I often come up with a great comeback line about 3 minutes after I need it. I like to think about things, let my brain process information and then respond appropriately. After reading Blooms Taxonomy Digitally and Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age I feel that if my thoughts are shifting they are doing so slowly and carefully. No surprise there, my brain moves slowly.
I found it fascinating that the article on Connectivism begins by telling us how rapidly information changes. “Half of what was is known today was not known 10 years ago” states the article that was updated in 2005 – 10 years ago. I have no doubt that there have been many incredible discoveries by some very brilliant people and groups but I find it hard to believe that the American Association of Training and Documentation have a reliable way to quantify it. There is a lot of information on the internet, there is a lot to be shared. But quantity is not quality. I am skeptical of some “new” knowledge. In the words of Darth Vader – “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you have constructed.” I am a bit of a skeptic and I think teaching some healthy skepticism is not such a bad idea.
I don’t think Connectivism is a new concept in our world. For example, the idea that “Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources” is certainly something we have experienced before. Our school systems have generally become more an more specialized based on the level of instruction (high school, undergraduate, masters, etc) and apprenticeships in the trades are built on the idea of teaming someone with little experience and knowledge with a specialized information source. What has changed perhaps is the where we find the specialized nodes and information sources. How can we vet this information? How do we know what is reliable and what is not? This is the crux of good Connectivism learning in my opinion.
I believe in learning communities. I know that there is wealth of amazing information on the internet. When I decided to try to learn to play the guitar I began by seeking out friends that knew how to play. I asked them for advice on good resources in the internet to help me learn and to offer me suggestions for getting started. They continue to act as a learning resources for me. When I am struggling with something I ask for their advice. I also found others who were at the same stage of learning as I was so that we could be a support for each other by sharing successes and failures. It’s also more fun to learn in community! Two of my three nodes have been available long before the internet existed. My youTube teacher could have easily been replaced by a local teacher. We shouldn’t forget about our more local and face to face nodes of expertise.
Of course, youTube has many advantages (clearly since I have decided to use it as my main instructor). Again, I believe that the most important way to use the information and networks effectively will be to learn and teach our students how decipher the good from the bad, the misleading and just plain inaccurate and to weed it out. How do we guide our students? How do we know for ourselves? We seek out more knowledgeable sources to help us vet our information. These are the exciting connections that I think can really drive our thinking forward. The chance to follow NASA Astronauts or the Louvre Museum for example. There are still experts in the world. There is still wisdom in the world. I think we need to choose wisely who we follow on Twitter, Google+, etc. We can connect with world leaders or world haters, experts or charlatans. Who we are connecting with is important. Quantity is not quality and we should teach our kids to slow down so that they can analyze and evaluate sources carefully.