Activity 4.2

Both writers present a clear and thoughtful argument to cMOOC, but there hasn’t been anything Stephen Downes  (David Crosby look alike) argues that I don’t agree with.   Brennan’s arguments for self-efficacy and motivation (namely too high a cognitive load and students get frustrated and quit, or too low a cognitive load and students get bored and quit) is an argument for a traditional classroom.  In the MOOC environment I don’t think his position holds.  These are free classes, for motivated students.  In the digital age there are no excuses.  If a student doesn’t understand something, they have the tool to figure it out.  Actually, I would go as far to say, that teachers should design a “weeding out” activity early in the program to see who is committed and wants to be in the class, and who will drop out at the first sign of difficulty.

Check out these principals of Connectivism from Wikipedia:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Learning is more critical than knowing.
  • Maintaining and nurturing connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Perceiving connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

Could Connectivism even be a theory of learning before networked systems (internet) existed?  How many different opinions could a scholar attain 300 years ago?  How many different connections (between fields, information sources, idea and concepts) could a scholar attain?   Even the most well connected, dignified, rich student would not have the resources available to them as we do now.   But connectivism is for a mature student, most likely adult, who are already life-long learners.

In my future teaching (still TOC), connectivism could play a bigger role in a traditional classroom.   As Stephen Downes writes “to teach is to model and demonstrate, to learn is to practice and reflect.”  K-8 students, for the most part, are in the model and demonstrate phase.  Instead of filling the gaps of knowledge and content, the teacher then becomes a model and demonstrator for using the tools of connectivism.  The “teaching” becomes less content, and more ways of finding, analyzing, comparing, evaluating, creating content– all the higher learning skills.







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