Connectivism…Google it!

Posted: February 9, 2013 in EDUC 6115
Tags: , ,

The theory of learning called connectivism, reflects the exponential growth and access of information in this digital age.  George Siemens (2005, April 5) writes that, “…technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn.”   It seems to me that technological advance has given way to a massive freedom of information.  The advent and progression of home computing leading up to the tablets and cell phones we have today has dramatically facilitated my learning.  There are variations on this quote and I do not know who expressed the sentiment first, but lead character Dr. Stephen Franklin from the sci-fi show Babylon 5 said it well when he said, “He who controls the information, controls the world.”  According to Siemens,

Where connectivism shares in the social history of other learning theories, where it shares in the emphasis on knowledge being distributed, there are still a few distinct points, and the most critical point is—a sequence of critical points. One would be abundance. Information abundance requires that we offload our cognitive capacity onto a network of people and technology. Secondly, the recognition that technologically, our networks are incredibly rich now, whether it’s a mobile phone, whether it’s a computer, whether it’s access to a database, but we’re seeing a significant explosion in how we start to connect with other people but also how we connect with data sources.

The abundance of knowledge and the ability to access it are a huge boon to learning today.  I am a huge Google fiend.  Google is my friend.  How times have changed!  I remember poring through my family’s copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica as a young kid, perusing those thin, gilded pages for information for both fun and for homework assignments.  I also remember how exciting it was when I learned the dewy decimal system and could easily find what I was looking for at my grade school and public libraries.  After that came the confusion of using the university library systems to find periodical and peer-reviewed journal articles for my college work.  Then along came Google.  The veritable universe at my fingertips!  It is mind-blowing to me even now, how amazing it is to be able to type anything…ANYTHING…in that search box and almost instantly have access to enumerable links which may or may not be what I need, but which nonetheless often lead me to fantastic places.  Google actually allows me to practice some mental creativity!  As an example, a number of years ago I was very active on myspace…remember myspace?  I wanted to find some colorful, cool images to add to my page and I was not sure how to find what I thought I had visualized in my mind.  I did not know exactly what I wanted.  I did not know what kind of art it might be, I did not know the method used in its creation, and I was not familiar with any artist names.  I had tried several searches but was not really finding what I saw in my head.  Then it occurred to me to start combining words that described the sort of images I was hoping to find.  I used terms like rainbow and whale, or glitter and dolphin, or metal and prism.  Every time I hit enter I was presented with a multitude of very cool images and gifs that were exactly the kind of art I wanted.  To this day, I often type a couple of seemingly random words into that Google search box just to see what comes up.  A few days ago, I was wondering what a Basset Hound and Scottish Terrier mix would look like.  I had never seen nor heard of one, but I thought it could be an entertaining sight and there just might be one in the world somewhere whose humans felt motivated to post his or her little comical canine mug shot on the internet.  I introduce you to Gracie May, the Bascottie dog.  Hi Gracie!!!  Isn’t she adorable?!

Image

I found just a few Bascottie dogs.  The point is that from my perspective, one moment there was not even a concept of Bascottie dogs, and the next moment not only did they exist but I am in love with them!  All on a whim!  Just now I tried rainbow goat and purple ferret and guess what?  They exist too!  Of course this is all playful and fanciful but absolutely translates to that which is more serious, useful and necessary.  The possibilities are endless!  I believe that Google has had the single most impact on my learning in the last decade and is a great example of connectivism tenets.  Steve Wheeler (2012, October 26) states in an article on connectivism, that, “…learning is lifelong, largely informal, and that previous human-led pedagogical roles and processes can be off-loaded onto technology” and that Siemen’s argument in contrast to behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, is that with connectivism, “…through the use of networked technologies, learning can now be distributed outside the learner, within personal learning communities and across social networks.”

References:

Dogster. (n. d.). Retrieved February 8, 2013 from http://www.dogster.com/dogs/1010864

Franklin, Stephen [fictional character]. (n.d.). Babylon 5. [Television series]. Retrieved February 8, 2013 from

          http://www.quotefully.com/tvshow/Babylon+5/Dr.+Stephen+Franklin

Siemens, G. (2005, April 5). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. [Blog post]. Elearnspace.

Retrieved February 8, 2013 from

          http://www.ingedewaard.net/papers/connectivism/2005_siemens_ALearningTheoryForTheDigitalAge.pdf

Wheeler, S. (2012, October 26). Theories for the digital age: Connectivism. [Blog post]. Learning with ‘e’s My

thoughts. Retrieved on February 8, 2013 from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2012/10/theories-for

          -digital-age-connectivism.html

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