Week 3 Reflecting on How Connectivism is Expressed Through MOOCs

Reflection for Week 3

2-2-14

by Aleta May

for EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham

 

The most important point that networking on the internet creates in my mind is the point George Siemens made from his experience with blogs in 2000:  He was “able to connect with like-minded educators . . . eager to explore . . . but not finding enough colleagues within their institution to advance the discussion” (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens, & Cormier, 2010, p. 32).  No longer do I need to feel alone in my forward thinking, my educational hopes and dreams, nor trapped by limited understanding of how to fulfill these, because of nay-sayers who proclaim ‘if it were going to happen, it would have happened before you came along with that idea; there must be something wrong with it.’  Indeed, I was one of the first parents in my Oregon community to see education beyond a dichotomy of homeschooling or public/private schooling.  Our family viewed education much broader.  I went to the community college with my ideas, and they said ‘why not!’  So there we were, learning sign-language together; so there they were, learning how to paint using watercolors with people of like interests and of a variety of ages and walks of life!  Was not George Siemens and those he collaborated with able to step outside the box and create a new way to look at communication and learning?

As I look at the pedagogical model for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), I think of how the common core standards are a mirror image for the way of teaching.  Particularly, learner control, autonomy, and self-organizing within social groups to share and build knowledge.  Even the technology tools listed; “blogs, concept maps, videos, images, and podcasts”; are ways for students to think, reflect, share, about concepts through a viewpoint beyond themselves.  There is also a sense of responsibility when others depend on me to add my part; as well as a sense of self-efficacy.  As a learner, I need to believe that what I have to offer is valuable to others and that I am able to share my knowledge through discussion, demonstration, analogies expressed through art, poetic expression, and endless other means. 

Another reflection that stayed with me is that lifelong learning is more important than it has ever been.  After all, that is why I went back to college (and continue on), for a better understanding of educational technology.  Since this opens another area of endless learning, I am happy to know that one day, I can join MOOCs without cost to keep myself up to date in the areas of instruction (reading instruction in particular) and the way to weave technology into scaffolded learning.  There is so much overlap in that reading comprehension depends on discussion, written expression, and visual/auditory expression as in visual literacy; while technology is the open door to make that expression accessible, distributed to learners from a variety of cultures, economic situations, and abilities. 

Specifically, I like that through MOOCs, what I need can be learned within a blended group of people from a variety of disciplines that have some node of interest that can be blended and re-framed to meet the needs of individual members of the study group (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens, & Cormier, 2010, p. 48).  Networks are formed based on the same information, but that information is coded into each person’s network differently.  Information is contextualized.  This is where meaning is developed.  Meaning is added on to the knowledge source (Siemens, 2005).  I liken this to how people bring to a discussion their own schema (background knowledge), and while taking in new knowledge, figure which schema to attach that to, and for new or expanded perspective.

When Jonathan responded to me, I was reminded that a limitation of communicating asynchronously, is lack of the chance to immediately repair misunderstandings in communication, and the missing piece that helps me to sense a break in discourse.  In fact, discourse between people in different places, of different backgrounds culturally, different ages and walks of life, is very limited in face-to-face situations; much more so when communicating on the screen.

References

McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010).  The mooc

 model for digital practice.  University of Prince Edward Island.   

Siemens, G. (2005).  Connectivism:  Learning as network-creation. 

http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/self_efficacy.htm

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