This post is about the Massively Online Open Course on Connectivism and Connective knowledge (CCK08) facilitated by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. This week I couldn’t attend any of the SL cohort meetings, so I decided to participate in the weekly Ustream ® session for the first time. This meant that I had to face a couple of learning challenges.
1) I’ve never used Ustream, so I had to figure out how to in a technical manner, but fortunately it turned out to be quite intuitive and user-friendly, and the sound quality was pretty good.
2) I also had to get accustomed to this particular synchronous way (speak combined with text chat) of communicating. I’ve been using video conferencing for a couple of years now, but different systems and mainly as facilitator. There were between 47-54 participants while I was logged in. Speakers were Siemens and Downes, and Dave Cormier moderated the discussion – also by asking some of the questions posed by the participants in the chat. Ustream’s video option wasn’t used, which didn’t bother me since I actually find small pictures of people’s heads constantly shifting very distracting. Compared to my text chat experience last week, I found this session easier to follow. I think Cormier did a really good job, it’s not an easy task to moderate :-)
3) It was the first time in the CCK08 I meet participants outside my more familiar SL cohort, and I was a bit concerned that I might feel somewhat disconnected, but I didn’t. This time the context was unfamiliar, but I recognized the voices of both Siemens and Downes, and I’ve had the opportunity to study more of this week’s course materials and I also have some previous experience with this week’s topic (Networks). In the chat I suddenly recognized Jenny :-), who commented on my CCK post last week, but otherwise the usernames represented complete strangers. There was at least one more Dane, Ivrig (Eager), but I have absolutely no idea who that might be? Anyway, I did end up feeling connected, but not in the same sense as last week. I think Jenny’s thoughts on the difference between Network and Community as expressed by Wenger could apply here:
In the words of Etienne Wenger, ‘every community is a network, but not every network is a community’. In a community ‘there is a level of identification that goes beyond degrees of connectedness.’
There’s no doubt that I identify more with the SL cohort than the rest of the CCK participants, but I have a feeling that as the weeks pass by I’ll get more and more acquainted with the non-SL participants and ideally they too can become a valuable community of learning practice. Some of us did ask for Siemens’ and Downes’ take on the distinction between networks and community, but we will focus on that later on in the course, so more on this topic will follow ..
On a completely different topic, there is a question that keeps coming back to me regarding the epistemology of Connectivism. I’m not sure it will make much sense to others, since I find it hard to articulate, but I’ll give a shot – if nothing else documenting is a way of keeping it alive!
I don’t mean to suggest that I have found an epistemological truth in other theories, I don’t even think such a truth exists – the genesis of knowledge is far too complex, but I am however very inspired by my second PhD supervisor, Janni Nielsen’s thoughts on this. According to Nielsen we perceive and generate knowledge via 3 different domains;
No hierarchy intended by the numbers, but 1 and 2 also constitute the domains for tacit knowledge, and when studying Connectivism I find it hard to recognize these domains. I do appreciate Siemens’ distinction between Neural/Biological, Conceptual and External Social and I do think there are some similarities between these types of networks (Siemens)/domains (Downes) and the above mentioned. But … where is the Body in Connectivism, is it just a Cartesian container for the Brain (the Neural) or how is the Biological to be understood –and how do we understand these questions in relation to technology and especially the Web. Would it be plausible in relation to Connectivism to state that technology can provide a perception of embodiment ..
Hmmm !? :-( … learning really can be challenging. Embodiment is a core concept in my PhD project, so I do have to figure out what to think of these questions. Luckily I have 2 ½ years left to do so.