Before this course, I had noticed that some of the major universities offered free courses especially in the Technology field but I really did not understand what a MOOC was. Now I know that a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) embraces the connectivism learning model. To better understand connectivism, here is a quote shared by Dr. Abernathy from Downes S. in his 2012 Connectivism and connective knowledge: Essays on meaning and learning networks. National Research Council Canada. Retrieved from http://www. downes. ca/files/books/Connective_Knowledge-19 May2012. pdf. Downes states that:
The idea that there is some body of content to be acquired or remembered is explicitly rejected; to learn in a connectivist course is to grow and develop, to form a network of connections in one’s own self. The model of learning that is based on instruction and memory, especially insofar as that model depends on a theory of knowledge as hypothesis formation and confirmation, is observably inaccurate and incorrect when applied to learning. Connectivist
learning is a process of immersion in an environment, discovery and communication – a process of pattern recognition rather than hypothesis and theory-formation. Learning is not a matter of transferring knowledge from a teacher to a learner, but is rather the product of the learner focusing and repeating creative acts, of practicing something that is important and reflecting on this practice.
With this learning model, not only is learning meaningful but every participant is encouraged to contribute and is engaged in the process of learning. Students’ opinions count and can lead to the beginning of new discussions or conversations as they share their point of view. Although I have attended a lot of web seminars, the participants were given very little opportunity to reflect and contribute to the topic at hand. Learning was still focused on the teacher being the source of all information and the participants were just consuming the information provided. I think what makes connectivism a great learning model is the fact that participants get to choose what information to consume for knowledge, process the information and then reflect on their knowledge in order to share it with others through blogs or social media. I attended and completed a Professional Learning Communities course and although this was very informative and enabled teachers to create excellent lesson plans, none of the input towards the development stage came from the students we teach. Since I am a technology teacher, I am using a lot of technology tools to ensure that my students get their 21st century communication tools. One thing I am determined to do is to ensure that students get to collaborate, contribute and share knowledge with others especially those with a diverse point of view. I plan to ensure that students expand their digital footprint in a responsible way.
Now that I have taken this MOOC course and fully understand what the connectivism learning model involves, I can not wait to promote what I have learned to other professionals in my field. I can not wait to increase my Professional Learning Network and I believe that the more we learn about the benefits of social media, the better off we are in promoting and encouraging others to increase their knowledge at a more accelerated rate than ever before.
My classes are currently using social media from youtube but this access is limited to the educational channel. Students are given a chance to comment but can not initiate any activity. However, I have found some social applications where students can begin to create their digital footprint while showcasing their work. I recently had my students create LinkedIn accounts and encouraged them to create a class related personal network where they can endorse each other’s skills and communicate with their peers. They learned how to develop and perhaps grow their personal learning network. They are now communicating a lot more and growing together. They can also correspond with peers in Blackboard as they discuss and share their point of view. Of course this is limited to the class but it is a start. These are baby steps towards building a personal learning network and beginning their life long learning journey. Hopefully we can get a lot more access to more social media tools. I am hoping that this non-threatening online podium will encourage so many to endorse connectivism learning model and more young voices and opinions will be shared. The fact that the public chooses what material to consume and whatever is consumed dominates ensures that the internet is now a level playing field where people are free to create in a non-threatening environment. I believe we will become better communicators when we continue to grow in our learning experiences. One of the articles I consumed earlier in the course stated that if you give a first year teacher a blog and ask them to blog regularly, they will become better communicators as they will process and review and reflect on each class, each lesson and their students’ reactions to their teachings. When these teachers blog, they will get feedback from their peers and will learn to better handle situations and I believe get a lot of “aha” moments that they would never have been exposed to. Their learning curve will be incredibly accelerated. We all need each other and no man is an island. The more we learn, the more we want to know and the higher the possibility of sharing our experiences. In the past, people told stories to their friends and family but these days we are so busy BUT find it easier to communicate online. Those that need knowledge will seek it out and reblog or share their experiences with others. I l learned a lot and I am so grateful for the opportunity.