SIMNET Weblog

September 23, 2008

CCK08: “What is Knowledge and what is Learning?”

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , , , , — Frank Polster @ 5:45 pm

Dear CCK08 and SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

I am still trying to make sense of Connectivism and within this week’s topic of Networks. I am revisiting my Week 2 question — “Maybe I am asking the wrong question and it is not “What is Connectivismn but the question is “What is knowledge and what is learning?”.

The readings on networks go me thinking of Knowledge Management (KM), Etienne Wenger’s, the theory of situated cognition and his more recent work in the field of communities of practice. KM is an area that I‘ve spent a bit of time studying and practicing. Part of why KM works for me is that it bridges the issue that Jay Cross poses on Formal vice Informal Learning and part of it is that KM focuses on the Human Performance (Joe Harless), the outcome, or the so what. I think the larger issue is that if learning is a life-long pursuit, then my gut instinct says informal learning, communities of practice (CoP), KM, and Connectivism are part of that learning process along with formal learning.

I say to folks, that 20% (at most) of what you learned about doing your “job” you obtained from formal schooling and the other 80% came from on the job/informal channels. I think we can do better in the 80% arena.

From a theory point of view I am comfortable with situated cognition (Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation). I’ve seen some evidence from the Games and Learning Society and from Jim Gee (Situated Language and Learning (2004) which places video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy and shows how they can help us to better understand human learning). I’ve found Joe Harless’s Human Performance approach effective (where most successful interventions on performance problems have nothing to do with training solutions but management practices and human engineering interventions).

Is it possible and is it likely that Connectivism is an extension of other learning theories like situated cognition? Is it possible that when Stephen says Connectivism is “knowledge distributed across networks (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that “learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks”— is that much different from John Dewey’s (1938) description of education as an essentially a “social process” where the quality of education (learning) is realized in the, “…degree in which individuals form a community group”?

In my simple mind Stephen and Dewey are describing networked communities of practice (CoP).

Thanks Frank

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September 18, 2008

CCK08: Am I asking the wrong question?

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , — Frank Polster @ 5:10 pm

Dear, CCK08 and SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

Well we are halfway through week 2 of the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Course and this Wednesday’s forum on Elluminate had a conversation between Stephen, George and Dave Cormier on this weeks readings Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge , Shifting Knowledge (from Knowing Knowledge) , Rhizomatic Knowledge (Dave Cormier). “What is knowledge” and “what is knowledge in connectivism terms” appears to me to be the fundamental thrust of the readings and discussion.

The discussion on objective knowledge and subjective knowledge reminded me of philosophic discussions on what is truth or beauty – interesting but un-resolved. I am beginning to think that trying to understand the theory of connectrivism will fall in to the same category – interesting but unresolved.

Maybe I am asking the wrong question and it is not “What is connectivism? But “Why is this learning theory or others important?”

I ended up watching a keynote address by Chris Dede at the 2007 Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning – “Emerging models of learning/teaching via cyber infrastructure” and he had a story that I thought that was appropriate. His daughter was about to enter college and she asked him what she should major in. He thought it was a gratuitous question since he was paying the bills but he surprised her by saying I don’t care what you major in. He continued to say, that whatever you major in, it ought to be something that machines don’t do well (e.g. history, English)

Chris had earlier discussed the need for literacy’s that provide you with the skills for problem finding (not solving) which are (1) expert decision making and (2) complex communications. His example on expert decision making was taking a car to the dealership and finding that it still doesn’t work after the machines performed all of their diagnostics. That’s where the mechanic/expert decision making came in and the problem finding. The complex communications example for me came from this week’s reading from Stephen. His metaphor was no one person has the knowledge on how to fly an airplane because that knowledge resides in connected network of folks and internet appliances – air craft mechanics, pilots, aircraft engineers avionic databases, etc (it’s distributed on the network). Problem finding will come from a person’s ability to navigate through that connected network of people and appliances. Stephen’s bottom line core assertions for connectivism (the first two) –

  • knowledge is distributed across networks (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that
  • learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks.

Now to another connected thought on what machines do well and are increasingly getting better at and the idea of knowledge also residing in internet appliances. In Wired Magazine’s July issue, Chris Anderson had a article, The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete. He suggested an alternative/better way to the scientific methodology (a method used to determine objective knowledge?).

