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C is for Connectedness, Comments, Curation, Collaboration and Constructivism

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 07:44

  • Comments
  • Grainné Conole
  • Connectedness
  • Constructed Learning
  • Cognitive Learning
  • Communities of Practice
  • Curation
  • Cognitive Overload
  • Collaboration
  • Complexity Theory
  • Constructed Knowledge
  • Csicksentmihalyi
  • Creative Commons
  • Crowd Sourcing
  • Cox
  • City & Guilds
  • Composting

Connectedness, Comments, Curation and Collaboration are interrelated: you get 'connectedness', a George Siemens coined term, as a result of curation (putting content online) which garners comments and thus creates collaboration. Comments bring like minds together and the learning experience is enhanced as a result. 

Prof Grainné Conole would be in any 'who's who of e-learning' along with a couple of dozen others. Follow her blog, read her many books and papers. I can't think that there is an MAODE module where she does not have an influence.

I've added cognitive overload as a warning really; some modules and e-learning tries to hard. Less is best. I love Rosetta Stone as a language learning platform as it keeps it simple - like playing with coloured bricks, whereas some modules I have done become unduly complex, with too many 'optional' activities and extra reading which simply adds to the complexity. Our educators are there to make choices for us.

Csicksentmihalyi isn't taught in the MAODE modules, though he ought to be. I came across him in an MBA module on creativity, innovation and change. Csicksentmihalyi coined the phrase 'in the flow' and neatly explains that balance between boredom and stress that is cured by further learning and training so that we are challenged and progress.

City & Guilds I've added as with their acquisition of Kineo, an e-learning agency, they have become a global learning and development provider online as well as off. The OU has baulked at being a global player, pulling out of Europe and resisting developing further afield. Other players, Phoenix comes to mind, are becoming global universities.

'Composting' is an odd one without explanation - it is my term to describe the need for space in learning, that whatever it is you learn takes time to bed down. It matters to me that students take two to three years to master their subject. The modular nature of OU courses may be convenient, and the 'end of year' or 'end of course' exam largely avoid, but I feel this is a significant loss. The final written exams, by their nature, galvanise your effort and pull your thinking together and produce a lasting effect. 

Communities of Practice

Wenger (1998) identifies three essential features:

  • mutual engagement

  • a joint enterprise

  • a shared repertoire.

Engaging in practice over a period of time develops a shared repertoire of practices,

understandings, routines, actions, and artefacts (Wenger 1998).

Participation in communities of practice is not only about learning to do, but as a part of doing, it is about learning to be (Lave and Wenger 1991)

Firstly, it shifts the focus from teaching to learning and the practices the learner engages in (Adler 1998).

Secondly, it recharacterises the role of the teacher as not primarily being a holder of knowledge but an expert in the practices of a subject based community. The teacher exemplifies for the learner how to legitimately participate in these practices.

Thirdly, as a situated theory of learning it helps to explains the issue of a lack of ‘transfer’ of knowledge from school to non-school contexts (see Evans 2000; Lave 1988; Lerman 1999, for a discussion of this issue).

Fourthly, it recognises the intimate connection between the ‘subject’ practices and the pedagogical practices and therefore helps us to understand why different pedagogies not only influence the amount that is learned but also what is learned. The acquisition (Lave 1988) or representational model (Seely Brown and Duguid 1989) of learning in school contexts distinguishes between what the students are to learn or to ‘acquire’, and the means by which this learning occurs. A division is made between subject and pedagogy.

Fifthly, it highlights the extent to which educators are not imparting knowledge nor even only helping their students to engage in particular social practices but rather to become particular types of human beings. Thus it opens avenues of inquiry to understand learners' patterns of identification and non-identification with schools mathematics (see for example, Boaler 2000)

The community of practice model, based on the metaphor or actuality of apprenticeship learning identifies three basic positions that participants take up.

These can be referred to in the following way:

  • master/old-timer/expert,

  • journeyman/established-member/adept,

  • apprentice/newcomer/novice.


Adler, J. (1998) "Lights and limits: Recontextualising Lave and Wenger to theorise knowledge ofteaching and of learning school mathematics." In Situated Cognition and the Learning of Mathematics, ed. Anne Watson, 161-177. Oxford: Centre for Mathematics Education, University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies.

