Investigating Connectivism

Having casually followed the work of George Siemens for well over a year now, I jumped at the chance to enroll in the second run of the open course Connectivism & Connective Knowledge, co-taught with Stephen Downes, someone who resurfaced on my radar last spring when I was working on the NetGenEd Project. Unfortunately, I missed the start of last year’s inaugural effort and regretted it all year. So, I was glad that they were repeating the experience.

The whole idea of an open course with global participants fascinates me. While the course is based at University of Manitoba, and there are a small group of students participating for credit, there are hundreds of people just tagging along for the shared experience and the learning. It makes me wonder how rich any class would be with this kind of open participation of for-credit and not-for-credit students?

In beginning my review of the week one’s material, my excitement is growing. It has all the makings of a powerfully, transformative learning experience. Based on the notion that all learning is social and networked, Siemens and Downes plan to lead the course in a freshly conceived role of network mediators. Understanding that they each are simply single nodes in a sprawling, living network of co-learners, Siemens states an initial challenge in the introductory video.

“In our particular, technological era we can let go of a lot of the assumptions we have held to date with regard teaching and learning. We can have rich learning experiences that don’t take place in the forums that we tell you go to.”

What strikes me about this comment is that it is an authentic realization of the nobody-is-smarter-than everybody ethos, which is one that I hold dear. I also love the premise that if conversations are made a priority context is established by contributions and interactions with others and the material, another introductory gem.

One of the first items of the class was to post an introduction, which I did. However, I am not sure that I addressed the questions that was posed about what needs to happen for me to consider the course a success. On some level it is already a success.

Logging into the intial Elluminate session, I was pleasantly surprised that there were so many familiar names in the room. Instantly I recognized the likes of Dennis Richards, someone I have been following on Twitter since the New Medial Literacies Conference, last spring. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to meet him in person at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities this summer. Additionally, Dave Cormier, of EdTechTalk fame among other insanely great projects, was heckling in the chat room of the session playfully. Sadly, it sounds like he may not be quite as involved as he was last time. It is hard to remember, but I think I learned of the course originally from following his blog. I imagine a few other usual suspects will appear at some point during week one.

I just hope that I really have the chance to invest and prioritize the kind of time and reflection needed to make the experience a deeply powerful one. I always seem to have too many things happening at once. Anyway, I thrilled to be involved.

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