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CCK11 The unique idea in Connectivism

February 11, 2011

I enjoyed the elluminate session today; I measure my ‘success’ in these sessions on whether I learned anything or not.  Today’s success included learning through the chat box that Neil Selwyn has some papers available for reading.  I’m going to have a look at his work a little more closely; I found his take on things refreshing, with a tendency to reduce the hype involving digital media.

I also was provided with the names of female Derrideans Irigaray, Cixous and Kristeva.  I really look forward to reading their works, and have put the links here so I can look them up in the near future.  I have just recently been introduced to Derrida and find him a tough yet engaging read, and it will be nice to get some other perspectives. 

And I learned how to make an emoticon in the Elluminate chat box!  Eureka moment, for me!  Thanks for all the help!

After the session, I thought about what the unique idea in connectivism is (the theme of this week in the course), and while I don’t have an answer yet, I think it must be linked to Downes’ articulation of the connectivist attitude towards the learner as expressed here (in about comment 11 in this thread): 

I agree, it “does not address the learner’s stated needs/wants.” And when you ask “How is this new?” the answer is that it rejects the implied contract to “address the learner’s stated needs/wants” that other approaches endorse.

This certainly is ‘unique’ as far as I can tell.  I was of the impression that in today’s world the expressed needs/wants of the learner were very important. Does connectivism stand alone on dismissing them?


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  1. Interesting comment you pulled out, Ken. For me it connects to one of the ideas that I still can’t really embrace in connectivism, and that is the disavowal of any agency. To me, a learning theory should offer me a more skillful way to be helpful as a teacher/networker. That assumes that us nodes can explictly go out to learn.

    Maybe it’s the paternalism of the idea that “we” (teachers) know what “they” (the learner) want and need that he’s standing against? I think this is a valid area of inquiry. But that’s a quandry, too. My preteen stepdaughter wants and needs to lie around and play Wii all day; according to her, this is the only thing that will benefit her lifelong learning: mastering Guitar Hero.


    • deadvocate permalink

      Hi Leah, thank you for your comment. I understand you regarding Guitar hero (has been replaced by FB in my home), I am in a similar situation here. I find that it is good to provide some discipline and direction, and I think it is appreciated, although there is often a lot of complaining.

      So, I think a little bit of paternalism/maternalism is not only a good thing, but is required, especially with novice learners. With (some) experienced learners, maybe not so much. I guess a ‘one size fits all’ approach is something I stand against. I think learner needs/wants should be listened to, respected and addressed, in the context they present themselves. What is the harm in doing so? What is the harm in not doing so?

      The agency issue is very interesting, and I think it has multiple folds. I think you are speaking about the agency of the teacher. Although I think that I have had some poor teachers in my life, I have also had some great ones, and the great ones exercised a form of agency, while some of the poor ones showed little interest.

      Where my views differ from Stephen Downes’ views seem to be in the area of ideology and values: he likes the left, I like the middle ground. But I do appreciate his position, and think that the concerns over control/agency/influence (CAI) etc. should always be in the forefront of a good teacher’s thinking, and that thinking should be cognizant and wary of excess amounts of CAI. But I don’t agree that CAI should be abandoned entirely. That said, it is incumbent on the teacher (of adults, at the least) to be aware of the influence they yield, and also to make clear their value systems, in order to allow learners to discern and make informed choices.

      My 2 cents, anyway…

      • I think the greater harm is in not doing so, or not trying, and so I agree with you. I wonder a lot about the perceived “safety” in a learning context. Not the safety of, say, worrying about online predators, but safety as in creating a space where a learner feels s/he can be her/himself, participate in an authentic way, and get some honest feedback about that participation. Although I’m enjoying most of what CCK11 has to offer, for instance, there have been actions and comments by the facilitators which make me a little reluctant in shared spaces like Elluminate. I guess my blog’s for that, then.

        Two more cents for our scholarship fund. 😉

  2. deadvocate permalink

    Yes, safety is critical. I was arguing for ‘hospitality’ in some of my posts in CCK11 etc. I can’t take any credit for this term, I’m taking a course where hospitality to learners is highlighted. I like the perspective and concept, it tries to make for a hospitable environment that welcomes whoever shows up, with whatever ideas they bring. I think all learning spaces should model that behaviour, and all teachers/facilitators should be watching their own behaviour in those spaces: teachers/facilititators exercise a lot of authority, and there is a lot of potential for excess and the causing of harm. Assessment can muck up the dynamics as well.

    Now, this thinking of mine is easier said than put into practice….What are we up to now, 6 cents?

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