Boaler, J. (2000) "Mathematics from another world: Traditional communities and the alienation of learners." Journal of Mathematical Behaviour 18, no. 3: 379-397.

Boylan, M (2004) Questioning (in) school mathematics: Lifeworlds and ecologies of practice PhD Thesis. Sheffield Hallam University

Herting, K (2006) Balancing on a thin line - Thoughts from a study of Swedish voluntary leaders in children’s football. AARE’s 36th Annual International Education Research Conference Adelaide Australia November 27 -30 2006

Lave, J, and Wenger.E (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lemke, J. (1997) "Cognition, context, and learning: A social semiotic perspective." In Situated Cognition: Social, Semiotic, and Psychological Perspectives, ed. David Kirshner and JamesWhitson, 37-56. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Lerman, S. (1998) "Learning as social practice: An appreciative critique." In Situated

Cognition and the Learning of Mathematics, ed. Anne Watson, 33-42. Oxford: Centre for

Mathematics Education, University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies.

Seely Brown, J, and P. Duguid. (1991) Organisational learning and communities of practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation. Accessed November 2000. Available from http://www.parc.xerox.com/ops/members/brown/papers/orglearning.htm.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Conole, G. (2011) ‘Stepping over the edge: the implications of new technologies for education’ in Lee, M.J.W. and McLoughlin, C. (eds) Web 2.0-based E-learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, Hershey

Conole, G. (2004). E-learning: the hype and the reality. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 12

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2

Despite the rhetoric of the content industry, the most valuable contribution to our economy comes from connectivity, not content’. Lawrence Lessig (2008:89) CF Andrew Odlyzko ‘Content is not King’.

Calvani, A. (2009). Connectivism: new paradigm or fascinating pot-pourri?. Journal of E-learning and Knowledge Society, 4(1).

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,9(3).

Connectivism: Its place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning

de Waard, I. (2011). Explore a new learning frontier: MOOCs. Retrieved from Learning Solutions Magazine website: http://bit. ly/mSi4q

Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction. 2nd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the Mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematic development. Educational Researcher, 23 (7), pp. 13-20

Fosnot, C. T. (1996). (Ed.) Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Jonassen, D. H. (1992). Evaluating constructivist learning. In T. M. Duffy, & D. H. Jonassen (eds), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.

Piaget, J. (1985). The equilibration of cognitive structures. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional Design. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Von Glaserfeld (1992). Constructivism reconstruction: A reply to Suchting. Science and Education, 1, 379-384.

Vyogtsky, L. S. (1979). Consciousness as a problem in the psychology of behavior.Soviet Psychology, 17 (4), 3-35. (Original work published in 19-24).

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychology process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original published in 1930).

Wertsch, J. V. (1992). L. S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28 *4), 548-557. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published 1962).


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Design Museum

Amanda Palmer: Share, share alike and ask

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:44

Fig. 1. Amanda Palmer TED Talk

A fellow student on H818 The networked Practitioner found this 13 minute TED talk from Amanda Palmer who secured $1.2m in crowdsouring to record an album. I reflect on the significance of her life story and perspective on asking for, trusting and giving. It isn't a collaborative endeavour where the crowd take part, but rather closer to a performer seeking recompense from an audience that permits them to do more of the same.

I doubt 'crowd funding' will kill of the X Factor.

Personaly I get what she is saying and will press on with a crowd sourcing project - a few people saying they'd put in $200 encourages me. I need to raise about $20,000 to digitise video 'archive' I shot as an undergraduate in the 1980s. That's just the start of it. Self-funding short-films that cost £10,000 to make for £500 TV rights doesn't work for anyone. In 1999 when I started to blog 'we' paired up with a designer who did the platform and coding for free ... but we'd ask for donations.

These generally came from the same people who were trying to make a go of this new medium so I guess the funds were circulating in a closed community - or, what I think is the case, for those who create there are 96% others who partake, or consume.

Like the trobadors.

What Amanda Palmer expresses IS common to much that is created on the web, certainly, for its earliest days of 'share and share alike' that I had felt had long gone. This sense of connection with people though comes from pleasing that fraction of a huge population.

