The Balancing Act

Connectivism and Constructivism

Can you separate the two learning theories?  In constructivism you gain knowledge through your experiences, where connectivism is all about learning through connections and community. If you are in a community and making connections to me that is a learning experience. So are connectivism and constructivism woven together? Can you have one without the other?

As I read more and more about connectivism lots of questions kept spinning in my brain was, do learners that prefer to learn alone exist anymore? If they do, how do we support them in connectivism? The world we live in today requires teamwork and collaboration, so how do we make sure we do not leave the independent learner behind?

The positive side to connectivism is that learners can now personalize their education and because of technology resources they can learn from anyone across the world at anytime.  Thanks to Twitter, blogs, Wikis, Periscope, and so on and so on, we can learn without knowing our teachers or having to meet face to face. Now for some that works, but to others it may sound horrible. Since learning should be an individualized journey, I come back to my question from before, how do we support all learners through connectivism?


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Because of my all or nothing personality I always try to make myself come back to the question of balance.

I am a hanger outer (without the teen drama) and a messer arounder, and it got me thinking, how much of what I read do I actually digest? A quick search on handy dandy Google and I found this article, How the Internet is making us stupid. The author states, “People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read words printed on pages.” I immediately thought of how often I am side tracked or link happy in my reading.  Is it because of I am genuinely intrigued to learn more or is is just another site to check out?  If I am doing this than I’m sure my students are. Is it beneficial or harmful?  Where is the balance or is there any?  How do we utilize the information without being overloaded with it or just skimming the surface.  Speaking of skimming, I just signed up for a daily Skimm so I can keep up to date with important news.

With my PLN I try to gain as much information as possible and also be a honorable prosumer too, but I have to wonder how much of it am I actually learning and applying.  Am I just getting great ideas and storing them away in my memory filing cabinet with a hope to be found in the future, are they just fleeting or am I internalizing and growing from them?  In the same article  the Roman philosopher Seneca  is referenced and the author thinks Seneca “may have put it best 2,000 years ago: “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”” How do I find my balance in learning through my PLN?

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Now how to apply these theories to engage and motivate our digital students?

Coming from an elementary background I see this happening more in the class setting at first and then evolving into students experimenting to find their comfort level and their learning community. For example, creating a class Twitter account.  My class did this last year and my students were in awe when we actually had a twittersation (twitter conversation…I just made this up) with the author of the book we were reading. After that a couple of my students started their own twitter accounts and followed their favorite authors, building their connections.

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The learning theories aren’t new, but do challenge educators affective thinking. I think so often we the teachers let our feelings and attitudes about technology get in the way.  We are scared that we don’t know all the programs or how to teach a certain skill, so we let that stop us.  Perhaps we should expand our learning network to our students. They are whizzes with tech, so why not use them as a source.  The first training I went to of Jeff’s at Learning2 he brought up Google Ninjas at ISB, what a brilliant idea. Our school recently began using Schoology as the funnel that all things flow through. So instead of having our tech team train everyone we are dispersing the sources and having students, proficient Schoology users teach parents and teachers how to use it. When we look to non-traditional sources we learn new things and give them opportunities.

Another thing I thought about was the whole “Google It” directive we give our students. George Siemens asks some great questions that we need to explore,

How are learning theories impacted when knowledge is no longer acquired in the linear manner?

That is just a start. As a learner myself I know that I don’t gain knowledge linearly, so how does this change my approach to learning? What impact does it have?

SAMR and Bloom’s

I gave a presentation on SAMR for my school’s teachers last year and I’m familiar with the Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy , and again I come back to balance, or more so purpose. What is the learning goal and is the technology going to be purposeful in reaching it?  Is it always best to be in the HOT or can you over use Redefinition so it no longer is a powerful punch.  Does the technology for that learning goal hinder or help the learning? With limited contact time how do you manage teaching new technology programs, skills, and tools to students alongside the content? An experienced  COETAILer said it way more eloquently than I could, and also brought up the whole balance issue.

Because I’m a simpleton, I just don’t buy it. When should technology integration ever be typical, and what does educational benefit really mean?1 Does it mean higher test scores? Does it mean lots more fun?  Surely balance is in the equation somewhere, and hopefully today’s lesson is engagingly different than yesterday’s. If we, as educators, are shooting to be typical, then it’s little wonder why our kids are so bored.2

Our students are growing up in the digital age and I completely agree we need to teach them how to learn through connection and networks, the important part is knowing your school, students, and learning goals then figuring out how to best go about opening the connections for ALL learners.

Wow, I’m not sure if that post answered or posed more questions.