There is a great discussion happening over at the Passion vs. Reason forum.

I think it is helpful to acknowledge that, as defined, groups and networks provide two opposing and contrasting definitions of a learning “formation”. There could be “pure” groups and “pure” networks, but actual formations would lie somewhere in between these kinds of formations, sort of like a region in the continuum between these types.

Dr. Terry Anderson, for example, talked about three intersecting kinds (he included collectives) and George has talked about the continuum of strength between individuals and groups/collectives. The contrasts are completely necessary to acknowledge that these distinctions exist. And there may be more such types that we can identify (possibly :)).

Secondly, it is very important to be able to base one of the distinctions between “traditional” and “connected” in groups vs. networks,  in the context of the dominant educational systems today, otherwise you do not have a base reference to what you are trying to revolutionize (and revolution is what is required, IMHO). In that vein, calling this an experience vs. a course and similar examples, only reinforce the point that we must contrast in order to expose. We must expose in order to change.

Roberta, I think yours is a difficult comment to absorb:

1.  we are a group because we are discussing and learning the same thing…about connectivism. 

2. we are a group because there is order to the readings and weekly topics, including topics of discussion. 

3. we are a group because there are borders and memberships.  You have to be a member to post here on the forums, you have to be a member to post a blog etc.

4. we are a group because the knowledge gained here is increasing by additions, or working to prove the same point.

Why this is difficult is that I cannot remember a learning experience or a formation that has been so open, diverse, autonomous, participative, complex and emergent. And I don’t think that atleast for George and Stephen, that is unintentional. I think it would take me a lot, and I am still struggling with design methodologies for engendering connective learning, to even think of evolving this course in the way they have.

But learning formations can be guided (if not directed by a concrete end goal) using certain design methodologies. If they cannot be, then they cannot address the logistical challenges of learning. That is the focus of the next week’s discussions – how can educators adapt to this new understanding.

I am simply not learning about Connectivism. I am learning much more (even bought my first book on Philosophy in an inspired moment :) ) and that learning IS happening as a result of the design for this experience that George and Stephen have facilitated.

Order and memberships (just because we have a simple “create a profile, it will help organize and identify”, does it amount to borders?) are part of the design, but when have they been restrictive in this entire experience? I think we are also discussing a huge number of things that would never even physically (within the constraints of time and focus) be part of a traditional curriculum.

And knowledge has been nothing that is linearly additive in nature simply because I am connecting with so many diverse perspectives that it is hard to even collate on a mind map :) (in fact, for once that tool is proving to be useless to me at this point for me).

As Stephen writes:

Either way, for both of us, learning and knowing are not simply the ‘having’ of entities. A society might have a library or a database – it might ‘have’ knowledge, therefore – but neither of use would say that the society ‘knows’ or ‘has learned’ unless the members of that society are relevantly connected to that database.

Second, The ‘doing’, according to connectivism, is to conduct activities that would lead to being organized in a certain way. George would characterize this as ‘network formation’, while I (thinking more of personal learning than of social learning) would characterize it as ‘practice and reflection’.

and:

“to know is to be organized in a certain way, and to learn is to become organized in that way.”

and:

First, we need to be clear that collections of people have some group properties and some network properties. No collection of people is ever a ‘pure’ group or network. So, insofar as a collection of people learns, it is by virtue of its network properties.

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