I totally agree with what you are saying
and made it through what you were saying!!(I hope). I guess the other
point in all of this is having the skill to determine what you know and
why you know it through the connections that you make. It is individual
and it all comes down to the notion that even if you think somebody
'knows' in the same way as you, I can guarantee that they don't. Do you
think that even when we had the teacher as the font of all knowledge that
each of the students had exactly the same knowledge or did they also have
all those influencing factors of culture, perception, emotion etc etc??
Thanks for getting me going in this forum...was getting a bit overwhelmed
with it all!!
Oh my Geoff... Making me think before I have finished my
first coffee of the morning! Bear that in mind with my
Knowledge and understanding are shared through our connections.
By connecting through an iPhone and Twitter I may find the information
more accessible as it is on the go, in my own time and place. I will
also have the opportunity of more connections as I can discuss the
findings with my contacts -- sharing and working with the ideas.
Looks like learning to me!
If I go to the library and conduct research on MacBeth, I won't
necessarily have that sharing and consolidation. The knowledge I
receive will be static unless I am lucky enough to find someone there with
whom to share my newfound knowledge.
I can conduct a very effective search for material in a library -- I
use the same skills when searching on the net. That gets me the
'stuff'. The connections occur when I include others in my
process. That is how I make the knowledge mine. Just like this
Time for that second cup
And to add to that Ruth...it individualises the experience for the learner
far more than Constructivism!!
Good to see you in form here!!
I should have been slightly clearer, and said "Fitness of entities of a
given type may or may not be based on connections with other entities of
Obviously, I was not discussing the survival of
empties in a vacuum-universe devoid of all entities whatsoever. That would
be a very uncharitable reading of my argument.
If there is no entity around, how do I survive?
breathing air, eating animals and plants, drinking water...
It was better to hunt in groups than alone, chances of survival were
It depends on what sort of entity you are.
Entities that are cannibal (and that includes human cannibals) will find
it less good to hunt in groups. Entities that depend on stealth, surprise
and cunning (and that also includes some humans) will find it less good to
hunt in groups.
If you move our of the forest and onto the plains,
then for entities like humans, it is probably better to remain in groups.
since there's no way to outrun or hide from opponents. With the onset of
agriculture this group behaviour is cemented as a social norm.
the environment, though, and evolution runs a very different course.
Consider a threat to the beehive, one bee is helpless, the swarm is a
whole different story.
Perhaps. But if would be
incorrect to infer from the properties of bees - which are very unusual,
even for insects - to the properties of other entities.
The darwinian trait of speech prevailed because communicating gave an
advantage to the individual, and most possibly their group...
is not immediately apparent that speech is a 'darwinian trait'. Such a
supposition requires that humans have evolved some body part (presumably a
part of the brain) specifically for speech. But it is not clear that this
is the case.
Certainly, the capacity for speech
is innate - otherwise we would not be able to speak at all. But this
capacity may well be the result of a happy accident, rather than a
specific evolutionary adaptation.
Moreover, if we generalize to the
capacity for communication, which, unlike speech, is
a trait shared by many species, then it seems clear that this adaptation,
like social behaviour, depends on the specifics of the species and the
4) I don't think it is possible to separate
the outcome of the individual from the group. According to Paretto, the
global optimum is better than the sum of partial optimums, which would be
an ongoing environment cast over a darwinian survival of an individual
within a group.
OK, this is very unclear.
you say "the outcome of the individual..." what do you mean? They
earnings? Their life expectancy? And when you say "the global optimum" I
am again unclear on what you mean. These are terms that describe a
measurement, but we need to be clear about what is being measured.
is impossible to separate the needs of the individual from the group...
speaking, this is untrue. An individual needs air in order to survive. But
the group does not need air. Only the individuals within the group.
group, by contrast, may need something like a 'common vision' in order to
survive. But an individual does not need that common vision to survive.
best, "it is impossible to separate the needs of the individual from the
group" can only be understood in a metaphorical sense. But this would need
So I think there's quite a bit of clarification
that needs to be undertaken here.
Thanks for the clarifications. I think I tend to view
'need' as literal, and often correct people (especially young ones) who
use it in place of 'want' (I often correct a lot of things, and it is a
habit I am working towards getting out of!). I would agree that a tree, or
person, has certain needs. A person has 'wants' because these are the
things they desire, which implies a level of goal setting and self
awareness. In general, we do not ascribe these attributes to plants, or
often to other animals, unless we are anthropomorphising them.
with a society, or community, or network, the situation is less clear, in
my view. If we look at various theories of mind they suggest that the mind
comprises multiple modules, drafts, or in my terms, individual strands of
identity. Because we are naturally pattern matching creatures, we tend to
see similarity even when it isn't there, but in the case of comparison
between individual and community, I would argue the similarities are very
In the individual, is it possible that any of the 'wants'
demonstable in the whole exist without existing in any of the component
parts of the individual? If not, then it is valid to consider a community
as having 'wants' in the same way. I believe it would be compatible with
Dennet's Multiple Drafts model, for example, to regard the 'wants' of the
community as those which are foremost within it, either through majority
or through a dominant voice and lack of dissent.
If the individual has
'wants' (or needs) which are not in turn wants or needs of component
parts, we are looking at an emergent property in a complex system. In my
view, it would be naive to think that the same sorts of processes which
can produce these in the individual are not, or can not, be present in a
community of individuals - if the communication links, and therefore
feedback loops, between those individuals are sufficient. The individual
and the community are analogues of one another, to a fairly high degree of
similarity - and this should be no surprise given community is made up of
individuals and individuals develop within community.
epiphenomenalist view suggests that mental events have no impact on the
physical aspects of the brain. I would argue that this is neither any
more, or less, true in community. Conscious awareness of what we do lags
behind our actual actions, so I have some sympathy with epiphenomenalism,
but the same can be seen within community. The awareness of the community
can be thought of as relating to a certain level of awareness of the
consituent parts - in the same way that it can be within the individual
mind - and this will lag behind the activities and actions of the
community itself. Indeed, unless there is some spooky emergent property
which allows the community to see slightly in to the future, this must be
so because the community is made up of the individuals, and they only
become aware of the actions after the event.
On the other hand, we
certainly like to think of our conscious minds having control. If we
assume, for the moment, that this is the case, what reason is there to
think that there is no equivalent in a community, apart from our own
egocentric view that we as individuals are the fundamental unit in the
system? I know this sounds rather 'new age' 'universal consciousness', but
it is actually really hard to see reasons for it not
to be the case.
In terms of evolution, I would argue that the
easiest way for social creatures to evolve is if there is an advantage to
cooperating. Evolution is a wonderfully simple mechanism, and whilst
unnecessary traits can emerge and be maintained, they do not last for very
long unless strongly linked to a genuine need, or unless they are
inconsequential. Is it reasonable to equate something which provides an
advantage with something which is a need? I think so - advantage is a
superclass of need, especially if the primary motivation (at a genetic
level) is self replication. Anything which promotes this is, in effect, a
need because it helps fulfill the primary goal - it provides insurance
against a changing environment which, in the longer term helps to secure
the continuance of the individual gene-line.
Bringing that idea back to
society and community, there is a need for diversity. Having tightly
focussed skill-sets within a community is fine as long as the environment
in which it operates is relatively static, but when change is imposed from
outside, a community will fail unless it has sufficient diversity to
accomodate the change, adapt, and exploit a new niche in the future.
has a major strength in that it recognises and exploits the diversity in a
network. However, if dominant voices persuade the vast majority to think
or act in specific ways, the diversity of the ecology is diminished and
the network becomes vulnerable to environmental change. This is a problem
with education as a whole - if you set curriculum at a national (or worse,
global) level, whether through legislation or peer pressure, you are
producing a system which is less adaptible and more brittle. Small errors
also tend to become magnified over time, and spread throughout the system.
