Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rethinking Epistemology

I started this week’s CCK08 course work thinking – ‘what the heck is ‘epistemology’ and discovered that it is ‘the study of knowledge

So …

What new knowledge have I formed since learning about the study of knowledge?

How did I form this knowledge?

How does this new knowledge formation link to learning theory of Connectivism?

What knowledge have I formed since learning about the study of knowledge?

I’ve learnt a new word – ‘epistemology’ – and I can even spell it too.

I’ve learnt that just like carbon can ‘morph’ into coal, diamonds or graphite, dependent on how the environment has caused the carbon atoms to connect, knowledge is formed dependent on the way we connect with our environment and our networks.

Traditionally, information has been ‘controlled’ by those who had the power to present, print, or publicise it – forming a ‘gate-keeper’ approach to knowledge – whereby information was released into the environment by a selective and controlled means. However, the onslaught of information via the internet has allowed individuals to connect, create and collaborate in the development of knowledge in a completely different way. People are no longer restricted to the propaganda of their restrictive information sources. The internet has allowed the democrasisation of knowledge, widening our environments through online social networks, to an avalanche of information and new knowledge formation

How did I form this knowledge?

My new knowledge has been formed through ‘networks’ – neurological networks in my brain, and through environmental networks in the ecology of my surroundings.

New neurological networks have been formed, connected to previous understandings of ‘knowledge’ and ‘networks’ to form a new understanding of ‘knowledge’.

The exposure to information through George, Stephen and Dave’s resources – as well as my online learning network, like Twitter, when Mike Bogle - #CCK08 Fantastic post by Sinikka on nodes and connections -” last Friday – has also contributed to this new understanding.

How does this knowledge formation link to learning theory of Connectivism?

What I’ve realised by raising this question is that I don’t really yet understand the learning theory of Connectivism, as I’m finding it hard to find the connection between my new knowledge and the theory of Connectivism. Except to say that learning or knowledge is like the weather – it’s always changing and a little unpredictable due to its interconnection with its environment – and by understanding how the connections and networks of my environment allows me to formulate new knowledge by being exposed to a diverse range of networks – my learning/knowledge development this week has occurred because of the way I have ‘connected’ with my Connectivism learning environment, and if I had chosen a different way to interact with my learning networks, by reading different resources, entering into the online discussions, or reading the blogs written by other CCK08 participants about ‘Rethinking Epistemology’ then I would have changed the final output of my new knowledge.

CCK08 - week 2 – Rethinking epistemology – Connective knowledge


“The branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge; theory of knowledge; A particular theory of knowledge”

Presentations and Papers

Types of Knowledge and Connective Knowledge - Stephen Downes

Video introduction to Week 2 (George Siemens)


Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge - Stephen Downes

Shifting Knowledge (from Knowing Knowledge) – George Siemens

Rhizomatic Knowledge (Dave Cormier) - free registration to Innovate is required to read the article.

Additional Readings

Rethinking Learning (.pdf)

An Introduction to Connective Knowledge - Stephen Downes

Other useful resources for This week:

Epistemology - Skids

CCK08 – random connections of today - Sinikka

Notes from readings:

Where does the learning occurs?? George Siemens

“…learning exists in the process of sensemaking”

Types of Knowledge and Connective Knowledge - Stephen Downes

“Qualitative knowledge is knowledge typically derived from the senses.” Ie “the qualities of the object”

“Quantitative knowledge is derived from the practices of counting and measuring.”

“These two types of knowledge combine the best of human capacities: our ability to perceive, to sense the world, and our ability to calculate, to think about the world. They form the foundation for language, the foundation for logic, and the foundation for all of the sciences we have had up to today.”

“Summary: Three types of knowledge
- of the senses (empirical)
- of quantity (rationalist)
- of connections (connective)”

“connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections”

Carbon can make ‘coal, diamonds & graphite’ dependent on how the carbon atoms are ‘connected’

“It is knowledge about how such connections are created, and what impact, or effect, such a system of connections has.”

Knowledge can be different dependent on its connections – knowledge shared by the media is presented in a way in which the media organisation wants you to ‘connect’ with that information ie Fox News provides a type of knowledge which presents a ‘Rupert Murdoch’ view of the world

“*any* set of connected objects can contain information” but its how a person connects with those objects which will determine how they understand the objects

“Summary: Connective knowledge is both:
- knowledge OF networks in the world
- knowledge obtained BY networks”

“There are many types of networks, and therefore, many types of connective knowledge.”

