Posts tagged ‘stephen downes’

cck08 Of networks and networked learning

This is Week 5 of the cck08 but I am still some steps behind the flow of this course. Just listened to Stephen Downes’ Week 3 talk on Networked Learning and his currently “definitive” eight principles of network design principles.

I am not an expert in networked learning but I offer some views based on my own learning/personal experiences. My initial response to this talk is that there are some interesting ideas about networked learning but I think there is a limit to how far you can take learning in/from networks based on what I have heard. 

One of the aspects posited by Downes is in relation to networks is the autonomous nature of entities in the network. The autonomous nature of entities is akin to treating every bit of connection (resource or person) as if there is value in them because an entity (e.g. a person) has “interpreted” meaning according to his or her chosen context.

It sounds wonderful to be able to choose your own professor or what to study or who to study with. This may well work within certain levels of higher education but what about kindy or school? If a child who does not really know what he or she wants, will this principle work? Will this be a lifelong learning experience of trying this or that – just pick what he or she feels like doing? Will this equip the child to be a fully functioning member of society? Will it take people to the paths of least resistance?

There seems to be that almost “magical” qualities in these networks that more good will come of it and people will learn and become experts and we don’t have to rely on one source, etc.  The more popular your connections or the stronger such connections will lead you to experts or expert resources. What if the most popular is not necessarily “right”?

Are all individuals capable of cutting through the hype and gloss? I wouldn’t think so. Would it be like saying capitalism is good and market forces will sort itself out! Well the markets sorted themselves alright and the global economy needs bailing out! Relying on the forces and strengths of the connections alone to produce a learning society brings with it strengths but also deficiencies. The internet and web is one big dumpsite: while it can bring into focus good stuff it can also bring to bear the worst society has to deal with.

Downes also asserted that if you go against these principles then you are moving away from principles that work: these principles support open access, open learning from every conceivable source/resource all round the globe – the future of networked learning that has to be. However I find this assertion a bit of a contradiction in terms.  If indeed the learning in a networked environment is deemed to be flexible and dynamic – so how can one person or “expert” declare that the principles should be followed or else… 

I don’t disagree that networked learning is upon us because of the pervasive nature of technologies and the internet: we need to engage with it and leverage it. Proceed with caution: don’t overestimate its strengths and don’t underestimate its weaknesses.

However, there are those who for personal, costs or other reasons may have little connectedness to the networked environment: perhaps they can’t or won’t connect. Some of these hidden people may be experts in their own right and not found within this hyper-connected networked learning sphere.  They want to stay hidden from the networked web. Learning in different forms/experiences will still continue for them, but perhaps from the view of the connectivist, lacking or wanting?

P.S. 13/10/08 6:40pm Just read ‘The How of Connecting’ from Jenny about her mom’s connections sans technology. Thoughtful post!


October 12, 2008 at 6:11 pm 10 comments

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