#plenk2010: Complicated like an aeroplane? Or complex like the weather?

Getting a head start on CCK11 Week 1: Connectivism with some thoughts about Richard Schwier’s video interview with George Siemens:

I *think* what George was saying was that connectivism is a perspective of knowledge as existing in connections, with learning as the navigation of the connections that open doors to new knowledge. I like the emphasis he gave on these conceptual connections (which we often imagine as being detached from the physical world) having a biological – neurological – basis. Those who’ve seen the now infamous menstrual cycle role-play activity know that in a previous life I was a biology teacher. When I think about ‘learning’ I still think of muscle fibre recruitment, neural pathways, dendrons, myelin, receptor cells, noradrenaline and acetylcholine. Examples of negative feedback = extreme heat, nausea and falling over. Positive feedback = a welcome burst of dopamine. So I don’t have a problem with the biological nature of learning. But without a basic knowledge of how the nervous system functions I think I would find this part of the conversation a bit opaque… How did everyone else get on? I’m curious.

George pointed out that connectivism has the potential for a broader research base than earlier learning theories, given the wide range of academic disciplines that it encompasses. So, to develop our understanding of connectivism, it follows that we are all going to have to become more connected (that figures). Imagine we have five people – a neuroscientist, a social scientist, a learning technologist, an AI professor and a networked learner. It is easy to see how they could work together to improve each other’s individual understanding of connectivism. But I think here we’re we talking about reaching a point where the group’s collective knowledge takes on a more tangible state, with the Internet being an example of how knowledge connections can be represented outside the human brain on a massive scale.

The mention of Kevin Kelly’s TED talk made me think I should go watch it. It sounds like it draws (a lot) on the convenient metaphor of the internet as a (shared) human brain -  which would probably get annoying, so I might not bother. Did anyone else see it?

I *would* like to check out Tom Brown’s work on Navigationism though -  – provided I can get hold of it – and revisit Jo Novak’s stuff on concept maps.

Before I forget… this all reminds me very much of some stuff I read about Vannevar Bush and a memex device he conceptualised back in the 1940s. That man was *way* ahead of his time…


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