Sunday, February 20, 2005

not the first

I'm not the first teacher in South Australia to start blogging

Check out some interesting material by wara at http://waraku.blogspot.com/. There is discussion on connectivism as an alternative to constructivism as well as some useful material on open source software such as GIMP (an image manipulation program) and the whole process of setting up blogs for students

Wara has been an open source pioneer and advocate for some time. Great stuff.

7 Comments:

Anonymous km said...

"connectivism"? That was a new word for me - at first I thought that you and the other guy actually meant "connectionism" but then I did a google saerch and found a whole lot of links to connectivism.

eg http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01
.htm

1:11 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

wara had a link from his blog to this article:

Connectivism:
A Learning Theory for the Digital Age
Here's a quick quote which defines connectivism:

[quote]
Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.

Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.
[/quote]

But I still haven't read the original article carefully - but it does start from the Big Three learning theories - Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism - and develop from there, so could be worth a close look

3:04 PM  
Blogger Keith Richardson said...

I also like to identify 'learning' as making a 'change'. When you have learnt something you are changed as a direct result of the learning happening. If we want kids to learn something, we are attempting to bring about a 'change' in their mental state that will be more (or less) permanent. To asist the learning develop or grow or evolve from short term to long term learning (or long-term change) we have to pull a few tricks e.g. getting the kids to re-construct a new reality inclusive of the mental change that happened so that it becomes a part of the 'new' person.
Such a philosophy assists me when as a teacher I want to help people 'learn' something. I first establish it in their short-term memory and using this also establish it into their long-term memory. When I realise that I am wanting to bring about a significant mental change IN THEIR BRAIN I am able to focus more fully on the 'learning' and less on the teaching. Keith

6:10 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

hi keith,

the idea that we try to make a permanent mental change I think will lead to a different style of teaching (perhaps called constructivist) than just a short term change designed to get students over the hurdle of the next test (perhaps called behaviourist - not that I would dismiss that out of hand)

I used to think of this in terms of finding the right "object to think with" or "powerful learning experience" - what learning "toy" or particular experience could I construct in the learning environment (which might convey a bit more than the word classroom) which might give a student an AHA experience

Some of these ideas come from Seymour Papert and also a New Zealand Learning in Science program, both go back a far way - I used to teach more in the middle school, in the last few years I've focused more on IT in the senior school - it is possible to setup environments in the middle school more conducive to the whole person than the more curriculum driven senior school, that's an aside

These days I tend to think more that teacher modelling is the most important thing - if the teacher is a life long learner and still curious about all manner of things then I think in a hundred invisible ways that will be passed on to the students

at any rate I'm still thinking about the connectivism article from wara - there are some genuine new ideas in there possibly and I need some time to process and integrate them further

7:40 PM  
Blogger Keith Richardson said...

Hi Bill - thank you for the link to the article: http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm#Top
I am in the process of reading it closely. My first skim read left me with the feeling that he is really onto something important, but I never take things at face value. Rather, I like to re-interpret them in terms of what I can use to value-add my perceptions of the educational processes I use with my kids.
I have copied the article into Word, am inserting my thoughts into his text as [kcr: comments] and will email it to you as an attachment. I'd be delighted to read your thoughts too.
Bye for now, Keith.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous km said...

Bill wrote: "the idea that we try to make a permanent mental change I think will lead to a different style of teaching (perhaps called constructivist) than just a short term change designed to get students over the hurdle of the next test (perhaps called behaviourist - not that I would dismiss that out of hand)"Behaviourist methods can certainly bring about permanent 'mental change'. Although behaviourists avoid talking about 'the mental' and focus on behaviour, hardly any of them nowadays would seriously refuse to draw the inference that a behavioural change is indicative of a mental change.

Anyway, this is too big a topic to be addressed in a short comment. But I think Bill was incorrect in suggesting that a characteristic of behaviourist methods is that the change is likely to be temporary - that no real learning occurs.

It's true that punishment tends to cause a temporary change - but behaviourists who know what they are doing use punishment very sparingly, if at all.

There's been some rather spectacular results from overtly behaviourist methods in teaching autistic children (the ABA nethod).... apparently complete transformations, even something that looks like recovery in some cases. (I can give references if anyone wants them).

I've also used behaviourist methods in teaching my own son (who has ADHD) and I've seen clear evidence of non-temporary learning.

Unfortunately there is a lot of misunderstanding of behaviourism - people think it is a method based on rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour - but this is a serious distortion ( and it has given behaviourism a very bad name)

km

9:28 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

km wrote:

"Anyway, this is too big a topic to be addressed in a short comment. But I think Bill was incorrect in suggesting that a characteristic of behaviourist methods is that the change is likely to be temporary - that no real learning occurs."
thanks for the correction and I stand corrected :-)

I remember now that the main point Marvin Minsky - the so called father of Artificial Intelligence and author of a book I love, "The Society of Mind" - raised about behaviourism was that it was that it could not explain creative thinking, hence the need for constructivist theories.

I've received Keith's word document with comments about connectivism and km makes the point that, "this is too big a topic to be addressed in a short comment".

I think the way to go is for me to invite guest bloggers here if they want to initiate a thread on one aspect of this huge topic (learning theory). I first need to check out blogger to see if I can do that, if so I'd certainly welcome a guest blog from either keith or km, since their comments have been so helpful

Nevertheless I will have more to say about connectivism once I get my SSABSA programme sorted :-(

9:58 PM  

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