It is always the next work which will achieve the longed-for resolution. I mean our development – as learners, as educators, as human beings – is a continuous process of transforming our potential into human performance. And here enters the connectivism to feed this process, I mean, as “neurons”/ connectors we can see that our knowledge will depend enormously on that connection that we have with others, otherwise this knowledge will be obsolete due to the amount of information we are exposed now .This connection is fundamental to keep ourselves alive in terms of knowledge.
Concluding, I do agree with – I am not sure who said that, if Mr. Couros or somebody else –that “When you become transparent as a learner, you become a teacher”.
Congratulations for all of you for this inspiring course.