Is it not reasonable to regard it as a 'need' of the network that this
should be avoided? Or is the self-perpetuation of the whole not a concern
for the individuals which make it up?
First,> it seems to contradict your assertion that
"Entities that are cannibal (and that includes human cannibals) will find
it less good to hunt in groups."
I was not
asserting a universal generalization. To make that clear, read my sentence
"Entities that are cannibal (and that includes human
find it less good to hunt in groups."
a similar, my example regarding hunters that use stealth was in no way
meant to imply that all
animals that use stealth hunt
alone - that would be an absurd and incorrect reading of my statement.
examples were simply that - examples. It is quite uncharitable to treat
them as anything other than that.
Second,> On the
matter of inferring from one type of entity to others, such as from the
bee to other social creatures
My objection was not to
inferring from one type of entity to another, it was an objection to
inferring from bees
to another. That's why I asserted
that bees are very unusual.
Recall that the original statement was,
"Consider a threat to the beehive, one bee is helpless, the
swarm is a whole different story."
status of a bee when isolated from the hive is very different from that of
a human who is isolated from society.
it still appears to show that there is a genetic link.
I said, "Certainly, the capacity
for speech is
innate - otherwise we would not be able to speak at all. "
that is very different from showing that the genetic mutation is question
was preserved in evolution because it enabled speech.
gene, the subject of the article you site, is also present in birds, which
do not have a language. So it may be necessary, but it is not sufficient,
for language formation. Which makes it unlikely it was retained because
of language formation.
Why would we develop such a trait, then?
Well, FOXP2 seems to
in modulating synaptic plasticity, neurodevelopment,
neurotransmission, and axon guidance. All of these favour species
survival. Any one of them is a better explanation than language for our
retention of the gene.
Fourth, you say
scientific and engineering practices of analysing a system in terms of its
parts and how they interact could never produce a defensible argument
am not objecting to the analysis of the behaviour of a system through an
analysis of its parts. I have no problem with such a procedure, and as you
suggest, in simple systems, at least, a reductionist analysis will offer a
remarkably complete understanding of the system/
What I am
objecting to is the practice of asserting that a system has a certain property
based on the assertion that some of its component parts have that property.
inference from the existence of the properties of the members to that of
the same property as a propert of the whole is invalid.
not mean that you can make no inference regarding the properties of the
members. It simply means you cannot make that
inference from those properties.
Or as you say, correctly: presumably
you would argue that it is incorrect to look for properties normally found
in the individual in the group
You cannot argue that I
am wrong about types of things, merely because "they do share much in
common, and can provide valuable insights into each others properties and
You say, "but there is nothing wrong with looking
to see whether a group has a personality because groups have many
similarities with individuals, and individuals are observed to have
There is nothing wrong with considering
this argument by analogy.
However, I think you'll find that, on
closer inspection, groups and individuals are very
different, and different precisely in the ways that matter.
- groups are composed of people, but people are not
composed of people, they are composed of cells
- the members of
groups communicate with each other using language, by the members of
people (cells) communicate with each other using electrical signals
the members of groups have rights; the members of people (cells) do not
the members of groups can live on if separated from the group; the members
of people (cells) cannot
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Groups are very different from people. Different enough, I would say, that
basing an analogy about 'needs' and 'wants' from humans to groups is very
weak indeed. It would be like arguing that necause a neural cell has an
electrical charge, a human has an electrical charge.
dogma. That's physics.
Lorraine, great effort on the first cup of coffee!!
on your notion of connecting, it reminded me of a very simple yet
compelling story from our school. Now this is using networks on a very
small scale and in a very simple way. It was through homework. Instead of
a teacher giving homework for students to do individually (will most
likely get 25-30) responses of the same calibre....the teacher insteads
posts it in a discussion forum. Guess what happens when students connect
and share...same as in here...the first response is the same as the
traditional one and every response thereafter builds and creates greater
meaning for everybody who gets involved...they make it their own
knowledge.Sure beats the traditional way and it comforts me that what I
believe to be 21st Century skills are being enhanced and developed in our
Thanks for sparking that thought for me.
Engineers have theories of physics and math; doctors have theories of
medicine; Educators have theories of learning. I think connectivism
still has to be defined. What does "knowledge" "learning" and
"information" mean in connectivism? In "Knowing Knowledge" objects
contain knowledge (?). There is a lot to clear up and sort through here
So does that mean that
our role as educators is shifting from direct transfer of knowledge ( so
to speak) to teaching skills of how to discern and a fundamental subject
knowledge to base that critical eye?
I hope so
I think I
have always viewed the former as training, and the latter as education. My
primary school provided education, along with a reasonable amount of fact
based training which is necessary to support it. My secondary school
provided less education and more training, presumably because they had to
get us good results in examinations - but even then, those I regarded as
my best teachers provided plentiful opportunities for enquiring thought
and reflective thinking. Though I hate to say it, I think my university
experiences have been even more based on the training concept, with the
education coming through informal contact with other students and staff in
a non-work role. However, it is also fair to say that even at university
there are those who promote education, even if they might make it clearer
This has just made me recall a conversation I had
about 6 years ago, about the nature of education - we were defining the
differences between education and training over a pint or five, and we
identified that the critical thinking comes about through comparing views
of concepts and processes with others. So I guess I have viewed education
as a connectivist process for a long time, whilst training is delivered by
instructionist, constructionist and other pedagogies. Perhaps this is a
distinction worth drawing out and discussing in another thread?
Have you ever wondered why educators are the only professionals
that have to reflect about their activity and have created a specific
branch in philosophy, the Philosophy of Education? As far as I know
Engineers, Doctors, Business Administrator don’t have to. Diego Rojas
Ajmad, a Venezuelan professor In the University of Guayana, suggested in
his blog Saparapanda
that “because teachers are fundamental axels of society, in which hands
are the destinies of the inhabitants of a republic, and for this reason
society itself requires clarity and wisdom to exercise the profession.”
What I am trying so say is that finally an educator has come
out and talked about knowledge and learning because knowledge and learning
is what all teachers experience daily in our classroom, and finally we
have a Theory of Learning proposed and discuss by the teaching community
and not exclusively by psychologist , mathematics, neuroscientist,
philosophers etc. (Papert was mathematicians, Piaget, Vygosky and Bruner,
Pavlov were psychologist, Ausubel, doctor and psychiatry) and beyond the
theory itself, this fact is going to have tremendous implications among
the scientific community.
I cannot answer yet what Connectivism is, I am still connecting
the dots in order to form a narrative of coherence, but I can sense
already that it is Learning Theory that proposes an explanation on how the
learner connects with knowledge.
Exactly, With the scope of the publioshed world, a teacher and even
profesor can not know everything about their specialized field (just think
of what is out there in a foreign language literature). So our role is to
teach how to research, crtically analyze, and write/present. The subject
matter just so happens to be the vehicle of discussion for the day.
Evolution is a special case of network behaviour. It is based on some
concept of entity survival and propagation. Fitness of entities may or may
not be based on connections with other entities.
1) If there is no
entity around, how do I survive?
2) It was better to hunt in groups
than alone, chances of survival were better...
3) Consider a threat to
the beehive, one bee is helpless, the swarm is a whole different story.
The darwinian trait of speech prevailed because communicating gave an
advantage to the individual, and most possibly their group...
no such thing, either in evolution or in network theory, of the 'needs of
4) I don't think it is possible to separate the outcome
of the individual from the group. According to Paretto, the global optimum
is better than the sum of partial optimums, which would be an ongoing
environment cast over a darwinian survival of an individual within a group.
other words, even without communication amongst the individuals, although
there certainly are interactions, it is impossible to separate the needs
of the individual from the group --according to Paretto: the larger the
group, the better the chances of the outcome for the individual, all other
I posted this same topic on my
as well as this forum and here is a response that I got on the
The problem I have with this response is that if some types of learning
(such as riding a bicycle) are only part of connectivism because they
involve the formation of neural links, there is nothing very new about it.
am prepared at this point, though, to accept the premise that all learning
-- including how we learn to do things and how we develop attitudes, as
well as how we "know" things -- cannot take place without the learner
being connected to something(s). One sort of connection that I believe is
important in learning anything is experience. Recent brain research has
confirmed that we remember experiences, at least in part, by firing the
same neurons in our brains that fired when the experience first occurred.