One Network: - human brain – collection of neurons

Another Network – Society – collection of humans

Person – node in a network – connected to the nodes (people) = social network

Knowing/Understanding how networks work helps us create better networks

Does this mean that by changing the ‘networks’ you are changing the knowledge?

Video introduction to Week 2 (George Siemens)

What is a network – characteristics or attributes of a network?

Complexity science – Chaos and randomness

Power and control are critical concepts in the discussion of education/theory of learning

Tools (technology) at our disposal allow us to have a democracy to access information

Epistemology: – what is knowledge? – what is knowledge in a connected world? – in a networked world? What is the human mind and what role does it play in creating knowledge? Are we in a post-epistemology era?

We are in an era defined by knowledge – we ‘externalise’ our thoughts – can become the building blocks of knowledge – knowledge actually resides in the connections – shared manner of interacting with those concepts – information is the building blocks of knowledge – there are different views of knowledge – view of knowledge is so diverse

Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge - Stephen Downes

“the learning of knowledge - is distributive, that is, not located in any given place (and therefore not 'transferred' or 'transacted' per se) but rather consists of the network of connections formed from experience and interactions with a knowing community.”

'e-learning 2.0' – net generation – thinking and interacting in new ways – based on conversation and interaction, on sharing, creation and participation, - learning not as a separate activity – but embedded in meaningful activities

Learning is like the weather –never the same and a little unpredictable due to its interconnection with its environment

Shifting Knowledge (from Knowing Knowledge) – George Siemens

“Knowledge has broken free from its mooring, its shackles”

“Knowledge is the economy”

“Human existence is a quest to understand”

We live as an integrated experience—we see, know, and function in connections. Life, like knowing, is not an isolated activity”

“we create structures to hold our knowledge: hierarchies, books, libraries, encyclopedias, the internet, search engines. We create spaces where we can dialogue about and enact knowledge: corporations, organizations, schools, universities, societies. And we create tools to disseminate knowledge: peer-review journals, discussion panels, conferences”

“The last decade has fundamentally re-written how we:” consume information and create knowledge

Knowledge set free enables dynamic, adaptive, and personalized experiences.”

“Yochai Benkler …. Information, knowledge, and culture are central to human freedom and human development”

“We are in the in-between stage of” … an industrial era and a knowledge era

We do not consume knowledge as a passive entity that remains unchanged as it moves through our world and our work. We dance and court the knowledge of others—in ways the original creators did not intend. We make it ours, and in so doing, diminish the prominence of the originator.”

“Our quadratic existence runs through spheres of interconnection. Cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual domains of knowledge interact in a myriad of ways. Life is not lived in a silo”

“Schools, universities, and corporations attempt to serve dissemination processes of knowledge-in-containers.”

At the End of Week Two – Stephen Downes

“People didn’t really like the coal analogy.”

“I personally think of connectivism as a theory of knowledge”

“ … any sensory input produces knowledge.”

Rhizomatic Knowledge (Dave Cormier)

A rhizomatic plant has no center and no defined boundary; rather, it is made up of a number of semi-independent nodes, each of which is capable of growing and spreading on its own, bounded only by the limits of its habitat (Cormier 2008).”

a rhizomatic model of learning … knowledge is negotiated, and the learning experience is a social as well as a personal knowledge creation process with mutable goals and constantly negotiated premises.”

“In the rhizomatic model of learning, curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning in the same way that the rhizome responds to changing environmental conditions”

“the rhizomatic model dispenses with the need for external validation of knowledge, either by an expert or by a constructed curriculum”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What is 'Connectivism'?

I think I understand Connectivism as a theory – but I’m not sure I truly understand how to apply Connectivism to a range of learning situation – I’m not sure Connectivism can be considered to be a ‘separate or independent’ learning theory but more of a means by which knowledge and information can be aggregated and shared.

I understand the power of the network and can think of many examples in my work place where I rely upon my networks to help me aggregate the avalanche of information we receive – I know that if I miss anything which is relevant to me, eventually someone in our organisation will tell me about this missing piece of knowledge.

I know that staying networked through Twitter, blogs, communities of practice, learning circles, and friends – has certainly widen my access to information and I often use the aggregate of all of these networked peoples’ knowledges and experiences to construct my own understanding and opinions. I can see how technology has widen my participation in creating and contributing my own new knowledge as it allows me to access a wider base of ideas and concepts. However, I have a ‘lust for learning’.

I’m not sure however if ‘connectivism’ as an independent learning theory can facilitate the development of new knowledge in others, but perhaps provide a means to support the ability to access new information.

