Last Friday Elmine Wijnia and I gave a day long workshop at Rotterdam University (Hogeschool Rotterdam) on networked learning.
The group of 15 participants are alle involved in realigning the teaching at their institute to the digital reality their students are living in.
We created the workshop, starting from the notion that in order to be able to change their teaching, the teachers need to feel what networked learning can be for themselves. If you can feel it for yourself, you will be better able to transfer that knowledge to colleagues and engage students.
Workshop Connectivism/networked learning
Changing Behaviour of Youth
We started with a short theoretical introduction, repeating the to the participant familiar notions of Wim Veen’s Homo Zappiens, and ‘Generation Einstein’. Both describe how the lives of young people have changed, under the influence of digital networked technology.
What young people are doing is intuitively responding to their given surroundings. So what is their behaviour an answer to?
I see three quantitative shifts, that trigger a change in behaviour.
Those three, mutually connected, quantitative shifts are
1) increase in connections between people (due to network infrastructure like internet and mobile telephony)
2) increase in speed and speed of change (where there are more roads, there will be more traffic. Where there are more connections, there will be more exchanges. We built highways and cities for exactly the same purpose)
3) increase in volume of information (extra connections, create extra exchanges, along multiple paths and channels)
Quantative Shifts Lead to Qualitative Answers
The point is that above a certain point, quantitative changes cannot be answered with the same existing strategies. At some point conventional strategies stop scaling. The quantitative shifts reach a qualitative tipping point.
Three qualitative answers to these quantitative are:
1) A more pro-active personal role (as sense maker, as producer and consumer, as pattern-hunter, active sharing)
2) A different set of information skills (pattern recognition, social filtering, validation/authentication and evaluation skills)
3) A different set of tools (web2.0, social software) and work forms (open space, communities of practice, networked organisations)
Our youth have stumbled upon aspects of these qualitative answers, using the tools they find available. It is important to note here that this does not necessarily mean a technological or digital answer. The same effects are visible off-line, in other aspects of our lives.
Being pro-active, using network skills, and networked tools, also changes the way we learn and handle knowledge. This is where George Siemens‘s Connectivism comes in. He positions knowledge as being connected, and learning as building new networks of meaning, adding connections.
This has a systemic impact on education, turning it into optimizing the value of those networks of meaning.
After this more theoretical framework, it was time to take a look at how an average working day looks for me, and how being continuously networked is having an effect on how I make sense of the world, work and learn.
This makes the theoretical framework more tangible, and also introduces the use of social software / web2.0 tools.
Building Your Own Socially Filtered Learning Environment
The rest of the day (actually most of it) were spend first at familiarizing the participants with a number of tools and second at building a starting point for a personal networked, socially filtered, information environment. We listed 8 steps for this:
1 Connecting within tools (participants adding eachother to their buddy lists in different tools, this time primarily delicious.)
2 Creating a dashboard (in this case Netvibes or iGoogle)
3 Adding theme based feeds to your dashboard
4 Adding your buddies from the tools in Step 1 to your dashboard
5 Finding and adding people through themes
6 Finding and adding people through people
7 Actively sharing what you find
8 Actively sharing your own opinions, annotating your finds
Key point here is that sharing is a prerequisite to be visible to your network peers. If you don’t share you don’t exist.
It was a good and intensive day. We did not succeed in completing the entire programme we had planned, but I think we did get the main points across. We hope that the participants will be able to use the workshop as a starting point for building their personal learning network.
The sheets we used during the workshop (in Dutch but with lots of images):

4 reactions on “Connectivism Workshop At Rotterdam University

  1. Hi Ton!
    I’m not sure if it’s not your qualitative answers that cause some of the quantitative shifts?
    Is it really true that there’s an increase in connections between people? In other words: Isn’t there a quantative increase but at the same time a decrease in quality of those connections compared to “regular” connections? How do you define a “connection”? Isn’t it more important to rethink that definition? To raise quality not quantity? Especially by *rejecting* some new “connections” instead of using tools to “track” them?
    And is it really true that there’s an increase in speed and speed of change? This might be true in some places (communications) but what about “the masses”? What about those 4o percent of western-europeans who don’t even have access to the internet? Access to the tools you mention?
    And at this point I have to answer back: there is *no increase* in volume of information. In my opinion we’ve got a *lag* of information everywhere. There’s no “information overload” but often a lag of high quality or specific information. And I’m not sure if the internet – especially social media – will fill the gap?
    As questioned above: are some tools and connections the cause or the solution?
    I’m with you regarding the skills-question: the increasing choice (in communications and media – not information or knowledge!) needs more skills and *decision-making* capability than before. It’s simply too easy to say “yes”.

  2. hi Gerrit
    Good questions! The answers exceed the size of a comment though, and are more posting-sized (or actually they are important enough to warrant a book). So I won’t answer here, but will attempt a blogpost over the weekend to try and give you a concise answer.

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