This seems to say that we are physically connected to our experiences. It
isn't hard then to say that when I ride my bike that my ability exists
because through my memory I am connected to my past experience. The same
should also be true of emotions and attitudes.
I'm revelling in the discussions I'm encountering as I scroll
down the page in this forum and many posts have sparked thoughts. However,
I have randomly decided, yes, I'll respond here. I haven't yet read the
Sfard article you mention but have read other literature offered by Sfard.
think it was your reference to one unified theory that inspired me, as it
appears to have been a long term quest of humanity to find one unified
theory of existence. There might have been a slim chance eons ago, but the
chances these days I wouldn't begin to bet money on.
You provided a
A realistic thinker knows he or she has to give up the hope that the
little patches of coherence will eventually combine into a consistent
global theory. It seems that the sooner we accept the thought that our
work is bound to produce a patchwork of metaphors rather than a unified,
homogeneous theory of learning, the better for us and for those whose
lives are likely to be affected by our work" (Sfard, 1998 p.12 ).
This made me think again of Weinberger's 'small pieces loosely joined'
ideas and how it seems to reflect reality in our globalised but localised
existence. The old catchcry 'think global, act local'.
often all comes together. I too welcome these discussions, but have
resonated with the ideas of connectivism since I first encountered them. I
wonder if what I love about them is that they are humble, open to critique
and growth, and present a way of being and learning in our world today.
Although I can see your point about
being a method or technique, I would argue that it runs much deeper than
that. Connectivism does define what it is and what it is not.
Connectivism connects people in
meaningful contexts for purposeful reasons in a range of different modes
and mediums. Instead of building knowledge from a single thread then
elaborating on that thread by adding schemata for long term memory (as
in constructivism); connectivism starts from any point and diversifies
into many different areas. Therefore, how we experience and use those
connections is up to the individual.
I would like to say hello to everyone. I see many
friends here in the forum!
Listening to Siemens’ interview
in Rick’s cafe was very interesting and I have commentedon it in my blog
I think there is also a question about the time-frame in which the learner
needs to acquire knowledge. If they need a genuine understanding, it is
important, in my view, to hear the voices of those who disagree, or who
are plain wrong. This helps us to be able to recognise the aspects which
distinguish valid sources from less valid - and thus helps build our
cognitive ability to learn. Of course, bootstrapping this is a potentially
risky business, and so it helps to have some idea of how to critically
analyse the sources we find - I see that as being the role of the formal
education, whether through schooling or parenting.
reliability/verifiability, I think that I can find a particular source
reliable on a range of topics, without 'independent' verification - I read
what they have to say, and critically appraise it. If they are frequently
'right', the reliability forms its own type of verification. I do not tend
to trust sources which are deemed verified by many - wikipedia springs to
mind, though I do not know how many here would consider it verified. Along
with it, resources provided 'anonymously' through institutions have a
tendency to show major flaws in my experience, including those which are
provided in a peer-reviewed journal. The existing mechanisms of
disseminating academic research are, in my view, merely a cut-down version
of the trust network which can be formed through thoughtful application of
the knowledge which can be gained by studying a networks responses to
Just a thought about a 'belief we can't not have' - a belief, to me (and
others, I I believe!) is a concept which we have no need for evidence in
order to hold. Knowledge, on the other hand, is a concept which we have
I worry a little about knowledge being something 'we
can't not have' - because I am naturally forgetful. I actually see this as
a strength, in general, because it forces me to work out how to derive the
things I know from the experience I have (the
evidence), but if knowledge/wisdom etc are things I 'can't not have' then
I cannot have known the things I thought I knew because I now do not know
them, and thus I can 'not have them'.
You have caught a nice aspect of the nature of networks
having feedback loops there, I think.
I can read a book, and absorb
the information in it, and question its veracity. To check further, I must
consult more books (in an entirely book learning world), and receive
other, or similar, opinion. I then have to way the ideas in the books (or
my interpretation of them, in fact) with my experience (which heavily
affects the interpretation I make of them) and decide whether they form
enough evidence to be warranted as 'true'.
In a connectivist model,
I can get the information from a book or a person. I can quickly and
easily ask others whether my interpretation of that is the same as theirs
- indeed, if I share the exciting new knowledge I have gained, it will
spur many to comment without me explicitly seeking the feedback. Because
of the tight feedback loops, I am likely to end up with a firm decision on
the validity of my interpreted view much faster than I would have done in
There is a potential problem, of course. It may be that
everyone I connect with has the same mis-interpretation (either in common
with me, or against my view) and the feedback may serve to limit my
ability to embed the knowledge within my own conceptual framework. It is
also possible for positive feedback loops to form, which can produce
fantasy-worlds in a short period of time. Positive feedback (in the
cybernetic sense, not in the 'you did well' sense) can get you to an end
condition very quickly, but are less stable than negative feedback loops
(which naturally tend to restore things to the status quo). Hype about
diet in the media is an example of positive feedback loops which springs
readily to mind.
In many systems, fast response times tend to
instability - and this is my major concern regarding a fully connected
world. Should we build in some sort of delays?
Or even on your own with other like-minded nuts. I was
thinking of a type of ghetto of learners, the ghettoization of learning
Haven't really put much thought into this, but this
happens even outside of the connectivist model, though come to think of
it, with the advent of the Internet, I've seen a close friend explore a
certain topic of interest with such fanaticism that is quite frightening.
He seems to be connecting to all the most obscure and suspect research on
the topic that interests him. The most downright fanatic presentation of
the subject. I used to send links to studies linked to universities etc to
counteract his "underground" or "undernet" research, but he seemed to
stick to that and be completely suspicious of academic and scholarly
Sorry, the word "nut" just reminded me of this friend...
I had a professor that
used to say we align to the theories that make sense to us, that
corroborate our observations and our experiences.
makes sense. And in the end, there is really nothing at all wrong with
that is there?
But for me, knowledge is not a feel-good thing. I
want to "know." You know? And so I will be very anxious about connecting
to good (valid, accurate) informants in favor of friendly ones.
Hi Jose Antonio,
This is, in my opinion, a better model
than one where you have a single source of information or informant
designated as reliable. You have no way of checking and comparing the
information you have received.
I agree this, though
would also add that even in traditional models one informant would
always be seen as bad or inefficient scholarship.
>I should have been slightly clearer, and said " ."
>Obviously, I was not discussing the survival of empties in a
vacuum-universe devoid of all entities whatsoever. That would be a very
uncharitable reading of my argument.
If there is no entity around, how do I survive?
breathing air, eating animals and plants, drinking water...
Uncharitable? granted, but sometimes walking the extremes makes for very
illuminating discussions. I envision it could open an interesting
discussion around the origins of life...
>2) It was better to hunt in groups than alone, chances of
survival were better...
>It depends on what sort of
entity you are. Entities that are cannibal (and that includes human
cannibals) will find it less good to hunt in groups. Entities that
depend on stealth, surprise and cunning (and that also includes some
humans) will find it less good to hunt in groups.
>If you move
our of the forest and onto the plains, then for entities like humans, it
is probably better to remain in groups. since there's no way to outrun
or hide from opponents. With the onset of agriculture this group
behaviour is cemented as a social norm.
>Change the environment,
though, and evolution runs a very different course.
Hunting? I agree... I also have to accept that life is made up of the
rainbow of colors, so one cannot exclude possibilities. I can also
envision the lonely spider eating its mate, and all. And evidently, this
has been a branch of evolution which seems to have found its niche. But,
in the ladder of evolution, I see branching in this direction a dead end
with slow or no evolutionary progress, compared to the entities that do
Woudn't it be appropriate to consider networking as one
more weapon, or akin to having good supply lines, when fighting the much
larger darwinian war?
