#CCK11 – Does Connectivism Help Us Face Modern Super-Complexity

Are you confused by all the different theories of learning?  Welcome to the ailments of the world of modernity.  This is the subject of an interesting article: University Knowledge in an Age of Supercomplexity by Ronald Barnet.  In this article he states:

The modern world is supercomplex in character: it can be understood as a milieu for the proliferation of frameworks by which we might understand the world, frameworks that are often competing with each other.  In such an age of supercomplexity, the university has new knowledge functions: to add to supercomplexity by offering completely new frames of understanding (so compounding supercomplexity); to help us comprehend and make sense of the resulting knowledge mayhem; and to enable us to live purposefully amid supercomplexity.

In other words, the variety of perspectives (theories) creates supercomplexity.  New perspectives (theories) are still needed, but instead of making things even worse by only adding to complexity,  they should recognize supercomplexity and should be constructed in a way to help us make sense of and live purposely amid this complexity.  Barnet calls it a therapeutic pedagogy offering:

(A) purposive equilibrium in the face of radical uncertainty and contestability.  . . . It does so by allowing space for meanings to come from within the person.

A therapeutic pedagogy offers a chance of recovering the self.  It looks back to that which was suppressed (by radical uncertainty) but also looks forward to new realizations of being.

So my question is;

does connectivism help us to make sense of all the different ideas on learning and education, or is it just another source of complexity and uncertainty?

Barnet does help by giving us a list of epistemological requirements for future frameworks.

An age of supercomplexity, accordingly, calls for nothing less from the university than an epistemology for uncertainty. It has, as we have seen, four elements:

  1. The capacity for revolutionary reframing;

  2. The capacity for critical interrogation of all claimants for knowledge and understanding;

  3. The capacity for enabling individuals to feel at ease in an uncertain world

  4. The capacity for developing powers of critical action.

Managing Relationships, Supporting Performance

Interesting NY Times opinion piece today that extends my recent posts on validity and performance management.  It is entitled: Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You, By Samuel Culbert.  In that article he states:
In my years studying (performance) reviews, I’ve learned that they are subjective evaluations that measure how “comfortable” a boss is with an employee, not how much an employee contributes to overall results.
Samuel Culbert in this statement leads us to believe the problem with performance reviews is their subjective nature.  From a measurement perspective I believe this is incorrectly stated.  The problem is one of validity, that performance measurements typically measure the bosses level of  comfort with an employee, not their performance.  Greater objectivity will not help us if comfort is still the construct being measured.  Instead we must look at validity.
Culbert proposes a performance preview process as an alternative.
It’s something I call the performance preview. Instead of top-down reviews, both boss and subordinate are held responsible for setting goals and achieving results. . . . bosses are taught how to truly manage, and learn that it’s in their interest to listen to their subordinates to get the results . . . “Tell me your problems as they happen; we’re in it together and it’s my job to ensure results.” . . . . It encouraged supervisors to act as coaches and mentors.  . . . But understand that the performance review makes it nearly impossible to have the kind of trusting relationships in the workplace that make improvement possible.
This preview process may be a good idea in and of itself, but it does not logically get at the root problem.  Measurement within this new process can have just as many validity problems as the old process.  This is why validity is important.
Two additional things I’m thinking:
Culbert doesn’t quite get there, but I sense he is looking at something like Action Analytics, measurement tied to real-time feedback that can support performance while performance is still in formation.  Instead of measurement in the service of performance review it is measurement in the service of performance support.
The second thought is this.  The central point in Culbert’s process is trust between an employee and a boss, that is, a management relationship.  This is the central construct in successful management and it may be important to measure.
This leads me to an interesting final conclusion and maybe a management axiom:
In managing people, we management relationships, but support their performance.