Connectivism and Developing a Personal Learning Philosophy

I chose to study Web 2.0 tools and applications because I see interaction as the primary component of teaching and learning in the online environment – interaction with the material, interaction with the instructor/facilitator, and interaction among peers – and I believe that Web 2.0 tools facilitate and support that interaction as the methods for connecting.

Interaction is key to learning online.

From the perspective of connectivism, this interaction occurs in the web of a personal learning network which is not limited by the structure of organized learning. A personal learning network is our unique set of connections to people, to resources, to repositories of information. When a problem requires solving, our personal learning network of trusted colleagues and authenticated resources is where we turn. This is how we sort through the chaos and where we contribute our own unique perspectives.

As much as I appreciate the idea of connectivism, as a learning theory it assumes certain capabilities that are not actually ubiquitous. Connectivism can only apply to those who have the ability to connect and not every human on the planet has the hardware device and Internet connection available to participate.
 

OK, I am going to open myself up a bit here. I believe that learning – in the broadest sense – is synonymous with living.

Learning is key to life.

Learning is not a set of physiological processes or a collection of biological entities as life may be defined, but learning is what we think and believe and how we engage with the world around us. Interaction is what is happening when a person learns and our interpretation of that interaction becomes our evolving knowledge.

So, if interaction is key to learning – particularly learning online – and learning is key to life, then how do we reconcile the missing voices??

5 responses to “Connectivism and Developing a Personal Learning Philosophy

  1. Thank you for picking up my message, Pascal, and passing it along. :-)

  2. Thanks for the comments, John and Beth. Beth, I agree with you that the technologies of computer hardware, the World Wide Web, and the Internet are certainly not required for interaction or learning or the development of a learner support network and I did not mean to indicate otherwise. I would never intentionally state that people who either do not have access to these tools or who do not wish to use them cannot “still lead enriching lives with many geniuine learning experiences.” All of those activities/entities exist and belong outside cyberspace. However, when considering connectivism specifically, and the potential of such a learning theory or approach (whichever the reader believes it to be) to explain the process of learning and advance our efforts to become educated, we must consider the environment in which connectivism resides – and on which it relies – and that IS hardware devices, the World Wide Web, and the Internet.

    Personally, I think that connectivism is a valid approach/theory to explain the learning process when these tools and technologies are available and that, as you indicated, the learning community and personal learning network are no longer limited by proximity/geography when they are applied. Though I believe that the use of technologies in a connectivist approach affords the learner many advantages (e.g., access to experts, the most up-to-date information, and variety of perspectives), my intention was not to indicate that learners who lack access or who choose to avoid the use of these technologies do not have other learning opportunities available. When I referred to reconciling the missing voices, I meant that the practice of and discourse regarding connectivism will be incomplete until there is equal access.

    I apologize for the confusion and I hope that this clarification helps. :-)

  3. Beth Cerullo

    Although I agree that it greatly enables interaction at a broader level, I feel that technology is not essential for interaction. So those missing voices have other means of creating their personal learning networks: print resources, teachers, peers, community leaders…the same types of resources we all used before technology became so ubiquitous for most of us. I understand your point that their perspectives and learning opportunities are missing from the online world in which so many of us participate, and I agree that we should support programs that extend these types of opportunities to as many people as possible, but I think that those without technology can still lead enriching lives with many genuine learning experiences.

  4. Deb, it is a personal learning philosophy! Distance education and Web 2.0 have been a gateway to learning for me. Implementing the Web 2.0 tools into my life has given me unlimited potential. I’m anxious to see what’s around the corner as I venture forward in this technological jungle. You state “When a problem requires solving, our personal learning network of trusted colleagues and authenticated resources is where we turn.” I recall saying to my brother, whenever I can’t figure something out I Google it. Hoping that he sees the light and joins the 21st century and the rest of his family in our social gatherings on the Internet. This leads me to quote you again, as you explain “Connectivism can only apply to those who have the ability to connect and not every human on the planet has the hardware device and Internet connection available to participate”. My brother who is fairly intelligent, is missing out on a part of our new world and “learning is living”. This is a head scratcher for me as he is very comfortable with working technical equipment. Once again, “So, if interaction is key to learning and learning is key to life, then how do we reconcile the missing voices??