It seemed that this week was significantly simpler than week 3.
Here is my mindmap of the bare contents (excluding the recommended readings) of the contents:
The full-sized mindmap can be found here.
Learning by engaging in this very distributed network
I valued the most how George Siemens’ described how he was learning, and how he described that in connectivism. This idea that we can now do things that were unthinkable, undreamed of before the 80s (i’m dating it back to the 80s because of this interview with Isaac Asimov) and that -even in 2017- many educators have not experienced, as George Siemens mentions, is very important.
The possibility of picking a topic, any topic, and going about searching for relevant information that you can organize for yourself is something that is fundamentally new. It was possible to do to some extent in public libraries, and i see most of the advocacy for them coming from that perspective. But of course, the multimedia that is the Internet is so much greater than any physical library can ever be. It’s so huge (especially in English) that, once you have found enough channels, you will feel a phenomenon that is aptly described as “drinking from the firehose”. At some point, you capitulate and hope that what you are paying attention to is the best and brightest. There’s no point in pretending to know everything there is to know, and that’s good for your humility.
This form of learning cannot yet pretend to train engineers or scientists that conduct research, but it enables the laymen to partake in the creation of his own learning and to become a practitioner of any field he feels motivated to approach and dedicate time to. It diminishes significantly the need for someone to be there physically supporting the training. It enables everyone that is connected to the network to become a learner, a practitioner, and from there make decisions regarding their more advanced needs for learning. This breaks down barriers and transforms lives.
The “100 people in the room” knowledge theory also caught my eye: The idea is that we can solve many problems if we can engage in practical, well managed, conversations. Diversity will be a resource. Problem-solving as a derivative of social capital: the more people are engaged in the network, the more probable it becomes that we will find the right “human resource”, or will be able to collectively find solutions to issues we face together. Now, in a traditional educational setting, at 100 “students” you start feeling anguish regarding how your vocal cords will take the pain, or abandon all hopes for representative participation. Online, 100 actually works. It’s a different kind of participation, one which, as George Siemens points out needs some kind of facilitation, giving “powers” to the participants: vote up, threaded conversations, and other tools.
The part of the discussion on Finding OERs that interested me the most was the discussion of “Artifacts”: This “document”/”picture”/”video”/”resource” that is super useful for what you need to do (give a talk, express an idea, share a concept with colleagues). I learned the notion of artifact when “Knowledge Management” was still in vogue, and using in the field of teaching/learning also makes sense.
The re-usability paradox, this thing where the larger the artifact the harder it is to reuse, made perfect sense to me. The OER culture, and the open education culture, more generally, do think about textbooks a lot, and i realize that in higher contexts, that makes sense, but i think that 21st-century educational resources will look less like a textbook and more like a kit of resources. There might be a very well thought sequence through the kit, or you (as an educator) might want to open the kit and let the students experiment and discuss their findings. There might be merits in both approaches.
I also enjoyed the wink at “learning object”, and “granularity” which were topics of choice a decade or more ago … good times!
Where did the education revolution go?
Thinking about this week’s conversation between David Wiley and George Siemens, it felt really tame to be replacing regular over-priced textbooks with free textbooks. So it was interesting that David Wiley would point out that the changes in educators’ practices came about gradually, and that the replacement was just step one. This is probably an accurate observation, even though it’s less spectacular than what i would like to see. Stephen Downes reminder of the Aggregation+Remix+Repurpose+Feed Forward aspiration of an educational model seems much more radical. Looking at the education systems’ inbuilt immunity to change, a slow and steady approach is probably more transforming (?).