THe IRRODL e-Journal (International Review of Research on Open and Distance Learning) has released a Special Issue – Connectivism: Design and Delivery of Social Networked Learning (Vol 12 (3)). Though cck11 has officially ended, I am looking at these 9 articles as a continuation of my thought on the validity of Connectivism (4 articles are considered in this post, the remaining 5 in a part 2 post.). These are not meant to be reviews, but rather my impression of what I consider to be important points raised by my reading of these authors. I encourage all to follow links to the original. All articles are worthwhile additions to the connectivism literature.
Emergent Learning and Learning Ecologies in Web 2.0 by Roy Williams, Regina Karousou & Jenny Mackness
Roy et al state that the information age is being overtaken by the interactive age in that simple data transfer is now accompanied by interaction, collaboration and emergent learning. There are questions that that these changes foreground: what structure and constraints support learning ecologies that can support this type of learning, how is the resulting knowledge validated and can prescriptive and emergent learning co-exist together. There currently are institutions and frameworks that support web learning ecologies like Open Source and Creative Common Licensing, and cloud-based applications, but more pluralistic learning ecologies are needed. These questions will continue to be at the forefront of building validity for Connectivist practices.
Frances states that Connectivism is not a sufficient stand-alone theory to guide a wide range of technology enabled learning projects, though he does acknowledge that we need new models for learning. I would agree, but I don’t expect any theory to capture every perspective. Instead I would look to include the ideas of other theories to expand upon and extend the ideas of Connectivism. My personal belief is that many academic research projects that look into practices are based on rather narrow (and therefore weak) theoretical structures. Strong structures are only developed by inter-relating multiple theories that address different levels and understandings of practice. Many of these articles in this issue do just this type of theoretical development.
Note – Bell contrast blog supported Connectivism with Peer Review supports Actor_Network theory. While this is basically correct, what it points to is the inadequate and slow moving nature of peer review, which is ill-suited to a fast moving interconnected world. Peer review is more suited to the interests of the publishing industry and the academic hierarchy than it is in supporting knowledge building in connected world of practice. Validation of knowledge is important, but new practices are needed beyond traditional peer review and publishing practices.
Proposing an Integrated Research Framework for Connectivism: Utilizing Theoretical Synergies by Bopelo Boitshwarelo
Bopelo moves on to connects other theories in a “functional synergistic relationship” with Connectivism. Specifically he considers Design-based Research, Activity Theory and Communities of Practice (Situated Cognition). Not only can these theories extend our understanding in Connectivism, but they also provide methodological examples for how to approach research. He details a Connectivist informed case study, but I think that this study (based in the WebCT) might not be the best environment for evaluating Connectivism as most implementations of learning management systems are not recognized as the most innovative environments for collaborative web learning.
Andrew claim a social constructivist perspective, although I find his ideas include a broad understanding that includes a deep understanding of social cultural theory (Vygotsky), the dialogue theory (Bakhtin), and knowledge building (Beretier).
So this article argues for greater attention upon, and the pedagogical shaping of , the learning dialogue process within network learning spaces (and) . . .without a reworking of attested dialogue theory into more open and ambient pedagogies we will be less successful in converting mega-social interaction into mega-meaning making and learning. . . .shouldn’t our endeavors still fully appreciate the role of language and dialogus as our oldest and arguably still most powerful semiotic System.
In my last post I mentioned Zhuge’s active dynamic nature of knowledge flows. The root of these flows is also meaning-making or sense-making as discussed by theorist like Jerome Brunner. In a quote of Bakhtin, Andrew points out that meaning, in the final analysis, is not a result of Hegalian logic, but rather comes from the clash of voices in dialogue. I think this is compatible with Connectivism’s view of learning.