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Imperatives of Connectivism: Connected Specialization & ‘Bridging’ Social Capital

Posted by Simon on January 24, 2011

Connectivism is a new learning theory that supersedes – doesn’t completely replace – traditional theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. The claim is that it is more suited to the increasingly fast, complex, informationally explosive and digitally wired world we live in. Seems a good enough reason for a new learning theory!

Keith Hamon, in the second live session of CCK11 last Friday wrote in the chat: “I think the growth of specialized expertise has increased the need for a theory of connectivism if society is to avoid devolving into discrete silos of “blind knowledge,” disconnected from the environment that needs and uses that knowledge.”

I completely agree with him and think it’s an important aspect of Connectivism to keep probing. I sense that Connectivism proposes an imperative that people and groups stay connected with different people and groups. It’s an imperative, not an inevitability. I hear a lot of idealists say that if we’re connected, if physical or technological barriers are broken down, then this wonderful global community will appear. Well of course that ain’t gonna happen while actual human beings are involved. Silos of “blind knowledge”, or groupthink ironically have more potential to arise as access to networks enables people choose their one source of news and information and are fed and led via engines to their own preferences.

So there’s an imperative for deep specialization – that comes tight focus in one field – to apply itself to the wider context of the world in which it exists.

Since we’re still dealing with human beings here (I hope!), it may be instructive to look at the research into social capital, and the distinctives of ‘bonding’ and ‘bridging’ social capital. Those concepts may help us assess the health of those ‘siloed’ groups of connected individuals, and also the health of the wider network of groups. “Health” will have to be defined in some ways, of course, and that may already be a departure from Connectivism which seems happy just with the mere existence of connectedness and says nothing about the quality of that connectedness.

Posted in CCK11, Connectivism | 6 Comments »

Implications of Connectivism in the Workplace

Posted by Simon on January 21, 2011

One of my interests in Connectivism is rooted in my work – researching, creating and supporting the kind of workplace learning that leads to better performance (however defined).

In George Siemens’ authoritative overview of “Connectivism – A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, while acknowledging that Connectivism has implications for all of life he identifies these implications specifically:

  • Management and leadership. The management and marshalling of resources to achieve desired outcomes is a significant challenge. Realizing that complete knowledge cannot exist in the mind of one person requires a different approach to creating an overview of the situation. Diverse teams of varying viewpoints are a critical structure for completely exploring ideas. Innovation is also an additional challenge. Most of the revolutionary ideas of today at one time existed as a fringe element. An organizations ability to foster, nurture, and synthesize the impacts of varying views of information is critical to knowledge economy survival. Speed of “idea to implementation” is also improved in a systems view of learning.
  • Media, news, information. This trend is well under way. Mainstream media organizations are being challenged by the open, real-time, two-way information flow of blogging.
  • Personal knowledge management in relation to organizational knowledge management
  • Design of learning environments

The traditional locus for ‘learning’ in corporations has been the L&D (Learning – or Training – and Development) department within Human Resources. When most people in a corporation think of ‘learning’ or if they have a skill deficit, they think of L&D as the first place to go. Everyone does it; L&D people themselves, line leaders & individual contributors, everyone.

If it is true that “Chaos is a new reality for knowledge workers” and that “Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge.” (quoting Karen Stephenson) – then it is imperative that corporations change how they think of and enable workplace learning.

I’ll be intensely scrutinizing Connectivism over the next few weeks, and testing the implications for workplace learning. It seems revolutionary, not evolutionary, so it seems to bring chaos. My challenge will to see find ways to help corporations change without the violence of revolution and without the naturally-selected death of evolution!

Posted in CCK11, Connectivism | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Connectivism and Connected Knowledge 2011

Posted by Simon on January 18, 2011

I’m about to launch into a 12-week MOOC – a Massive Online Open Course – called “Connectivism and Connected Knowledge”, run by Stephen Downes and George Siemens.

I had the privilege of speaking with George Siemens about Connectivism last year while doing some research for at work on “Principles of Workplace Learning”. I also wrote a post on the topic in the broader context of relationships.

The course promises to wonderfully nourish my work (workplace learning, performance improvement), my interest in technology, my personal focus on relational thinking, and my general pondering on questions of epistemology, power and authority. I’m very interested in the process, especially as we consider at work how to enable a way of learning that’s necessary for 21st Century corporations to thrive. I’m also very keen to observe to what degree the course itself is an example of Connectivism and to what degree traditional modes and philosophies of learning are necessary for ‘learning’ to have occurred over the 12 weeks.

I’ll be joining several hundred other people (it really is Massive) from all around the world. I can’t wait! And here’s hoping I can keep up! For more details, check out here, and follow on twitter using #CCK11. And why not join in? Here’s what the course will cover.

Week 1: Connectivism?
Week 2: Patterns
Week 3: Knowledge
Week 4: Unique?
Week 5: Groups, Networks
Week 6: PLENK
Week 7: Adaptive Systems
Week 8: Power & Authority
Week 9: Openness
Week 10: Net Pedagogy
Week 11: Research & Analytics
Week 12: Changing views

Posted in CCK11, Connectivism, Learning | Leave a Comment »

 
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