>3) Consider a threat to the beehive, one bee is helpless, the
swarm is a whole different story.
>Perhaps. But if
would be incorrect to infer from the properties of bees - which are very
unusual, even for insects - to the properties of other entities.
I think the networking trait of bees and ants is an excellent example
which illustrates the power of networking by itself.
>4) The darwinian trait of speech prevailed because
communicating gave an advantage to the individual, and most possibly
>It is not immediately apparent that
speech is a 'darwinian trait'. Such a supposition requires that humans
have evolved some body part (presumably a part of the brain)
specifically for speech. But it is not clear that this is the case.
the capacity for speech is innate - otherwise we
would not be able to speak at all. But this capacity may well be the
result of a happy accident, rather than a specific evolutionary
Well... isn't evolution the consequence of a lot of happy accidents, which
allowed their subjects to have a happier outcome: them are (or their
descendants are, as in exist), the others are not..?
>Moreover, if we generalize to the capacity for communication,
which, unlike speech, is a trait shared by many
species, then it seems clear that this adaptation, like social
behaviour, depends on the specifics of the species and the environment.
I'm not sure of the point you are forwarding. I understand that speech is
a complex process, but, nevertheless, undoubtfully advantageous. Are you
stating that communication is not necessarily an advantage to a specie?
Which, I cannot see as a disadvantage, at even, extremely feeble levels of
>4) I don't think it is possible to separate the outcome of the
individual from the group. According to Paretto, the global optimum is
better than the sum of partial optimums, which would be an ongoing
environment cast over a darwinian survival of an individual within a
>OK, this is very unclear.
say "the outcome of the individual..." what do you mean? They earnings?
Their life expectancy? And when you say "the global optimum" I am again
unclear on what you mean. These are terms that describe a measurement,
but we need to be clear about what is being measured.
"the outcome of the individual..."
You're right, it needs
clarification. Basically, I'm referring to the individual's chances of
survival, which is ultimately measured by the resources and opportunities
that an individual has in his environment. Which, we know are also not
distributed evenly within the groups themselves.
And, surely, this
is quite a gray definition, and gets grayer when comparing species... But,
we all know that many species are falling behind, to the point of being in
danger of extinction.
>it is impossible to separate the needs of the individual from
>Strictly speaking, this is untrue. An
individual needs air in order to survive. But the group does not need
air. Only the individuals within the group.
>The group, by
contrast, may need something like a 'common vision' in order to survive.
But an individual does not need that common vision to survive.
best, "it is impossible to separate the needs of the individual from the
group" can only be understood in a metaphorical sense. But this would
need some unpacking.
>So I think there's quite a bit of
clarification that needs to be undertaken here.
Let me try and extend my explanation to clarify.
demonstrated that under the same set of conditions (I'm simplifying a
tad), the optimum of a group is greater than the sum of the optimums of
its contituent groups.
Or, If A = B + C + D...
> optimum(B) + optimum(C) + optimum (D) + ....
This is why, in
economy, the European Community should have a better outcome than the old
addition of the outcomes of the signatory countries.
words, a larger universe of individuals, would be wealthier as a whole,
due to the improved distribution of tasks (i.e. no duplications, improved
schedules...), larger pool of opportunities, and many others, than if they
remained acting in their old compartmentalized smaller group structures.
I see that the group is permanently and tacitly casting this group effect
over it constituent individuals, whether they are aware of it, or not. It
could be analogous to an environmental (or outer) effect: the more, the
And, although I concede that an individual may part from
his group's (mis)conceptions, and that his needs are far from correlated
one to one, the individuals cannot escape the cast of the consequences of
Paretto's theorem, which is group overbearing, hence, ever so pushing for
the alignment of their needs.
In any case, I appreciate the time
you've taken to review my comments.
I like what you are saying - there is a danger in seeking "the right
sources" for "the best-fit solutions" and therefore assuming that when
the fit is correct, we then "know". I believe the theory is more about
lifelong learning, with living connections and an evolutionary tree of
knowledge - there is no end-point, often a lot of dead-ends as we
backtrack to other sources, nodes of information to find a better fit.
To me the analogy of evolution is ideal. The concept of environmental
pressure and ecological experience determining our "lived knowledge"
upon which we build. As an example, we could claim to be
constructivist, and then find the fit is not all it should be, so we
backtrack to find the point at which we believe our interpretation
became linear, and look for other sources, other ideas, other
solutions. Does that make sense? What I like about this analogy, is
that we can continue to develop each current endpoint as our ecology
changes, and create a convergence of them all to inform our current
Hi Jenni a clear and concise thought provoking comment - The
problem will be deciding which are "good" informants
For me the issue from a teacher/facilitator perspective is how to
explicitly "teach" the key employability skill of discernment, where we
all receive huge amounts of information from our connections and need to
sort them into sensible meaning.
For many of our students, it's
also about recognising what is "valid' to meet the needs of the standards
based curriculum. George mentions in his "New
" article the challenges of "validating information accuracy
and determining quality" (page 4), albeit these challenges are somewhat
further down the track after the connections have been made.
I find this subject fascinating, and I understand Emanuela´s
In my classes, water cooling contacts, chats and presentations of a
subject (and they are very technical matters) , I try to involve
emotional representations (Histories of the old days, incidents relating
to lack of skills - anecdotes after all) .
Adding situational context to the content helps to connect items of
knowledge and reinforces memories.
John Medina http://www.brainrules.net/pdf/JohnMedina_PsychTimes_May08.pdf,
explained it very clear . Thanks Diego
Leal, for reminding me of him .
Lovely thought Geoff. So is the issue the tools and gee
whiz what can I do with his iPhone or Twitter account eg collect more
information and collect more opinions.
Or, as teachers, do we help
our students to sift, incorporate a range of ideas and then somehow
validate what they've "learnt" against some set of criteria?
Instead of building knowledge
from a single thread then elaborating on that thread by adding schemata
for long term memory (as in constructivism); connectivism starts from
any point and diversifies into many different areas.
that mean that connectivism is inherently less suited than constructivism
to a goal-directed search for knowledge?
No, definitely not. I suppose what
it does mean is that you need to be very clear about:
what you want to know
why you want to know
what outcome you want to achieve
what is irrelevant
These are skills we all need in
using information/knowledge for informed decision-making. The key word
being ‘informed’. That is the beauty of connectivism. We can connect and
be informed at so many different levels depending on what we want out of
After my last encounter with learning theories of Constructivism and
Constructionism, should I be agreeing that there is one theory too many?
the back of my mind I was thinking about some class discussions around
negotiated meanings in knowledge creation/construction. There are no
absolutes, a few of my colleagues declared. The meaning of knowledge is
shared and agreed upon and can change in a different setting and context.
best different learning theories try to explain how humans learn and aid
us in our quest and understanding. When the learning theories are put
under the microscope, sometimes they may not all stand up to the being the
perfect theory! If you start looking for flaws, you’ll find them.
article "On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just
(Sfard, 1998) provides a thought-provoking piece and challenges us to
rethink our position vis-a--vis "old" and "new" learning theories. "The
basic message of this article can now be put in a few sentences. As
researchers, we seem to be doomed to living in a reality constructed from
a variety of metaphors. We have to accept the fact that the metaphors we
use while theorizing may be good enough to fit small areas, but none of
them suffice to cover the entire field. In other words, we must learn to
satisfy ourselves with only local sensemaking. A realistic thinker knows
he or she has to give up the hope that the little patches of coherence
will eventually combine into a consistent global theory. It seems that the
sooner we accept the thought that our work is bound to produce a patchwork
of metaphors rather than a unified, homogeneous theory of learning, the
better for us and for those whose lives are likely to be affected by our
work" (Sfard, 1998 p.12 ).
