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#CCK11 Ode to the Troll – Epode

Oh poor Troll, you downtrodden beast

Your assaultive ways, your sultry vibes

Lead some to a desire to feast

On your bones, those wanton scribes

That cannot see value in thee

But we that will, invite unto you

The courage to prolong your act

Question, confront, in power of see

Shed not those things that you do

We, the other, slay ubiquitous tact.

#CCK11 Ode to the Troll – Anti-strophe

Avast ye troll, and off with thine head!

There is nothing with virtue in thee

Your flaming tones, they need not be read

All questions, to the contrary, don’t see.

And what to do, with your assaults on all

They can’t have a purpose at sway

For if they did, would we just not agree

That something of good comes of gall?

If it were thus, what would we say

How could we save ourselves from thee?

#CCK11 An Ode to the Troll – Strophe

Well, I’ve kinda had it with the Troll discussion that erupts at least once during a Connectivist course. I’m willing to grant that foul language, direct character assaults and the like can provide an uncomfortable atmosphere for some, but I find it comical that this behaviour would be seized upon as the reason for people leaving a forum, or a disruption in conversation, or a limiting of the conversation. Surely people have more courage than that, and are able to deal with a troll or ignore the troll and move on.  Or maybe there is a lack of courage, and the troll exposes this? 

Not much of a poet am I

For ’tis not much easy on me

To make words on the page so to fly

Would rather place alms to the see

Of questions, to the purpose of light

Where exposure turns lips onto stone

Greeting with nary a sound

To deny the power of right

Not like the woman of chrone

Life tends to the figure of round.

#CCK11 Things that Irk-me

I think it is important for me to clear my mind of irk-ful things. Perhaps in doing so my thoughts on Connectivism will be more objective? I will start with a couple things that irk-me, and any and all are invited to list their irks too. All I ask is that a brief description be provided of why the irk-ful thing is considered irk-some, in order that I might understand (and perhaps empathize) too.  We are not likely irk-ed by the same irks.

These things Irk me:

  1. The term MOOC – this has bothered me since its first use, as I saw it as a shameless attempt at self-promotion.  It also sounds goofy.  Is there not a better term?  I am irk-ed at the thought that this term is now part of our vocabulary.  Yuck!
  2. When Grasshoppers fail – Yesterday I tried to comment in the grasshopper discussion thing on a colleagues blog post.  I signed on, and it was indicated that I was successful in signing on and also that I hadn’t signed on yet, so I couldn’t comment.  A conflicting message. I found this extremely irk-some, retrieved my password via e-mail, tried to sign on again, got the same conflicting messages, gave up.  Today, it seems to work. 


That’s enough Irks for today.  I must finish on a positive note!  I was happy to see Siemens provide a definition of Connectivism here, at the 7:20 mark of the video.  He defines Connectivism as “A Social Connected Pedagogical Model”.  I was un-irked to hear this definition, as I have wondered all along whether Connectivism is less of a theory and more of a pedagogy. It seems to me that Connectivism might better be described as a practice of teaching that finds its base in other theories such as connectionism, rather than a standalone learning theory.  It appears that Siemens is adopting this approach to it now. 

I would describe the Connectivist pedagogical model as the use of the connections afforded through digital technology to put learners and facilitators/subject matter experts in contact with each other for the purpose of advancing their learning and knowledge.  Then ideas such as constructed learning, self-directed learning, complexity, chaos, cognition etc. can still belong to their respective theoretical frameworks, and Connectivism can stop insisting on subsuming them under its umbrella.  I would be less irk-ed if this were the case. 

btw. I think that any followers of the theory ‘Con-Irk-tivism’ can now safely self-identify as ‘Irk-ites’.  Have no fear.

#CCK11 Con-Irk-tivism – Movement #1

In my previous post a new theory emerged. It is stated as:

“Connection (or re-connection) is contingent on the absence (or removal) of irk”

I have dubbed this Con-Irk-tivism as an interim, working title (abb. CI). CI theory addresses the issue of mental states such as desire, fear, passion, anger, hope, love, faith etc. through its predictive component. CI theory is a first movement beyond Connectivism, a theoretical framework that acknowledges an empirical perspective regarding learning while providing an explanation of agency as emergent from mental states summarized in the example given by the state of Irk.  The explanation of agency as emergent from Irk emerges itself from observations of the propensities of nodes to connect (and re-connect) in complex adaptive manners, and the self-reporting by nodes that the connecting propensities were directly proportional to the amount of Irk present in the nodes involved.

