Wednesday, April 28, 2010

connected learning

Connectivism is a learning theory for the "information age" developed by George Siemans and Stephen Downes.

Here is what Mr. Siemans says:

All existing theories place processing (or interpretation) of information squarely on the individual doing the learning. This model works well if the knowledge flow is moderate. A constructivist, for example, can process, interpret, and derive personal meaning from different information formats…as long as the flow doesn’t overwhelm the learner. What happens, however, when information is more of a deluge than a trickle? What happens when information flows too fast for processing or interpreting?

Once knowledge/information flow becomes too rapid and complex, we need to conceptualize a learning model that allows individuals to learn and function in spite of the pace and flow.

A network model of learning (an attribute of connectivism) offloads some of the processing and interpreting functions of knowledge flow to nodes within a learning network. Instead of the learner having to evaluate and process every piece of information, she/he creates a personal network of trusted nodes (people and content). The learner aggregates relevant nodes…and relies on each individual node to provide needed knowledge. The act of learning is offloaded onto the network itself – i.e. the network is the learning. This view of learning scales well with continued complexity and pace of knowledge development.

He also says this:

Our natural capacity for learning is tremendous. We overcome many obstacles and restrictions to achieve our goals. It’s also an example of the short-sighted nature of some learning programs. The problem rests largely in the view that learning is a managed process, not a fostered process. When learning is seen as managed, an LMS is the logical tool. When learning is seen as a function of an ecology, diverse options and opportunities are required.

If you want to see a ecological approach to curriculum, check out the National Film Board site for Waterlife -- a deluge made up of a connected series of trickles where we can forage, explore and connect the trickles we choose to create our own deluge.

Monday, April 19, 2010

we're back!

Spring has sprung and TDSB LBS practitioners have sprung into action. Below is a message that you probably received last week. For the duration of this project we will use this blog as a place to post new information and resources. Also - check out the TDSB LBS Wiki:

Our new computers have been delivered to our classes and are being set up by our Technical Support Staff. To help you make the most of the opportunities that computers in the classroom can provide, we have arranged for individualized hands-on PD for you and your learners.

This training will be delivered by Tracey Mollins. Many of you met Tracey at our PD session last April, where she facilitated the Introduction to Online Learning workshop. Tracey has been involved in literacy and computers for many years and is the author of ‘Learning our Way: Women, Computers and Literacy’, and the developer of 16 AlphaRoute Online Courses for Adult Literacy Learners.

This PD opportunity will unfold in the following way:

• an initial meeting with Tracey will take place in your classroom so she can find out how you and your learners would like to use online resources to enhance literacy learning
• using the information she’s gathered, Tracey will design ‘hands-on’ materials which you can use to integrate on-line learning into your classroom
• a subsequent 2-hour session will take place in your classroom with Tracey, where she’ll introduce and model for you and your learners the materials she’s developed for you, allowing you to integrate on-line resources into your program to enhance literacy learning
• Tracey will make a follow-up visit so she can answer any questions you have about the on-line enhancements she provided

Tracey will conduct her initial visits in April and May. Your Program Officer will let you know when she’ll be visiting with you and your learners. Her subsequent visits will take place in the fall.

Adults generally have positive attitudes towards computer use and are eager to acquire computer skills for the workplace and home. We’re very fortunate this year that MTCU has provided us with both technical upgrades and training opportunities – these will allow us to meet our learners’ needs and fully integrate computers/on-line learning into their literacy programs.