September 10, 2013 – The following image represents the basic tenets of my present understanding of the theory of connectivism and the principles of a community of practice (CoP) and a personal learning network.
Like the athletes, each of us is an individual in a larger social context (a random, seemingly ever-changing playing field), but our social interactions and collaboration within that context are a matter of individual choice as much as demographic or innate characteristic (like those who have chosen to play tennis as opposed to another sport) (Siemens, 2005, Wesley & Buysse, 2001). This similarity brings us into a group, each having a common desire to create a product or outcome. Those with whom these social interactions begin may become part of our personal learning network (just a bit of corny emphasis on the NETwork here) and a part of our larger community of practice that our shared endeavor hopes to inform (Lewis, et al., 2010).
In today’s digital age, information flows very freely (not too much unlike balls of various kinds whizzing about on all sides) (Hogan & Quan-Hasse, 2010). Additionally, in this information saturated age, the purpose of the game isn’t to consume each shot (or play the shot in a traditional sense), but it is simply to make connections, make individual sense of what we encounter within our community of practice, and pass on a few of those connections as we’re able (Annabi & McGann, 2013, Dunaway, 2011, Siemens, 2005) . It doesn’t feel like the purpose of connectivism is necessarily to play the game in a traditional sense, but to participate or experience the activity instead (Tu, et al., 2012).
Beyond the edges of this diagram, there may be many communities of practice: one for the football player, another for the basketball player, and yet another for the bowler. Each community, network, and learner, must negotiate the deluge of activity passing through his/her personal learning environment to connect with his/her network in a larger community of practice (Dabbagh & Kitsanis, 2012, Siemens, 2005).
A final word. I will admit, I have never been a fan of connectivism and I’m not sure how I feel about this theory from a holistic point of view. In other words, beyond using social media and other networking situations as learning tools, I don’t believe this theory is worthy of replacing behaviorism, cognitivism, or constructivism (each in its place, digital or otherwise, according to the order of thinking required at the time). This assignment in module 2, however, by explaining connectivism in the context of social media and personal learning networks, has been enlightening and helped me see a valid application for this theory.
Image Sources: Microsoft Clipart
Annabi, H. and McGann, S. (2013). Social media as the missing link: Connecting communities of practice to business strategy. Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce. 23:1
Dabbagh, N. and Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education. 15:3
Dunaway, M. (2011). Connectivism: Learning theory and pedagogical practice for networked information landscapes. 39: 4, 675
Hogan, B. and Quan-Haase, A. (2010). Persistence and change in social media. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. 30:309
Lewis, S., Pea R, and Rosen J. (2010). Beyond participation to co-creation of meaning: mobile social media in generative learning communities. Social Science Information. 49:351
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. 2:1
Tu, C., Yen, C., Chan, J., and Blocher, M. (2012). The integration of personal learning environments and open network learning environments. Tech Trends. 56:3, 13
Wesley, P. and Buysse, V. (2001). Communities of practice: Expanding professional roles to promote reflection and shared inquiry. Topics in Early Childhood Education, 21:2, 114