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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reflecting on Stephen Downe's presentation

#cmc11 I'm still thinking about Stephen Downe's discussion about connectivism. He certainly uses terminology differently than I've sued it previously.  But, what he says makes lots of sense. Think of learning a language- one can memorize words, but, unless someone has made the connections through immersion, one can understand very little from a real conversation.

I mentioned my improving at Scrabble from practicing on my ipad app. I could spend days studying new words with little effect on my score.  That's because studying a dictionary does not provide learning in s connectivist way. 

I do think there are connections bewteen connectivist learning and deep learning.

Here's another example- one of my first jobs was working with hearing impaired students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Is sign language a visualization of connectivism? In a research project I did, we interviewed some students using ASL, not signed English. I was fascinated by how ASL uses space to connect ideas and things in physical space. If I relaxed and immersed myself in their language, I understood!

As I said in the chat box during the session, connectivism has lots of implications for assessment.  I definitely need to reflect more on this aspect of the theory.


  1. I would be interested to learn what terms I use differently from what you are used to, and how the usage differs. Much appreciated.

  2. I feel that a lot of today's education is set in a very linear manner. If children don't follow what guidelines are set out for them, they are medicated to do so. I feel like the opened communication and learning is a wonderful step in the right direction for the future generations.

    I also agree that I find myself tangled and confused at times because of the terms being used to describe the MOOC. It may be because I am not familiar with computer programming and things of that nature and a lot of the references made reflect those things.

  3. Hi Betty,

    Yes, memorising a dictionary doesn't really mean you get a feel of the language and culture nor will it make you learn a language. But it can help you find the basics when in a foreign country or online and break-the ice and bring people together (accidents however can and do happen). Even the use of a few words or phrases can make a huge difference to human multi- and cross-cultural communication and conversation.

    What I think is needed is context, that is why we have stopped teaching languages through memorisation of words and phrases and grammatical structures and have adopted a more immersive language and culture learning experience. Technology has added another dimension and opportunity to language learning which is great.

    Speak again soon

  4. #cmc11 In response to Stephen's question about my comment on terminology- Although I have read enough about computer networks to have a basic understanding of how they function, I've not applied this knowledge before to human learning, at least not to the extent that Stephen did in his talk. It makes sense, since the brain is a complex network, though. I also have not thought before of social learning as externalist either.