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CCK11 Groups vs. Networks

February 21, 2011

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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  1. francesbell permalink

    Thanks for this post and the discussion on the connectivism site that you link to.
    I was fascinated by the statement by Stephen Downes
    “I personally don’t see why it would be objectionable to offer a course on Connectivism in the manner prescribed by the theory.” as it raises some of the contradictions experienced by participants in CCK08 and seemingly still in CCK11. I struggle to view connectivism as a theory at all let alone one that can prescribe the offering of a course – it might inspire and influence but not prescribe.
    Kop and Hill in their IRRODL article claim that connectivism plays a role in emerging pedagogies. My recollection is that there are differences between Stephen Downes and George Siemens’ views of groups and networks so there is no single prescription from connectivism in this area. In Downes’ version the binaries that you identify serve to prescribe norms for behaviour rather than describe forms of social organisation.
    I have an article published shortly in IRRODL where I claim that connectivism (writing MOOCs blog posts, etc.) is a phenomenon rather than a theory.

    • deadvocate permalink

      Hi Frances. Thanks for your comment. I’m looking forward to reading your paper.

  2. Toggle a node state in a network to:
    1- “receiver” or “learner” and
    2- “Transmitter” or “Teacher”
    create a community intelligence regardless if it is a group or a network because members are connected somehow.

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  1. Connectivism-2011 (per alQpr) » Blog Archive » Groups vs. Networks

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