Fig.2. Amanda Palmer in her days as the 8ft Bride living statue

Personally I have never given money to a living statue, though I have never shouted abuse at them either. I have however busked in my teens, even getting into bars and restaurants to do a set and by default found people wanted to pay me when I sat in parks drawing and would do portraits - I couldn't part with the drawings as I needed them for my A'Level portfolio. But I personally liked the sensation and drew satisfaction for doing something that others enjoyed that they couldn't do themselves - perhaps this explains my love for performance and theatre, another activity I long ago quit in favour of efforts to get and keep 'that job' that people yelling from cars would talk about.

I wonder if this too explains the inclination of educators to 'do it for free', at least from the security of tenure with a college, school or university?

My father in law is an 85 year old academic who has 'given it away' all his life, going way, way beyond allotted 'hours' as a tutor ... the consequence is that he does have hundreds turn out to 'gigs' and 'fund raisers' for his net project. So, interestingly, I think there is a lesson here that has a good deal to do with openness in education.

This isn't the same as collaboration though.

An audience gives their time, their presence, or food, or a sofa to sleep on - even money when it is asked for, and even inspite of not asking for it in the case of the $10 from the bloke who burned Amanda's CD that he had been given as a gift.

Openness, I wonder, from characters such as Amanda, is a psychological need for some and a requirement in society. We are still, as human beings, pre-urban, pre-monetised, where in a self-supporting community a community of people could meet all their needs - including the need to be entertained and taken out of our heads. Perhaps an anthropologist would describe Amanda Palmer as a natural 'witch doctor'. Amanda wonders if 'the internet is taking us back, about a few people loving us enough' - to a sense of shared society and community.

I like the comparison between sleeping on someone's couch and crowd surfing (though it wasn't her on the couch in this story). THAT is more usual, and I've done this too, hitching through France in my teens (again), on more than one occasion we were taken home, given a meal and either allowed to put our tent up in a garden or given the couch to sleep on.

So how does this explain or justify 'crowd sourcing'?

It comes down to trust. Which also means having a thick skin or ignoring some of the vitriol written in the comments to this TED lecture - nothing like controversy to get the fingers typing.

'The perfect tools won't help us (I'm paraphrasing) if we can't face each other and give and receive fearlessly and ask without shame'. Amanda Palmer, TED Talk 12:11

But will this mean that like Cacofinix some musicians will play even when they don't have a commercial future?

The number of buskers who deserve my £1 are rare ... sometimes I give them £1 because I admire their nerve. Sometimes they too should keep quiet - they might get more as a living statue. I'll have to go and listen to Amanda Palmer's music now. This isn't sustainable for the film industry ... how can a movie costing $200m make its money back on handouts? Or is crowdsourcing and handouts an alternative means of funding?

I'll know when I've tried it.

If educators are funded by the state, from taxation, are they living on hand outs? Is the BBC a product of this culture of hand outs too? If during a MOOC participants are asked to pay what they can afford will this permit those who can't pay to continue thanks to the largesse of those who can and want to?

I'm off to make a donation to a friend who has spent his life writing - and to a lesser or greater degree getting published. How else can we enjoy commentators?

Couchsurfing IS my father in law staying with his former pupils whenever he travels to north America or continental Europe - they want to put him up, and on a lecturer's pension he couldn't travel otherwise. He didn't need the Internet to develop this crowd either - though it makes it easier to be in touch these days.

In education the Amanda Palmer as lecturer would put on a free gig and then take the hat around - those who could pay might pay over the odds, those who couldn't pay would have the benefit of her talk, while those who could pay but don't make up that fraction of society who habitually take and give nothing back anyway.

To what degree have religions relied on the largesse of followers? A hat being passed around at a gig? The hat going round after a performance by a juggler in Covent Garden ... or the collection box going round after a church service?

Thought provoking in its controversy.

I've not seen so many NEGATIVE comments coming out of a TED lecture before either.

Some Music (think 'Hazel O'Connor, Breaking Glass 1980):

In My Mind

The Oasis Music Video 

The Killing Type

Dear Daily Mail

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