I welcome the discussions and
debates around "Connectivism" and would like to consider it as "learning
theory" just as how I have considered Constructivism, Constructionism, and
... not to be "imperialist" about theories of learning ...
you (and Kevin) are right. But it's not only a question of
different cultures (not only a question of "imperialism").
any didactive activity we must take into account the learning styles and
the goals of people involved.teacker.blogspot.com
Evolution is a special case of network behaviour. It is based on some
concept of entity survival and propagation. Fitness of entities may or may
not be based on connections with other entities.
There's no such
thing, either in evolution or in network theory, of the 'needs of the
Hi Scott. I think I understand what you are saying. To paraphrase
one part of it: "everyone has a story, something to add. As
learners, we seek out the individuals that appeal to our
Am I close?
Maybe the way I said was wrong. I really don't believe any serious
person would be willing to be surrounded by theories he/she feels good
about. I really do not believe in such a hedonistic world.
I have a degree psychology, and I love psychonalysis, which goes way
beyond making people feel good and comfortable. Aligning to a theory is
beyond being pleased by what it says, Our choices are generally more than
skin deep, at least mine are. However, they do give us pleasure in certain
way because they complement us, explain who we are and allow us to
Thanks a lot for pointing that out. It really made me think better
about what I had said and express it a little better, Ihope.
I've been living in Tokyo for 24 years, and find that communication
patterns and learning styles often take for granted a very stable
situation, and one where the authority and response-abilities lie with the
A very important point, in my view. I think
it's essential not to be "imperialist" about theories of learning. There
are valid and varied cultural assumptions in different places that need to
be taken into account. The "respons-ability" isn't only with the learner,
I'd say. The informant, especially in situations of power difference, has
their own responsability or responsibility as I see it, in any culture.
Hi Wendy. Good commentary. I have observed that some people seek out
validation; in hierarchical work situations, this may be akin to
surrounding yourself with 'yes' people, at the extreme. And I would
contend that sometimes we seek out contrary opinions, in order to test
our own ideas. And sometimes we just seek out ideas, in the absence of
our own. I also agree that the filters/biases we each possess will
impact our choices, and recognition of them is a big step in the process.
Wendy...have you also been around a certain group in your life that
actually has a negative impact on what you think?? everything at the
moment in your life as far as gathering knowledge validates what you are
thinking at that time. For some reason, when you break away from this, you
begin to see things from a refreshed perspective and the people around you
are different. So, what i think I am trying to get at, is that I agree
that we gather those around us to validate our thoughts, but we don't
always stay with them...I wonder why that is??
I am not sure what you mean by "negative impact" Lissa. There are
certainly those around us who challenge the way we think, which as Ken
asserts can be a renewal rather than a problem. I guess, if I am
thinking in terms of "negative", there do exist communities of practice,
certainly an over-representation in education, with such a
strong cultural belief that anybody else within that community with
alternative beliefs is a heretic! But I think the effect is a
negative impact on one's morale, ego, self-esteem rather than a negative
impact on what one thinks
This is the self-reinforcing structure I was referring to
previously. When I reflect then upon the theory (or otherwise) of
connectivism, I wonder about the social/organisational impact on the
uptake of this way of learning and can understand better the
sceptics. Often, the comfort zone is reiterating past practice,
possibly even refining and improving it. Is this learning? What
thank you for your link to Sfard's article, in the dim recesses of my
brain, I remember it as being one of the readings we were asked to study
in one of my M Ed courses
As an adult educator, one of the first courses we put our teachers /
lecturers through is 'adult learning theories'. At last count, the
course content introduced about 20 along with another dozen or so
'learning styles' approaches. The main premise of our course (& most
adult learning theory courses I suspect) is to introduce a plethora of
theories from which the teachers / lecturers can form affinities with.
This is because everyone teaches in different contexts, facilitating
learning of a wide variety of content at various levels and with diverse
student cohorts. There a 'pick & mix' plus 'fit to purpose' philosophy
has to apply. It's what makes teaching an ongoing challenge that is
So connectivism is another source of information that may be useful in
some contexts, in the delivery of some content & with some students.
Another theory just adds richness to the tools that teachers have
available to help learners learn.
Just to add the 'adult educators' perspective.
Good point. I think we do place trust in some authority, to help
guide us in our ways. On the other hand, free will seems to provide
the opportunity to take the nut route, if desired!
There's no such thing, either in evolution or in network
theory, of the 'needs of the group'.
In the case of
evolution, I think that assertion requires some
justification. I know there is a predominant view that
individualism is all, and at the extreme level the selfish gene idea
suggests that there is no such thing as the needs of the individual, but
I would be surprised if you can prove to me that there is definitely no
such thing as the needs of the group - indeed, I would be surprised if
you can prove it not to exist for the network too, unless you choose to
define the network to exclude the possibility.
The question about the informant made me think a little. I am just
trying to reply to some points as I read along. The messages accumulated
a little on my inbox. So, someone might have addressed this issue in a
different or better way. Let me try to express how I see everyone you
connect to as an informant. I trully believe this is so, but what
happens is that you have multiple connections in a connected world and
the number connections help you decide and flag this or that
information/informant as reliable. I think that the mere diversity and
huge number of connections help you to make a decision on what to trust.
This is, in my opinion, a better model than one where you have a single
source of information or informant designated as reliable. You have no
way of checking and comparing the information you have received.
Kind regards from Brazil
I've been having these very productive encounters at business meetings
during the past few days, to the point that one may put $ values. I'm ever
more surprised to learn that sometimes misguided propositions triggers in
me (or someone else) excellent ideas, which I would have never thought of
on my own.
In other words, connecting with other people shows me
(and anyone else for that matter) these little pebbles, which I recognize
as diamonds, if polished a tiny bit. So, over and over, I'm experiencing
that these interactions with the network have an enormous value.
encouraging this behaviour be a goal in itself?
Wouldn't it be
enough to encourage our kids to connect to solve their problems?
problem solving the essence of learning?
My issue with the term 'need' is that is very often a
fiction, even when it is ascribed to entities we would ordinarily think
Take a tree, for example. Does a tree have needs? On
the one had, we want to say that it does - it needs water, it needs air.
On the other hand, a 'need' is an emotional state, an intentional state -
it is tied in with the concept of wants and goals. But when we say that a
tree 'wants' water, then we are probably anthropomorphizing.
we apply the same thinking to a collection of entities, such as a society,
the matter becomes even less clear. We can, on the one hand, say that a
society has needs - like, say, air and water, just like a tree. But to say
that a society 'wants' these things is anthropomorphic as well. We are
pretending that a society is a perswon - but a society is not a person.
with a society, we have the additional problem of distinguishing those
needs that properly attach to a society, and those that attach to the
individuals in the society. Air and water, for example, are needed by
individuals. But is there anything that is needed by a society, but not
but the individuals?
There's no shortage of candidates. People talk
about the need for social order, for a common vision. Rousseau talked
about the 'general will', Adam Smith talked about the 'invisible hand'.
But it is very unclear that the putative 'needs' are actually expressions
of the desires of some subset of society, and not the entity as a whole.
think it's really difficult to talk about needs, even with respect to
individuals. If we remove the intentionality - if we remove the 'want' and
the 'goal', then the talk of needs becomes very trite, along the lines of
describing the material inputs for a physical system. But if we begin
talking about intentional attributes, then the reason becomes very unclear
- and certainly not clear enough to apply it to a society as a whole.
think we can talk about the properties of collections of individuals. But
I think that this talk needs to be cautious and careful. I think that most
of the properties will be epiphenomenal - that is, they will be
observable, perceivable, but without causal import. I think that we need a
different language to talk about the properties of the collection. If a
society moves in what appears to be an intentional
manner - if it appears to express a need - we need to
examine what is happening dispassionately, and not leap to the easy
analogy that society is expressing a need.
hope that helps.
