CCK08: Mini-workshop materials

January 23, 2009


Ailsa’s Wordle representation of her blog posts is so cool that I decided to try one myself.

Yesterday, I conducted a mini-workshop on Connectivism for my colleagues at Open School BC.Here are the  Powerpoint slides and a handout that I used for the session:



I found Stephen Downes’ “Are the Basics of Instructional Design Changing?“, as well as George Siemens’ “Learning Ecology, Communities, and Networks: Extending the Classroom” and “Learning Development Cycle: Bridging Learning Design and Modern Knowledge Needs” especially useful resources for situating Connectivism in terms of ID.

Although the handout indicates “Is Connectivism a Learning Theory” as one of the guiding questions for the workshop, in fact I did not dwell on this item at all. I only had two hours, and felt that my time was better concentrated on speaking to the Connectivist framework in terms of its most compelling and convincing qualities, of which there are many! I think that two hours was enough to do justice to Connectivism’s grosser characteristics, and I think that the presentation was well received.

CCK08: Final Assignment: Connectivist Comix

December 13, 2008

Well, this assignment took far longer than you might imagine, which is why it is not as in-depth as it might have been. But I had a lot of fun working on it, and I think I am leaving CCK08 on a positive note. Thank you all for a wonderful course. I have learned even more than I can possibly realize, I’m sure…connectivist-comix4

CCK08: Concept Map

November 24, 2008



I enjoyed this one much more than the last one 🙂

CCK08: Assignment 3

November 17, 2008

Who are the real voices of resistance?

Ordinarily, we consider anti-establishment perspectives the voices of resistance. Who, however, are the voices that are resisting change most vehemently? They are largely the instititutions whose stakeholders desire that the mechanisms of accountability, order and control persist over time. The most powerful agent of social engineering is that of education.

I believe that there are systemically dysfunctional attributes in the education system, largely because those same dysfunctional attributes are core values that inform how we as individuals lead our lives. Speaking in general terms, we are molded at an early age in a world where desirable behaviours are praised, and undesirable behaviours are punished. Risk is discouraged, and making mistakes is frowned upon. We learn to feel good about ourselves on the basis of external valuations, and take this as the only de facto means by which self-satisfaction can to be realized. The tradition is reinforced in schools through coercion in the form of praise, stickers, useless dollar store trinkets, sweets, free time, field trips, movies and marks (Kohn, 1999). Read the rest of this entry »

CCK08: Assignment 2

November 10, 2008

“Conducting” Instructional Design

The origins of the word educate hearken back to the Latin root of the word, educare, meaning “to bring forward.” Instructional design (ID) is typically defined along the lines of “the systematic process of developing effective instructional materials.” Web-based technologies are transforming the educational landscape in both formal and informal learning environments. If the courses that instructional designers build are to remain relevant to learners’ needs, then the instructional designer must assume the role of conductor, allowing for the bringing forth of knowledge and learning in addition to the dissemination of information. However, at least in the K-12 system, the realization of this goal remains next to impossible due to the practical constraints placed on distance education teachers. Mandated curricula and the absence of time and support for teachers to gain expertise with new technologies limit the ability of teachers to explore alternatives.

Siemens (2008a) has identified a variety of “networked roles” (1) that educators may assume in the course of instruction: among these “metaphors of educators” are teacher as master artist (15); teacher as network administrator (16); teacher as concierge (16); and teacher as curator (17). In addition, Siemens also suggests that in accordance with these new roles, instructional designers are best described as educators of educators (18), providing technological and pedagogical support and suggestions to teachers. Read the rest of this entry »

CCK08: Reflection Week 8: Part 3

November 3, 2008

Qallunology and the Hidden Costs of Technology

Note: footnotes originally included in the following excerpts have been removed for ease of formatting and readability.

Derek Rasmussen, a former Policy Advisor to Nunavit Tunngavik, wrote the article “Qallunology: A Pedagogy for the Oppressor” in the 2002 edition of Philosophy of Education. Since its initial publication, I have not been able to find a copy of the article available online. In the essay introduction, Rasmussen states,

Inuit observations are cited in this analysis to help shed light on Euro-Americans, those whom the Inuit call “Qallunaat.” This term “Qallunology” was coined by Zebedee Nungak to denote what we might colloquially call “the study of white folks.” Given that the property-based individualistic civilization that characterizes the Qallunaat emerged in nineteenth-century Europe, the words “white,” “Western,” or “European” denote its closest parentage and its place of birth, not the skin color of its current adherents or its current geographical limits. In his book, The White Arctic, sociologist Robert Paine said that his one “message” to whites was to drop the illusion that they were “in the Arctic to teach the Inuit,” and instead focus on “learning about white behavior.” Qallunology says that if Euro-Americans really want to study something they should study themselves; if Qallunaat really want to rescue indigenous peoples they should stop pushing them overboard to start with; and if Qallunaat educators really want to study something helpful to Inuit, they should study why Education was invented, and how it is a result of the ideology of scarcity (1).