He uses Google’s use of algorithms to find things we search for where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace tools like theories of human behavior, linguistics to sociology. “Who knows why people do what they do? The point is that they do it and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity.” For lack of a word for the methodology I call it the petabyte method which “allow us to say: Correlation is enough” Now, I am not trying to equate data and information to knowledge but it is part of the connectivism equation of how we learn.

So after all of this the so what for me came out of Pat Parslow email when she said –

To produce adaptive, flexible problem solvers (which requires education on top of training), it would seem to make sense to use communities to provide a wide-band range of information across a number of topics and let the mind of the learner do what it does best – pattern matching and prioritizing, and resolving confusions.” – Pat Parslow

September 15, 2008

WEB 2.0 and LMS’s – Do we need a SCORM 2.0 Spec?

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , , , , — Frank Polster @ 6:47 pm

Dear CCK08 and SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

I sometimes forget that the most difficult problems can be solved with a compelling business case. Take the issue of Web 2.0 technologies e.g. wikis, blogs, social networks etc that are becoming part of the fabric of the informal learning industry.

“LMS vendors are busily adding or recently have added wikis, blogs and social networks to their core offerings” says Bryan Chapman a long time learning strategist and a respected reviewer of learning technologies over the last ten years. The rhetorical question is “Why, when most Web 2.0 tools are basically free?” The answer says Bryan is “for years training teams have been working to eliminate content silos in our organizations so we don’t continuously wonder “who has the master content”. Without careful planning, we may end up with redundant and sometimes conflicting content embedded inside our core learning technologies, learners will be able to search the entire repository, whether created by an instructional designer or contributed by regular employee, and leverage the contend t across both domains.”

This sounds like a compelling business case and I don’t think we need a SCORM 2.0 specification. What do you think?

Thanks Frank

September 12, 2008

CCK08 – SCORM 2.0 and Connectivism

Filed under: CCK08 — Tags: , — Frank Polster @ 12:48 pm

SCORM 2.0 Colleagues,

I recently enrolled in an online course “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCKO8)
taught by George Siemens and Stephen Downes with 1,900+ other folks from around the world. What drew me to the course, besides Downes and the learning theory, Connectivism – was that the theorist is also “eating their own dog food”. The course uses those Web 1.0/2.0 tools (the LMS is Moodle, a wiki, blog, podcast, online conferencing video/audio, online collaboration tools, CMAP etc). The curriculum is rather straight forward in that it has readings, lecture, discussion and reflection.
The real differences from the traditional “brick and mortar” are the tools which have the common denominator of being Web Enabled. So far nothing really out of the ordinary from what we are thinking about for SCORM 2.0, or are there?

I know we are all probably sick of hearing the word Web 2.0, but I think it’s significance is really about the journey most of have been on for the last 20 plus years. That day began when we got our “first Mac” or Toshiba laptop, or when we “discovered the internet using Gopher”, or wrote our first program, or built/taught your first online course or attended your first standards meeting.

We have seen and will continue to see technologies that “have substantively reduced barriers to content creation” and increased “opportunities for continuous communication” and we have seen “amazing opportunities to experience a reality beyond what we would physically experience regularly” (George Siemens to eFest in New Zealand on The Unique Idea of Connectivism – available here at eluminate
George’s take, and I agree, is that “Web 2.0 is only just the current instantiation and we should not build education just on wikis and blogs that will fade”. Does anyone doubt that there will be a Web 3.0?
Something like a 3D-Web as an example which is waiting in the wings?

Now for the so what for me from George’s pitch that applies to SCORM 2.0
— Do we need an LMS? “LMS’s are a technology that forces a methodology or an approach to a view of learning on learners. We need an approach that gives the learner optimal control.” This thought runs through quite a few of the SCORM 2.0 papers, and deserves additional thought, discussion and consideration.

I am not advocating that we throw out SCORM 1.0; for the current installed base it works (minus sequencing), let’s just leave it alone and move on.

SCORM 2.0, as a principle will need to look at a loosely-coupled set of web services, so as fads fade (both technologies and learning theories), the enduring ideas will persist and we are not forced to throw the baby out with the bath water, re-architect or reengineer. We need a solution which is flexible enough to be able to ebb-and-flow with the ever-increasing speed of technology innovations (tools) and can adjust as learning theories and learning methods adapt.

Thanks Frank

September 5, 2008

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Polster @ 8:26 pm

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