I have posted 2 comments on my blog, teacker
of them refers to my own experience. Can they be an answer to the question
posed (what is connectivism?
The first one is
a reflection on my learning mechanisms, referring to a very recent
experience: "In the last 3 days, the very first ones of the cck08
, I have attended the Word
all ... if you like)
The second is a description on
how I feel that my mind works: "Many years ago - 25? 30? - I read
somewhere the expression "cognitive matrix". From then on ..."
all ... if, as I hope, you like)
It is easy for all fo us to say that " Connectivism" is one of the
newest learning theory. Ok yes, It is OK well done. But we are still
wondering that the TPACK (2006) from Punya Mishra, and
Matthew J. Koehler has not been mastered yet (the wicked problem). How
people in this real world know knowledge as they have to work in the era
of "knowledge workers" not "skilled workers". So how long do we have to
debate that this will be the need of the educator today. In my opinion,
it seems to be all right as the person is responsible for what he
does and thinks. Good !
Irlan rahardja - indonesia
I wonder if I am attracted to people because of their knowledge, and I
am comfortable with their perspective because I can identify with it?
And then I wonder at the comfort zone that can generate, and if my
perspectives will shift - ie will I learn?
I am not for a moment suggesting that you are thinking this, but for
some it is a natural tendency to seek people with similar ideas because
they validate your own? The filters we use when we seek people out
because of their knowledge become terribly important don't they?
For brevity, numbered responses
2) I believe human cannibalism is
found in groups which hunt communally.
3) If the case of bees, ants,
termites etc is correct (I believe it is) then it undermines the
original assertion (the needs of the many can, indeed, outweigh the
needs of the one)
4) I believe that our complex speech capabilities
have been strongly linked to a genetic mutation about 50,000 years ago,
so it probably is 'darwinian' - if it isn't 'darwinian', what would be
the explanation anyway? Is darwinism anything more than happy accident
weeded out through selection?
4b) Without air, where is your group?
Existing without its constituent members? The group needs air.
the parts of an individual need all the things the individual needs to
survive? Do mitochondria need the same things as we do, for instance? (I
am not certain - they may, but I suspect they don't) - the individual is
a higher order than its constituent parts, as a group is higher order
than its constituent members, and this may mean they have extra needs.
do think the needs of the individual and the group can be different, but
I do not think you are right to suggest that the group can have fewer
needs than the individuals which make it up - at least insofar as the
individuals are requisite constituents of the group.
Jenni, Silvana, you've prodded me to share. I get a distinct feeling that
this view of learning being the response-ability is somewhat constrained
by culture and the online environment. I've been living in Tokyo for 24
years, and find that communication patterns and learning styles often take
for granted a very stable situation, and one where the authority and
response-abilities lie with the "source".
Sure, out in
the online wilderness and in an individualistic culture, the balance you
suggest for response-ability is perhaps warranted, but we have to be
careful not to overgeneralize. (Which neither of you have done, by the
These two concepts are from the
vantage point of a person who has no experience with the internet and no
knowledge of the subject matter. So, in that context, they have no real
sense of "right". In the timeframe that I teach in, we don't have the
luxury of time to dive in the deep waters, just enough time to get their
I would hope that critical analysis of information is
something done at home - I learned it from punk rock records, perhaps not
the most eloquent teacher, but at least I expanded my colloquial
vocabulary as well.
class, I talk a lot about wikipedia and how it is essentially trust based
and we offer opinions about the pros and cons of trust based information.
Interesting to see how people are politically aligned when we talk about
information on the internet.
Just my knee-jerk reaction (I'm reading through this week's material
The implications of connectivism for
epistemology and the theory and analysis of knowledge are interesting. I
completed a course on epistemology via Oxford Uni Online a couple of
months ago and learned that concepts such as authority, truth, reason
and justification were inextricably linked to the analysis of knowledge,
while at the same time it was not clear what sort of relationship these
concepts had to the goal of epistemology.
An interesting analysis
of knowledge, by Edward Craig, maintained that the original concept of
knowledge is simply a way of identifying good “informants.” But how can
this happen in the connectivist model?
forward to this week's discussion.
It may be useful to make a separate thread for the
various teaching/training/facilitation distinctions for those who don't
have some background in educational theory.
I will say that I agree
with your assessment of education/training. I'll also throw in there that
your university experience may be from a series of profs who were
unwilling or unable to decentralize the power in the classroom for
I haven't read Edward Craig, so maybe I've got this out of
context..however my thoughts on how the connectivism model is associated
with the concept of knowledge is that everyone you connect with is an
"informant". The problem will be deciding which are "good" informants.
Freedom from bias, that would be predicated by freedom
of identity I think (am sure I'll catch all sorts of heck for that one).
I wanted to respond to everyone but especially Lisa who said
"if I'm the main filter for
everything, including my own network, then my own biases and
misconceptions would color everything I learn."
argue that this happens already. hence why some people pay attention to
some news organizations. FOX vs MSNBC for example. depending upon your own
biases you probably go to one or the other."And instead of that being countered by some
kind of authority I've come to trust (through my contact with others in a
socially-vetted, formal educational environment), I'm just kind of on my
own to turn into a total nut."
The term I would like to
question is socially vetted. Could it be argued that the networks we
develop are in fact vetting the information passing through them? As for
formal educational environment, professionally that exists for us but does
that educational environment extend for the rest of the populace past the
Loving the discussion guys!
We connect to others (people) in our lives though networks. Our brain
learns by neural nets connecting to other neural nets (networks). And now
we are connecting using Web 2.0 tools, and creating our own personal
you connect with is an "informant""
Yes, that sounds
right to me. Thanks for clarifying this. I wonder how inexperienced
learners learn how to flag good informants in a connectivist model.
Brevity would have been better sacrificed for clarity. Take your time,
and make your points clearly. Arguments that may be obvious to you
aren't obvious to your readers; instead of offering a one-liner, show
the reasoning and make it clear how the comment addresses the original
Additionally, if you are going to make statements about,
say, the origin of speech, please offer some reasoning or evidence for
them. You write, "I believe that our complex speech capabilities have
been strongly linked to a genetic mutation about 50,000 years ago." On
what basis do you make such a claim?
And please pause to consider
the statements you are refuting. You write, for example, "Without air,
where is your group?" But that is not the proposition I advanced. I
questioned whether the group required any air over and above
the air needed to sustain its members.
With respect to the
arguments regarding the properties of groups and individuals, I would
like to refer you (and readers generally) to three widely separate
discussions in the literature:
1. The medieval discussion of
whether essence have existence. Koons.
Does the colour red have an existence over and above all the separate
existences of particular instances of redness? Why would we think so?
Gilbert Ryle, on the issue of the category error. Wikipedia.
The university is composed of a set of buildings, but it would be a
mistake to look for an entity with the properties of a buiulding that is
3. The Fallacy
of Componsition. A brick wall is composed of bricks. Each brick is
two inches tall. But it would be a fallacy to conclude that the brick
wall is two inches tall.
In general - you cannot appeal to the
properties of the members in order to draw conclusions about the
properties of the whole. The whole must be considered without
reference to the properties of the members. To do otherwise
is to engage in an indefensable form of argument.
The discussion on what connectivism is will be occurring in various
spaces - blogs, wikis, etc. This forum is set up for those who prefer a
more central space to hold the discussion...feel free to comment, post
and share your views here.
OK the longer version.
Cannibalism - I do not profess to be an
expert on anthropology, but as far as I am aware, this practice has been
often noted in cultures which practice communal hunting and are often
described as 'war-like'. Whilst some of this is undoubtedly due to
demonization of enemies, or the misunderstood, it seems to contradict your
assertion that "Entities that are cannibal (and that includes human
cannibals) will find it less good to hunt in groups."
assert that "Entities that depend on stealth, surprise and cunning (and
that also includes some humans) will find it less good to hunt in
groups.", to which I would just like to mention "lions". They hunt in
groups, use stealth, surprise and tactics, which I think is a reasonable
approximation to 'cunning'.