Though many are now familiar with the roots of North American education being derivative of Prussian military training (in fact, this is finally being included in introductory history of education courses in universities), we are perhaps less familiar with Aboriginal perspective on education that existed and persisted over thousands of years prior to European colonization of the Americaas. Read the rest of this entry »

CCK08: Reflection for Week 8 Part 2

November 3, 2008

Unlearning Pedagogy

In  an earlier post, I made reference to George Siemens’ model of a Connectivist learning design as being based on “learning ecologies” as opposed to using a more traditionally regimented scope and sequence for course delivery. I stated,

Siemens contends that designing for Connectivism concerns creating a design for the space and ecology of learning. What is new about this idea?

Stephen responded in turn by asking about my background readings in this area, to which I replied that I do not have a strong familiarity with literature in the area of learning design. Yesterday, I realized that the greatest body of educational literature (paradoxical as this may sound) with which I am familiar concerns teaching and learningoutside of the framework of compulsory schooling, teaching and learning. When I worked as a Learning Consultant for the SelfDesign Learning Community, the work that I did with individual families essentially constitutedsupporting unschooling or deschooling by being a liaison between families and providing assessment of learners that was aligned to the K-10 curricula of the Ministry of Education. Recall, if you have read my previous post on this subject, that the SDLC is affiliated with the Wondertree Foundation for Natural Learning. Read the rest of this entry »

CCK08: Reflection for Week 8 Part 1

November 3, 2008

Power and Illusion

In the Oct 31 Daily, Stephen Downes commented:

From my perspective, the power I (Stephen) wielded this week in forcing a ‘subscribe’ to the Moodle forums was actually an illusion of power. One student got it: “If Stephen hadn’t turned off the function as quickly as he did, I wonder if we would have taken power into our own hands, by simply not posting to the Moodle forums?” The power to do something else, to communicate using alternate means, to simply not use the Moodle forums, was always in the hands of the students – if they cooperated with each other.

I had been thinking exactly the same thing, but did not repond to Downes’ prompts to reply regarding the auto-subscription function in Moodle for precisely the reason suggested: because as an individual, not using the Moodle forum was how I chose to “communicate using alternate means.”

 In The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Volume 1: Power and Struggle (Extending Horizon Books, 1973) by Gene Sharp, the author remarks:

  •  Obedience is essentially voluntary (26).
  • It is not sanctions themselves which produce obedience, but the fear of them (28). Read the rest of this entry »

CCK08: Reflection on Week 7: Do you Have Your ID?

October 27, 2008

George Siemens begins his Articulate presentation on Instructional Design and Connectivism by asking the following two questions:

  • How we design for learning in a world that’s rapidly changing?
  • How we design for learning in a world where the individual learner has far greater control over content and interaction than they ever had in the past? (Slide 1)

I would like to take a step back, and first ask the questions, “Who is we?” and “Why is it important that we identify how to design for learners in a rapidly changing world?”

One of Connectivism’s greatest strengths is that it “challenges the perceived linearity often found in learning design theory (Slide 11).”  By extension, the Connectivist framework seeks to “design for adaptability, not mechanistic views” through the use of patterning and wayfinding to refine sensemaking skills (Slide 12). The challenge then remains, how do we “achieve particular outcomes through distributed approaches (Slide 13) ?” Siemens expands on this question with three more:

  • How do we deal with and design for learning that occurs in a complex, chaotic environment?
  • How do we communicate a message that’s much more fragmented than it’s ever been in the past?
  • How do we create learning to ensure that individual participants continue to stay current even when core knowledge within a particular field changes? (Slide 14) Read the rest of this entry »

CCK08: Reflection on Week 6: Part 2

October 27, 2008

1. Notes on “Complexity and Information Overload in Society: why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control” by Francis Heylighen

The basic premiss of Heylighen’s paper concerns identifying the impact of ephemeralization on global systems.

Ephemeralization, the ongoing increase in efficiency or productivity of all processesinvolving matter, energy and information, is the most basic manifestation oftechnological and organizational advance (17).

Both of Heylighen’s papers are predisposed to an optimistic view of the future. It would appear that the author is a strong proponent of globalization, without, however, rigorously defending its criticisms.

People find it ever moredifficult to cope with all the new information they receive, constant changes in theorganizations and technologies they use, and increasingly complex and unpredictableside-effects of their actions. This leads to growing stress and anxiety, fuels variousgloom and doom scenarios about the future of our planet, and may help explain theincreasingly radical movements against globalization [my italics] (1).

Perhaps in theory, the reduction of international tariffs in the interests of encouraging trade makes sense; however, the legalities of these agreements are often ratified at the expense of the natural world, local sustainable economies, and indigenous cultures, none of which Heylighen has acknowledged.

…Both the area of land and amount of human effort needed to produce agiven amount of food has been reduced to a mere fraction of what it was. As a result, theprice of food in real terms has declined with 75% over the last half century (WorldResources Institute, 1998). In the same period, the fuel consumption of cars hasdecreased just as spectacularly, while their speed, power and comfort have increased (3).

Ironically, Heylighen cites both advances in agriculture (leading to a decrease in food prices) and fuel consumption in the same breath. We know now that fuel consumption has increased in North America with an increase in the purchase of SUVs, and that the implementation of government policies that support increased production of biofuel has led to a decrease in the growth of grain products for food worldwide, especially rice. This had led to an increase in the price of those food staples, which in some countries, such as Haiti, has led to riots among the populace, which was suffering from high rates of poverty even prior to the spike in the price of grain. Read the rest of this entry »