Inspired by Thomas Baker’s blog, in which he begins to explore some practical implications of the connectivist perspective, here are some initial thoughts about how I feel Connectivism might have an impact on my own teaching practice.
I work with Art & Design teachers at postgraduate level; mostly those who are working towards their PG Cert in Learning & Teaching. The mix of artistic disciplines is mind-blowing; we have film-makers, performance artists, letterpress technicians, painters and sculptors, photographers and fashion designers… and the rest. Some are relatively new to teaching but most have been teaching for many years; the majority for far longer than I have, which means I often feel uncomfortable referring to myself as their ‘tutor’.
So what do I want for my tutees? I’d like them to experience, and enjoy, learning like this. I’d like them to see that learning, or education, should be complex rather than complicated. I’d like them to take a look through the lens of actor network theory, and to benefit from recognising that they can draw upon each others’ knowledge, experience and skills almost as readily as they can their own. I would also like them to want their own students to learn in this way too.
How do I start them off on this journey? George raised some practical starting points in his video with Richard Schwier. 1) Encouraging the use of concept maps; 2) Bringing in practitioners from outside the boundaries of the course and the institution and connecting with them in a productive way; 3) Using resources that have been created by others and highlighting this in order to raise awareness of the potential connections beyond the institution, beyond London and the UK.
I already do a lot of (3), and I’ve had feedback from many participants to the effect that this kind of activity has significantly broadened their perspective and their awareness of the wealth of resources that are out there for the taking. My attempts to connect participants with external events and practitioners would benefit from being incorporated into the course as core activities. At the moment they are presented – and unsurprisingly perceived – as extra-curricular. I think my reluctance in using concept maps as a learning activity in the past is related to me being completely rubbish at drawing concept maps. But my tutees are much more artistically minded than I am, so I think I might give it a go with them this week. We’re doing a session on action research and it might be fun to get them drawing a big concept map focusing on one aspects of their project – the literature review for example – and all the different sources, inputs, ideas or activities involved.
I think that was a rather productive post!