W3 5101 – 3.1 Networked Learning Discussion (Brennan vs Downes)

My reactions to the critique of MOOCs (and by extension connectivism) presented by Brennan and the rebuttal offered by Downes is mixed.

Brennan discusses a possible gap in Connectivist thinking, and its expression in cMOOCs with respect to the experience of ‘technology novices’ and unconfident learners in cMOOC environments.

He argues that it is the ‘task of educators to help learners cope with these kinds of situations. You can’t make them learn, but you can certainly make it easier for them to learn’. According to Brennan,  this is done by by nurturing the sense of a competent self and he discusses various ways in which this can be done. What he does say, is that with Connectivist learning…these mechanisms don’t really work, but that you do need teachers one way or another. He presents as well, that to learn in a cMOOC you need to connect and to connect in a cMOOC you need to learn.

Interestingly, Downes notes that in connectivism they recognize that the teacher plays a much smaller role in ‘shaping the story’ than is usually supposed, and much of what the teacher does to ‘shape the story’ actually defeats the ultimate purpose. Downes’ attitude is that the objective of an educational system is to help people do want they want to do, for themselves, rather than a mechanism that gets people to do what we want them to do, for us.

I support the connectivist pedagogy in this regard as I am believe education, or at least higher education, should be more in line with enabling learners to learn what they want to achieve the careers they way. I feel curriculum design can have a flexibility to it that you can choose pieces of the courses that fit your interests (to a certain degree with practical boundaries) to focus your learning on. This requires a certain maturity in understanding that you have to ensure your learning is beneficial and not necessarily whimsical.

This is not something I have experience yet, in my teaching, as I am not teaching at this time. In my role as a Marketing Manger, or online communicator, I have experienced that you have various tools/messages to communicate with people which can be compared to learning. For people to receive your message…essentially, they are learning what you are communicating.

I feel there are some connectivist possibilities underlying my teaching future (online marketing education in post secondary) in that although I will look to ensure connection with my students and guide them through their learning, I feel that if they come to depend on me as an education as the main source of their reassurance and encouragement, they will be ill-prepared. Rather, as in this course, I would look to help them build their Personal Learning Networks to help them go forward.


W3 5101 – Mindmap My Learning Network

Who will help you extend your knowledge and who will impact the course of your informal learning? What resources will support your learning and how will you connect to them?

I am a little nervous going forward this next year as I am learning more about teaching and learning in an online environment. I have just resigned from full time work with a company that has an IT Department and various resources.

Funny, as I am writing this post from a small village in Costa Rica, our internet has crapped out and I am booting/re-booting the router b/c one of our internet (now both apparently) are down. This is quite a challenge as my only resources are to call the internet company, ask the owner of the hotel who lives in Canada etc.

I have a small network of web and IT related friends but not in a position to ask IT help.  I have used the IT help for my web server but that doesn’t solve all my IT needs. I often struggle with WordPress questions that I can’t see to find answers for.