Looking at the mind map illustrated in the previous post, I’m sure many of you can think of more ways than I have mapped out regarding how you are connected to different networks that help you in your career, while you learn, or socially. Connectivism acknowledges that as technology progresses, the manner in which we obtain information changes as well. George Siemens describes connectivism as,”… the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories” (2004). To gain more knowledge on how connectivism works in laymen terms, we are going to look at the various entities that are included in my network and explore the following:
- How has your network changed the way you learn
- Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?
- How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?
- In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?
Networks and Learning
My learning has changed over the years as I have added new connections to my network. If I have a question and want to get an answer quickly, I easily grab my phone and go to Google! Any information that I need I can obtain. Before I decided to go back to school, I would turn to my LinkedIn groups to find out what other trainers are doing to ensure I am abreast on the ever-changing trends in instructional design. In my position as an instructional designer, it is important to understand what is occurring in the Human Services industry and my organization to ensure that I am able to identify opportunities for training . Participating and sitting on committees within my organization allow me to learn how I can better position training and development to support organizational initiatives.
Technology has provided advancements in training to streamline efficiencies and ensure that individuals can obtain information, increase productivity, and maintain cost effectiveness. Tools that best facilitate learning for me would be resources such as Google, LinkedIn, and the Online University where I currently attend. All of these resources provide a platform that allows me to either find or share information. The exchange of content allows me to connect to others where we are all able to learn from each other and directly correlate the information to our field of work and study. As we acquire new connections and maintain existing ones it is important to understand the flow of the content and relevance of its nature in connection to what is going on currently. If information is obtained on the internet, an individual must analyze whether or not the information is relevant to current events and trends.
“Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical”(Siemens 2004).
So as we continue on our quest to learn, we must be sure to carefully differentiate good and bad data.
Where to Find Information
Think about the way in which you obtain information and how your network provides the content. Having the ability to find information in a timely manner is beneficial in learning. I spoke earlier about my ability to use Google whenever I need to find information, if I am looking for a source for academic research, I can use my university’s online library. Having the ability to search for articles, journals, and ebooks is conducive to my busy schedule and less time-consuming than running to my local library searching through a card catalog or microfilm. Within my organization, if I am looking for particular information to help with developing content for a training, I have subject matter experts that I can depend on for up to date information. When it comes to technological resources, knowing where to find information is more important than actually knowing the information. When it comes to people, learning how to cultivate relationships is key to having subject matter experts in your network.
Is Your Network for You or Against You?
When learning about connectivism, there are five central tenets that are conducive to learning:
1.Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
2. Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
3. Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
4. Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
5. Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning
Looking at the connections in my mind map, the resources that I use to learn supports the tenets of connectivism. For example, when I participate in discussions in my LinkedIn groups or discussion groups in class, I am able to share and collect information and learn from diversity of opinions. Also, I am able to collect information from specialized resources that may or may not come from non-human appliances. RSS feeds allow me to stay readily connected to information being that it is extremely important for me to stay abreast on the latest trends which includes the need to maintain or enhance my relationships with my human resources to ensure there is a flow or exchange of information among my connections within my network.
Siemens, George (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved October 10,2010 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm