The Reading/Reflection Cycle

A massive detour this week as I stall, and read forward.  My attention has been captured by the social network theory readings yet to come, and I have jumped (with promises to return and be more methodical) forwards.  This invites a comment about the design of the CCK08 course and my difficulty in making sense of it, as I rediscover what I have known before, that I am a big picture person, needing a destination and a map of possible routes before embarking on my own journey.  The lack of definition is what has stumped me until now.  Having browsed all of the papers (for content and context only) I am now ready to return to the start again because I have a context now, and a reading agenda.

There is a converegence of purpose here, as I re-examine the Advanced LIcence community and find I am answering my own questions of last week.  Our goal was to create a learning community online.  Our goal is also to examine learning theory and ICT in classrooms and PD with some emphasis on constructivism and connectivism.  On reflection now, I feel I can find neither in our Community, and this requires massive restructuring now before next year.  Feedback from previous cohorts demonstrates repeatedly that the connectedness is what participants value.  And the connections and networks that are created during the weeks of the community activities are maintained.  I believe we need to re-examine our community building activities, and rather than our current ice-breaker activities we need to focus on networking strategies – the result of which will sustain the discourse over the subsequent weeks.

And again, on reading (which needs to be deepened) I believe that our activities need to commence with a reflection on what participants are currently doing, rather than inviting them to learn new information with which to interpret their current practice.  On reflection that appears to be back to front!

So back to the books and papers now, with a map and a purpose…

My Second Life Build – a metaphor

My Second LIfe Build to represent Connectivism

Every prim is limited both in shape and size.  To create a structure that exceeds the capacity of each prim requires connecting, shaping and directing.  In this way though, the dimensions and shape of your strucutre are limited only by your imagination.  This for me is a metaphor for connected knowledge.

The choice of play structure is to symbolise lived knowledge with nodes and choices.  Whether living is vicarious (as a mother watches her toddler take risks and breathes deeply imagining the fall but celebrating his success) or experienced is inconsequential.  The father will live the experience as deeply in his own way when toddler and mother relate the day to him. 

The structure is messy, it is chaotic on first impression.  But explore deeply enough and a variety of routes to the top become obvious.  In addition, there are plentiful opportunities to descend again, both at risk and safely to commence the knowledge construction process from a different perspective. 

The platforms represent junctures at which the individual is in a state of knowing, and takes time to reflect, consolidate and operationalise thinking.  Some platforms are not yet fully supported – the construction of support is neccessary for it to be secure.  The ladder rungs and knots on the ropes are nodes of information (physical, abstract or human) that scaffold and support the learning journey.  As stated previously, every journey to each platform is experientially different, therefore the knowing on each platform can be different.  Of course, they are large enough to accommodate a number of players, each with their own story to tell. 

Inserted here and there are ropes and barriers to prevent the learner from falling, at other places, the danger is real.  I wanted to step into the territory of faciliating learning and ways in which teachers can structure and scaffold a connected experience whilst still supporting individually connected pathways. 

The original of this playground is constructed on my land – I have lifted it and reconstructed it here.  It will not be the same learning journey despite the identical structure, because the ecology, the space, the purpose will be different.

You may note that the structure is incomplete. Yes!  Where will it finish? The stretch into the unknown (the top platform) is unsupported – the first people to venture in that direction  will have to construct the support themselves, when that is done, their knowledge will support the learning of the next generation of thinkers.  But stop! That may not be the place to go or the way to get there.  Maybe the platform could be elsewhere, higher, lower, maybe a ladder is not appropriate for this climb?

You may notice that the build is imperfect, the prims not aligned, the bolts not altogether tight.  Yes!  The builder is relying on the strengths of others and their input to refine and tidy up his/her ideas.  Isn’t that part of the underlying story? 


Connectivism and assessment

When designing an assessment task for students, a key message is open-outcomes.  The sense that I make out of a concept is not neccesarily the sense that each student makes.  So if we are asking for individually constructed perceptions based on the range of perspectives that have been sought, we should expect and invite the chaotic.  What interests me is what we do with the assessment items from there – as a learning tool they are invaluable because they are not just ad hoc contributions, they have been researched, reasoned, reflected upon and constructed.  So as a final exercise, my imagination is tantalised by the result of collaborative thought based on the sum total of our perspectives.

Now, I wonder how the hierarchy would view such a chaotic idea about assessment?  And I love the concept that it is group knowledge that is important, not only the individual’s beliefs.

Connected knowledge and traditional assessment of learning

If we accept connected knowledge in our students, a whole new approach to the measurement of the success of that learning must occur.  It begs the question of assessing to rank students.  And if our assessment is authentic, it also calls into question our institutionalised habit of working in teams, and assessing individuals.  A big picture view is essential when stepping into these muddy waters to ensure alignment between what is known, how it is known, and how we expect this knowledge to be demonstrated. The questions I would be asking is not only what is known, but who knows it, and how is it known?


Some interesting perspectives, as I mark student assignments on, guess what? Connectivism!  And the capacity of these (mixed age, mixed ability) people to contribute to my own ideas.  Sometimes, I think, a non-academic, purely human response is as valuable as well-reasoned thoughts from an academic perspective.  Possibly because of the honesty involved in being reflexive and reflective thinkers about a new idea.  Hmm!

Comparing data

Before I read the suggested social networking articles again, my mind turns towards relevance to my own context – thoughts: (maybe this is horribly parochial in the light of globalisation!  But if I am working with a population I need to make links between the statistics, and therefore the relevance!)

Access the Symanted Online LIving report –

Whilst I haven’t looked at the statistics, beyond fear of security breaches and privacy, Australia and the USA tend to be remarkably similar.  Is this any surprise?  I will return and work through this data later … (so much easier being digital – I have 400Km worth of school visits today!!!)


What I hope to gain from this course

I have a networked brain – nodes all over the place that need connecting, otherwise things just don’t make sense.

What I am pondering at the moment is the human face of connectivism – what are the impacts and implications for individuals?  My goal is to establish clearer links between Transformative Learning theory, and the power of Connected knowledge to provide the perspectives that will enable a shift in perspective in my adult learners.  Currently, a couple of groups are making the journey (an amazing journey) – interestingly they seem to be the MBTI NF’s on balance.

Overall, my main objective is to establish links between MBTI, resistance to change, capacity for transformative learning, and of course, connected learning.  In particular, since the teaching profession in Queensland is predominantly wombats (,-AussieStyle&id=287448) ie SJ’s I am currently, for my doctoral work,  working on establishing links between these elements and the way we structure online professional development for teachers.

So why this course? Mostly because of the capacity to connect and converse – it is somewhere in the middle of these conversations (I hope) that the cards will start falling and the Aha moments will begin!]