If you have a spare 40 minutes or so in the near future, I would urge you to take a look at George Siemens’ latest Articulate presentation on Connectivism. For those already familiar with his work, this doesn’t break a lot of new ground. But I do think that the way he lays out the case for these changing learning environments just keeps getting better and better.
I’ve said this before, but connectivism describes my learning process almost exactly. As opposed to the ready, set, go learning that’s happening down the hallways right now, it’s become more of a constant flow for me, a continual process of seeking and finding relevant information in and out of my online and offline network and synthesizing all of it to share back and extend the conversation.
What struck me even more clearly this morning was the importance of reading AND writing in this process. If, as George says, we learn by building networks, the construction of those networks can only occur when we both consume and create content. If we don’t take that step of making our learning transparent to the other people or nodes out there, we limit the collective intelligence of the group. We sustain learning, we push learning only by sharing it back and becoming a source ourselves to the community of learners out there. Learners become teachers, teachers become learners.
And something else. We really do need to stop treating learning as if it were an event, like it stops at the end of class. And we do this because we are focused on the content, not the process. I can understand how we got here, when it was much more difficult for students to access diverse materials for every learning style that would enhance what they got from the teacher in the classroom. When our students are still being measured by tests that require them to memorize information instead of employ that information effectively. But for those schools with genuine access, like mine, it’s not the content that’s important any more. A lot of content gets lost, fortgotten, or, especially today, quickly becomes irrelevant. We should instead be focused on teaching kids how to learn, so they can continue to employ effective practice throughout their lives.
I have no question as to the relevance of Connectivism in terms of learning in connected environments. What I do struggle with is the rate at which it becomes relevant to others who have not already started learning in this way.