Thus, I do not find that your exemplars fit
your argument. As a side note, if you had spent more time and space
elaborating on your answer to Joe, it is possible that any
misunderstanding of your point to which I have fallen prey may have been
On the matter of inferring from one type of entity to
others, such as from the bee to other social creatures, I find your
assertion that such an inference is incorrect to be troubling. Whether
cognitively or subconsciously we model systems. The model is of a
completely different type to the entity being modeled. We then draw
inferences in the form of hypotheses and test them to test the validity of
the model. To suggest that doing so is wrong seems to undermine most
academic activity. Taking the bee and its hive as a model for highly
connected communities with individuals taking on different roles, and
drawing inferences from the behaviours of one to form hypotheses about the
other strikes me as not only a correct thing to do, but almost a necessity.
speech, a recent piece on the matter shows it to be less clear than the
earlier results of which I was aware, but nevertheless it still appears to
show that there is a genetic link. The New
article on the FOXP2 gene expresses it better than I can -
the date for the mutation seems to be quoted as being within the time
frame of 30,000 to 200,000 years ago depending on the source.
for the group/individual issues, and your supplementary reading
suggestions, I suspect we have a fundamental difference, whilst, perhaps,
sharing some pragmatic philosophical positions.
If your concluding
remark were correct, the scientific and engineering practices of analysing
a system in terms of its parts and how they interact could never produce a
defensible argument, or analysis, of the whole. Now, I would argue that
there are clear cases where the reducionist approach works. There are also
cases where it appears not to work, due to complexity. The same holds true
for communities of people - if you are somehow able to examine the
motivations, physical and mental properties, and inter-connectedness of
the individuals, it is perfectly valid to draw conclusions about how they
behave en masse
- the error comes when conclusions are
drawn without analysing all the elements of the system. However, I would
certainly agree that there needs to be a degree of holism. In practice, I
always look to see what the system under investigation is a part
. No system exists in isolation (except purely platonic ones,
of course) so in order to understand it and draw any conclusions about it,
you need to have some understanding of the larger picture. You cannot,
however, have a complete understanding (except for trivial cases) of a
component, the whole, or the super-system.
If I want to gain
understanding of, say, the mathematical relationship
do so without reference to the properties of the members. I do not believe
anybody can, but I am willing to be proved wrong.
If I have a group of
people who are all ardent football fans, working in some office, I cannot
draw sound conclusions about how they will act when the world cup is on,
unless I have previous experience as a wholeof this group under
, unless I know about their individual
properties. Your assertion says that I cannot use those properties 'is an
ardent football fan' when drawing conclusions about the group. I assert
that not only does doing so provide a better analysis, it also constitutes
a highly defensable argument, as opposed to ignoring these details, which
produces an indefensable one.
As for the category error
presumably you would argue that it is incorrect to look for properties
normally found in the individual in the group, and vice versa. Certainly
individuals are not per se
groups, and legal aspects
aside, groups are not individuals. However, they do share much in common,
and can provide valuable insights into each others properties and
behaviours. I would agree that it is incorrect to say that a group has a
personality because an individual has a personality, but there is nothing
wrong with looking to see whether a group has a personality because groups
have many similarities with individuals, and individuals are observed to
Dogma, I would argue, is not the friend of
Yes, Jenni I agree with you. The real challenge is
deciding which are good informats.
In connectivism model the responsability
(response-ability) for learning lies totally on the
I wrote my first post in my
blog introducing a story of personal responsability which can be
read as a metaphor for networked individualism.
So, boiling that down to its simplest form:
Don't read what I write,
read what I intended you to understand.
Bees are (virtually) unique in
not permitting inferences to be drawn from them to other similar systems.
advent of FOXP2 and the production of complex speech was an accident and
such speech is not contributory to the success of the human species.
the way, most animals have language, it is just few that have speech or
our complexity of language)
Back to groups and needs - you clearly
state that individuals in a group need air, but the group does not. If you
remove air from the group (for a sufficient period of time) the
individuals in it die. The group now either didn't need air, and can
continue to persist, even though the individuals in it are now dead (still
in existence, mind you) or it did need air and no longer exists. You could
abstract this slightly, and say the group needs constituent members, but I
cannot see how you can argue that the need for air is not commutative over
the relationship between individuals and group, unless you argue that the
group will continue to exist.
This is not the case, necessarily,
with all properties of the constituent members - but then nobody so far
has suggested that it is. Individuals members may need money, but the
group may, or may not, need it.
Once again I am left dumbfounded at
your examples, in this case of the differences between individuals and
I have no idea why it is particularly important to you that
people are not comprised of people - although reductio ad absurdam
they evidently are - each one being composed of precisely 1 person.
is a codification of information to allow transmission between entities -
so that example falls down
Rights are a social construct varying
between culture and community which evolve over time - the apparent
cooperative nature of cells in an animal or plant suggests they are rather
good at respecting one anothers' rights, evolved over time
groups can survive without the group if they are entirely self sufficient,
or if they have other support mechanisms - the same is true of cells from
an animal (or plant)
So, your case remains to be shown by example,
let alone proved.
A neuron has an electrical charge because of the
ion-pump channels and the surrounding fluid. Most protein membranes have
the same properties - including those surrounding skin cells - it is just
that they are not used in the same fashion. Put the whole human in the
same conditions as an operational neuron, and I suspect that you will find
the whole human has an electrical charge (though I do not know if anyone
has conducted the experiment).
I am afraid I still
cannot take your argument as a 'given'.
Er, I guess you never studied the stem cell debates or you might
reconsider the blanket claim that cells don't have rights.
think you can fairly characterize cannibalism as a kind of bowling-alone
thing. It's usually done in groups. It's a tribal cultural value, or
necessity. It usually happens as a tribal function and would require
reinforcement of the tribe for continued practice.
I think in other
contexts (the siege of Leningrad) cannibalism could be solitary as it is
an immoral or criminal aberration to what the group would usual consider
But for me words like 'responsibility', 'accuracy' and
especially 'truth' are indefinable; or if they are used they are defined
by the context (culture, belief, background, opportunistic personal
Let us look at the 'truth' as stated by religious people,
even if they refer to religious books, the interpretations and thus
consequences drawn from that same book are both eclectic and numerous.
same with trust. What is trust if not the set of values a person is
familiar with and thus if learning comes down to trust, we are most likely
to learn something that fits (not completely but mostly) in our frame of
reference build throughout our life?
I read an interesting article in WIRED yesterday talking about the idea of
a superorganism (think: bee hive) and how this collective group
experiences evolutionary changes in a very significant way. Evolutionary
trends are driven by the needs of the group and are not largely impacted
by changes in the individual. In a small segment of the reading, there was
an almost cursory allusion made to the formation of expansive digital
social networks and the startling similarity that these networks share
with the superorganism behavior as it responds to challenges, changes and
opportunities in an environment. Given all of this, it seems to me that
connectivism is a spoke in the wheel of human evolution - if not the wheel
itself. If I can find the exact reference article, I will post it for any
who may be interested.
I'm off to board up my house for Hurricane
Ike. Take care.
I agree, Pierfranco
When I studied literary criticism and what literature is (another elusive
definition) we spent quite some time discussing E.M. Forster's "Only
. The penny/cent dropped
immediately for me, because when I discovered/learnt something new I had a
funny feeling as if I could feel the synapsis flashing inside my skull,
almost like in cartoons where the idea will light up a bulb
I was very intrigued with the theory. After reading Reading
, I came to think more and more about it and I ended
Kathryn: I also think there are a lof of implications of connectivism for
epistemology. Stephen Downes does a more "philosophical" approach to this.
I found really interesting this post in his blog (specially the responses
to Bill Kerr) :
Thoughts on Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism
The use of bowling as part of the “old” groupings is a red flag for me.