Through my experience as an educator, I’ve found individuals often don’t know how to independently formulate their own learning/knowledge ie they often don’t know how to:

- formulate questions
- search and filter information
- assemble and convert information it into new knowledge
- use or understand the power of networked learning to build and share their new knowledge or have it validated

These processes require higher order thinking and understanding about how we learn and most people don’t conscientiously evaluate how they learn and heavily rely on trained / knowledgeable individuals to structure or ‘construct’ that learning.

My observations of humans is that they are often sheep or sponges as they follow and soak up what they are ‘fed’ – rarely questioning their environments and networks – staying within their ‘strong’ ties, too scared, skeptical or inexperienced to move into the realm of ‘weak’ networks for fear of the unknown, unable to conceptualise the power of widen networks – particularly online networks. Developing or constructing the right kinds of networks is also a developed and conscience skill.

Although I’m a little skeptical about ‘connectivism’ as a learning theory in its own right – I believe its principles provide an individual with a means of making sense of their interconnected but disconnected world, where multi-media and technology provides access, as well as the ability to create and change information, – and building the ‘right’ network to gather the right information ie being socially networked, is a valuable and desirable skill to filter the ever increasing avalanche of information in the knowledge era – as well as help create independent and creative thinkers.

It’s creating the right kinds of learning opportunities by which an individual will be able to foster and develop these skills and not stay in their ‘little boxes’ using ‘connectivism’ which is what I’m hoping this course will help me better understand.

CCK08 - week 1 - What is 'connectivism'?

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Course
George Siemens and Stephen Downes are facilitating this MOOC (massive open online course).

The Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online website contains all of the information and links to participate in the course.

Pre-course preparation included an ‘Articulate’ presentation by George, introducing the structure of the course and some of the ‘expectations’.

Week 1 – What is ‘connectivism’?
Is it a learning theory? How does it differ from constructivism? Is it descriptive or prescriptive? Or is it fraud (comment #18)?

Readings for This Week
Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism (.pdf)
Bill Kerr - Critique of connectivism

Other useful resources for This Week
14 minute presentation: What is connectivism? By George
Does connectivism add something not covered by existing theories of learning?

How does Connectivism differ from other learning theories?
Viplav Baxi – ‘CCK08 – What is learning theory?

Notes from readings:
Downes, “Connectivism and its Critics; What Connectivism is not”, (10.09.09)
“learning it is not structured, controlled or processed”

Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism:
“Glocalization” is a neologism meaning the combination of intense local and
extensive global interaction

Relationships are more selective. Networks now contain high proportions of people who enjoy one other. They contain low proportions of people who are forced to interact with each other because they are juxtaposed in the same neighborhood, kinship group, organization, or workplace.

Knowing how to network (on and offline) becomes a human capital resource.

networked individualism - People remain connected, but as individuals rather than being rooted in the home bases of work unit and household

no real reference to ‘online social networks’ like Facebook & mySpace

our means of connecting has changed – little boxes, glocalisation, networked individual

interconnected & disconnected world

avalanche of information – knowing how to filter information through out networks is so important – building the ‘right’ network for the right information ie socially networked is a valuable skill

What is the Unique Idea in Connectivism?
All ideas have a heritage. All concepts have roots.

As Barabasi states, networks are everywhere. We just need an eye for them.

What connectivism is
You need to grant the learner autonomy within the environment
'to teach is to model and demonstrate, to learn is to practice and reflect.'

Learning Theory or Pastime of the Self-Amused?
connectivism …. network-based learning

Bill Kerr - Critique of connectivism“Technology should be like oxygen--ubiquitous, transparent, and necessary”

: What is connectivism? 14 minute presentation by George
5 principles to confirm the foundation of any learning theory:
– need to externalize to make sense
- frameworks and structures for sense making
- need to socialise & negotiate around knowledge
- note & recognizing ‘patterns’
- desire to extend our humanity through technology

Connectivism - networked learning – knowledge is networked and distributed in nature – knowing is a particular state of connectedness – developing knowledge is complex and chaotic – to better understand learning we need to better understand why and how connections form – and use this to design classrooms/learning

Types of network learning
- neural-biological – learning is the formation of new neural connections,
- conceptual – depth of understanding – relationships between concepts & ideas – related to existing understanding of knowledge/information
- external -social – how we connect with others and information

Connections create meaning

Learning – ability to understand is related to how well and how consistently we are connected to certain ideas and concepts – how often we come across a concept and how they are connected – strong & weak ties – new information comes from ‘weak’ ties due to difference to the individual’s ideals – foundation of networks to develop new knowledge

Networks of learning – technology increases our participation in the create of knowledge – anyone and everyone can create knowledge – increased abundance of knowledge – more voices of opinion – any idea or concept can be aired – simulate experiences