#CCK11 Moving beyond Connectivism

Is it time to move beyond connectivism?  Has this term outlived its usefulness? 

Connectivism seems to incite strong feeling, and it seems to create misunderstandings as to what it represents.  And represent it does – much to the chagrin I suppose of its ‘founders’, connectivism is a concept that represents a picture or perspective of a reality, in this case, the reality seen and desired by those very founders.

So what reality is it that they desire?  I think it is best expressed in this post:

This post summarizes the position of Stephen Downes in regards to network distribution. His position is that this phenomenon is of low value: 

cascade phenomena are generally better represented as the likelihood of the majority of entities in a network entering into a certain state

This ‘certain state’ is likened to an epidemic, an apparent appeal to the emotions to consider cascading as having only a negative effect. In order to reduce this effect, and circumvent the ‘power law’, the suggested remedy is to ‘drown out’ influential voices by increasing the connections in the network, as expressed in this statement:

Cascade phenomena occur, if you will, in a “sweet spot” where there is enough connectivity to permit influence and the propagation of an idea, but not enough connectivity to provide the stabilizing influence of dissenting opinions.

The result of increased connections is:

Communication from other people in the network overwhelms the information that a person might rely upon on his or her own, and that information therefore never informs the group as a whole.

By overwhelming the influential information that a person might rely on, and prohibiting it from reaching a group, we are left with the potential that not all the information reaches the group, due to the ‘drowning out’ of influential voices.  The internet needs drowning too:

Thus, while the connected nature of the web demonstrates a lesser tendency to cascade phenomena than the centralized model of mass media, the power law ultimately prevails even in this environment.

The cause of cascade phenomena:

Cascade phenomena, therefore, are caused not simply because a network of connections exists, but because the network that exists is not connected enough.

The goal then, is to create a network that is connected enough so that it ‘drowns out’ influential voices. Maybe this is achievable, but is it desirable?  Do the influential voices, that Stephen Downes wants to ‘drown out’, have something of value to convey?  One might want to entertain what they have to say, I would think.

Moving beyond connectivism might free up our thinking to find values in the very areas that connectivism would have us discount as influential and therefore undesirable. The connection of influential = undesirable, a connection that is at the root of connectivist ideology, is blinding the work on understanding distributed/distributive networks, and I maintain that we need to remove and move past these blinders.  As is well known, most ‘isms are prone to causing schisms, and is it the latter that we desire more of?

CCK11 Groups vs. Networks

I posted the following here:  (at the bottom of a long thread)

I’m still obsessing over this groups vs. networks thing, and this seems like a nice safe place to put my thoughts, no teacher figure about to slap my hands….

Ok, at 56:00 of the Feb 18 Elluminate session Stephen Downes presents his flip chart on Groups vs. Networks, arguing that the characteristics of each type of network are polar opposites, binaries. A group is closed, and a network is open, in his argument, for example. His analysis serves to divide networks into two camps, groups vs. networks, ineffective vs. effective, however, he does indicate that he has not empirically studied the matter, and hopes to do so.

The CCK11 FB group offers the opportunity for empirical study. This group exists within the centralized and coordinating structure of FB.  It has a property of distributiveness – there is a one-to-one link between a member and FB.  As such, transmission of information is rapid, cascading rapidly through the network members.  The group is also open – anyone can join (provisos – must have a FB account, must not be in countries that ban FB).  It is also diverse, members from around the world, operating in an autonomous fashion.  It is also connective, being democratic in that there is no central authority (other than the FB environment itself); every member is an administrator.  No one teacher exercises authority in the group, everyone is both teacher and learner, sharing what they know, engaging in unhindered discourse, participating as they choose to. It all seems to work very well, having a unity in learning about connectivism and other concepts.

It seems on initial study that the CCK11 FB group has all the qualities that Stephen Downes argues belong only to either a group or a network.  Is the FB group a special case of a network?


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