My wife bowls in a league every Friday night. You know that this means?
We can never go out with friends on Fridays. We can never go to
synagogue on Fridays. We can never go away for a weekend. We can never
eat at a normal hour on Fridays. We can never go to a play or movie on
Fridays, unless they start after 9:00.
It takes a stubbornness and determination to live in a networked society
and cling to a little box group (not to mention an understanding spouse).
But I think this points out an interesting point. In the past, geography
was probably the most limiting factor in the groups people belonged to.
In the future it will be choice. If you do not make an explicit choice,
you will belong to groups for very limited timeframes; you will lose the
advantages of long term relations and bonds. If you do make an explicit
choice to belong and to remain an active member, you will lose the
opportunities to form new bonds and interests that can be more exciting,
especially for short amounts of time.
In one sense it’s like love, and in another it’s like exercise. There is
an excitement about the first kiss, the first few dates, and the many
other “firsts” in a new relationship. You lose those in a long term
relationship; but you gain something else, something that is deeper. In
exercise, we all know how exercise helps the body and the mind. We all,
at one time or another, end up joining gyms and/or buying equipment.
But, how many of us stick with the regimen for decades?
So, does this indicate that there is more need for us all to learn how
to make better personal decisions and how to balance the advantages of
maintaining course with change?
As the article talks about the decreasing influence of space, I start
thinking of my company. We are two partners, both working from our
homes. In one sense, we could be anywhere, but we are about 35 minutes
from each other. Thus, proximity must have been an influence, but is not
now a limiting factor.
And, while we are in the northeast, we work with associates all over the
US. But even then, these are associates that we have gotten to know at
conferences within a particular industry, and then worked with virtually
on projects. These associates work with us on projects where their
expertise can help us; they are not corporate employees, there is no
formal binding contract; yet we seem to work with them often; and we
make some sacrifices beyond contractual obligations so that their needs
can be met, as they also make concessions so that ours are as well.
Associates usually start with a specific well-defined role, but their
roles grow as our mutual desire to work together becomes more important
than the specific skills they offered us at inception. And, with most
associates, we continue to see them at least 2-3 times a year.
Certainly, the ability to share document (Google docs) and to message
each other makes working in this disparate way easier.
And, we have clients all over the world. Again, we have met most of
these clients at industry conferences. All have some US component. All
speak English reasonably well.
How will our interactions and feeling of belonging to a group change as
Nice to meet you, my name is Maru.
I cannot answer
yet the first question on your blog: Is Connectivism a theory or pedagogy?
I need to read more. Though I agree with your answer my aim is also
to enable others to be better persons regardless if they are my students
or my patients.
I agree with you on your three key points conditions for learning: To
find the pressing need, to enable the will, ability and potential to make
changes and to provide support.
I try to cover them in f2f sessions but
I think that for online sessions you really need to pay attention to each
one in order to facilitate the learning. I enjoyed very much your
metaphor, we are usually trying to place the responsibility on the outside
instead of searching inside.
I am amazed by the speed in which you read and integrate the material
read. i wish I were more like you. Thanks for sharing. See you
around. Love: Maru
It seems that what we are all doing each day throughout our lives is
trying to analyze and decide upon "good" informants. And that we readily
(sometimes not so readily - and various cultural constraints can sometimes
be accused) toss aside "good" for BETTER. Connectivism reshapes formal
learning to match this already intuitive pattern. (And connectivism
happens all of the time without technology.) This is why and how the
"pipe" is so important and MORE important that the content. The pipe is
what people use to become inspired to change, learn and transform. The
pipe is all about people changing because they have a pressing
need to do so regardless of culture.
Hi Sebastián, I guess we'll get to talk about this next
week when we get to the "Rethinking epistemology" topic. It will also
give us time to do some more reading. If you have any more resources
that discuss connectivism and epistemology, please do share them with me.
I think Stephen's post is interesting and entertaining,
but (understandably so) too simplicist, in reference to epistemology
anyway. I don't think knowledge is simply a matter of recognition.
Though in some cases it can be - there are some things we just know and
wouldn't doubt that we know, e.g. that we have two hands. But, going
beyond our hands, the epistemic process is much more demanding and
requires rigorous effort, research, contemplation, justification...
Anyway, still early on and thoughts are a bit fuzzy right
now. (Though my thoughts tend to remain fuzzy. )
Hope to discuss this matter with you further.
I guess in
this model, everyone has a responsibility - whether learning or teaching -
anything shared in a connectivist learning network would have to be done
with a real responsibility for sincerity and accuracy and truth. There are
issues of trust here, too?
Hi Geoff (and others), we'll be tackling these issues
this next week when we start our discussion of connective knowledge. I
hope it's ok to defer answering until then. I noticed that you had posted
previously on the need for clarity on the notion of knowledge, especially
as related to non-human objects...and it's an important discussion for
clarity and context.
Hi Bill, I'm glad you brought this up. I was thinking - while browsing
through the reading material and discussions - how is learning connected
to knowledge exactly? Or rather is there a necessary relationshp or
connection between learning and knowledge? One could learn anything, but
that doesn't mean that one will necessarily acquire knowledge. And this
probably applies to other theories of learning, not just connectivism.
When perceiving what connectivism is, my approach is: How is learning when
it is connective?
LEARNING: life-wide + random + trialogical +
networked + inter-cultural + multidisciplinary + distributed + immersive +
worldmaking + social + meditated + wayfinding = CONNECTIVE
elements of learning will form key words for my concept map for the next
phases of this course, in order to learn in a connective way, learn what
connective knowledge is and to know more.
The concept of connectivism is really appealing and definitely makes
sense to me. However, a few thoughts came up.
Are the presented learning theories all learning theories in the
strictest sense, and if not, is a comparison useful? Behaviorism and
cognitivism are just learning theories since an atempt is made to
explain how people learn. Constructivism and connecitvism primarily try
to explain the true nature of knowledge and how knowledge is
constructed. As a consequence of that, learning is defined. It is not a
big deal I guess, but it puzzled me.
Should we think in terms of replacing former learning theories by the
new ones or should we think more about merging different theories? I
think that there is no such thing as 'one type of knowledge', like there
is no such thing as 'one type of learning objectives'. Different
objectives require different approaches to learning, and each type of
learning practice might require a specific design. For instance,
learning to act effectively in life-threatening situations as
an aircraft pilot requires the execution of strict procedures in a
strict order. Those procedures are best teached according to
behavirorist principles I guess. Constructing complex knowledge or
developing solutions to a wicked problem can only be done
through collaboration. Concetivism offers a useful perspective in that
typ of learning situations. I wonder what the 'merging' principle would
mean for educational design.
In my Searching the Internet course I teach for Con. Ed, I talk about
finding out information about the author and the importance of doing a
little digging, I think the criteria I set forth for those learners in my
class apply: have they written about the issue before, does the
information ring true (is what is being written about also something you
have experienced), can you find two other sources that say the same thing
(falling back on an investigative journalism model), do you have a history
with the informant...
Now certainly the waters get muddier when you
have a conversation with someone who has no pedigree or history, that
certainly doesn't rule out the idea that the informant is not reliable (to
use spy terminology), just means that the information is unverifiable.
I think that you can spend too much time looking for 'good' informants.
better, I think, to draw a parallel with 'finding a friend' rather than
'finding a reliable source of information'. You are looking for a
communications partner, not an encyclopedia.
I think that most
people would serve just fine as a connection. It has to do with affinity
and comfort - can you talk to the person. Sure, just as in friends,
there are things to avoid - deadbeats, liars, cheats - but you wouldn't
select your friends based on how authoritative they are, and neither
should you so choose your connections.
another dimension of seeing and understating how learning occurs or
Like in physics, where String Theory had to add another dimension (the
11th) to integrate gravitation , connectivism helps to deal with the
growing complexity all the world of knowledge .
Here is my concept map