Sunday, December 6, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2009 Paper 2

Schalk Merwe Louw
Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2009 Short Paper 2

In this paper I am going to attempt to shed some light on the changing roles of educators at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I am currently employed at the UFS as an Instructional Designer in the Division E-Learning. My job is to facilitate higher learning in an online environment and in order to do this properly I need to work closely with the lecturers and Teaching and Learning Managers. Therefore I have some insight to the challenges that teachers face.
The traditional method of face-to-face teaching is still used as the default means of teaching, but blended learning is being used more frequently as of late. We are at present in the stage where the early adopters appreciate the value of online learning, understand their role in facilitating online learning and have taken up the charge and are using blended- and online learning. The problem that arises with the early majority of adopters is that they feel that they are becoming obsolete as teachers. When confronted with this question we at the Division try and explain to them that in the connectivist framework, their roles as teachers are even more important than in the face-to-face sessions. In face- to-face sessions, content and information is transmitted from the lecturer to the student. Students are seen as empty vessels that need to be filled by the knowledge from the lecturer. When lecturers hear that learners must form their own connections and networks and learn from that, they feel that they have become obsolete, when in fact their job is even more important than before. In my view the educators main function in a connectivism framework is to steer the students in the right direction, with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies there is such a vast amount of information out there, it is easy to be overwhelmed by it all (especially if the student is new to the information being presented). The educator must therefore guide the student in the right direction and allow then to forge their own knowledge by connecting with different people and networks by means of the different tools available to them. By doing this, educators are empowering deep learning in their students, replacing the old sterile transfer of facts with connections and networks that will last them a lifetime and facilitate lifelong learning.

On a practical level, I found the work of Brennan (2005 p. 5) is very closely related with what we would like lecturers to understand about teaching in a connectivist way. It was found that the most effective practices engaged learners in constructivist approaches which develop cognitive skills through high levels of interactivity between all participants to encourage synthesis and analysis for ‘deep learning’ involving consistent levels of feedback by teachers who are imaginative, flexible, technologically gymnastic, committed, responsible and expert communicators. If our lectures can take this message to heart and implement it, I think we have done our job. Shifting mindsets from what is to what could be.


Brennan, R. 2003, One size doesn’t fit all – Pedagogy in the online environment – Volume 1

Friday, October 23, 2009

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Paper 1

Connectivism is the learning theory that lies closest to my heart out of all the learning theories. While completing my Bachelors Degree, I had three years of Psychology as a main subject, so coming into this course I had been exposed to the theory of connectivism before. It must be said however that the connectivism theory had only been touched on briefly as part of the learning theories in one module in my second year of Psychology. This means that I have an idea what connectivism was about, but no substantial knowledge.

The reason that connectivism has been resonating with me from that first encounter with the theory is because it is the one that made the most sense to me. Behaviourism and constructivism are both valid theories, but conditions of learning has changed so radically with the technology explosion, that it would not be sensible to modify these existing theories (Siemens 2004 in Ireland 2007). The easiest explanation of connectivism was offered by Stephen Downes (2007) who stated that: “...connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.” The way I understand it is that learning takes place through the connections that we make with other people. If I want to know how to build a homemade rocket, I will seek out those people who have the knowledge to build one and form a connection with them in order to learn from them. From this point of view, knowledge lies in the connections we form with others; if those connections were not there we would not have the knowledge. To me this is the basic starting point in connectivism, making a connection with another person to gain their knowledge and in turn provide them with what you know. From here on out the really interesting things start to happen. We now have a connection with a person who knows how to build a homemade rocket, but this person does not live in exile. He/she knows other people who might share the same passion for rockets. You do not know these people, but by extension of the network that you share you have access to their knowledge. This is my understanding of the diffusion of knowledge by means of a network and the basic principle of connectivism (Downes 2005).

With any “new” theory there will be criticism. Verhagen (2006) places connectivism at the level of curriculum, focussing on what people should learn and the skills they should develop. He goes further to say that if connectivism were truly at the theoretical level it would explore the process of how people learn. To me this criticism makes sense, but it is not overly important. The way in which people learn is secondary to making the connection. People would not even be able to learn if the connection was not there to begin with.
I truly believe that connectivism is the most applicable learning theory in our day and age. The all encompassing globalisation effect the Internet has walks hand in hand with the theory of connectivism. New acquaintances, and by implication new networks, are at our fingertips, no matter where in the world we, or the networks, are situated. The more I think about it, I find that I have always in one way or another learnt through connectivism, and in essence this theory has always been around, and I think will be of great value to educators and students in the digital age.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deliciuos Account

Hi everyone.

Im a bit late on this, but here is my Delicious account:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Schalk 101 Podcast

The making of this podcast was easy and difficult at the same time. The easy part was using audacity as I have used similar and at times musch more complex software before. (Ableton Live, used for music production) The difficult part was the content. I had no idea what to talk about so in the end I rambled on for 7 minutes about my life and interests, so that you guys can get to know me a little better.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Comparing 3 Personal Learning Environments. IET F 09

Martin Weller - My personal work/leisure/learning environment

This was the first one that really caught my attention. I like Martin's PLE because it gives attention to his leisure/private time as well. Learning in my opinion does not happen from 9-5 and then stops. there has been many instances where I have learned something by playing around or while being on leisure time.

D'Arcy Norman "My PLE according to Goolge and Touchgraph


I like the second simplified diagram from D'Arcy because this is learning through connectivism in its simplest of form. Here he uses online tools to connect to people who holds the knowledge that he seeks. Plain and simple.

Julie Collareda

Julies' PLE is the last one that I picked for this exercise. This one lies close to home as she has included the availability of internet access to her PLE. This is applicable in my case as well. I am only now getting round to writing this up as I did bot have any internet access the last week. This is a concept that might seem strange to people in first world countries, but in places like South Africa it's a real issue

Let me know what you think and have a good one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How safe are we online? IET F 09

This topic is one that I have thought about a lot in previous years. It has sparked interesting debates between various people and myself and I have come to the conclusion that it is all a matter of perception, more specifically what your perception of your level of online security is.

In my opinion the most important thing to remember is that nothing (as far as my knowledge goes ) is "unhackable". If someone wants to get into your facebook account badly enough for whatever reason they will. My facebook account has been hacked and the same goes for my G-mail account, it is not unheard of. The point that I have to emphasize though is that these accounts where hacked not to gain my personal information, but in order to do what I like to call "Link dumping" (Posting links to all of my contacts and then erasing them from my contact list, very very annoying). I was fortunate in this instance that the perpetrator did not use my personal information for something malicious but it might well have happened that way.

This bring me back to the point of perception of your online security. After the "attacks " on my accounts I became aware that I am not at ease with the information floating around the net about my private life. Sites like facebook and myspace reveal so much personal information that can be used for the wrong purposes if desired. I think that we as people living in the technology explosion era need to learn a new skill. The skill of knowing what information about ourselves we need to keep of the net, what instances we need to do this and where it is appropriate to expose this information. It will be a difficult process (As I have found out) but it needs to happen if we are ever to feel safe on the net.

Have a good one

Sunday, September 20, 2009

First week of CCK09

So here we are at the end of the first week of the Connectivism and connective knowledge course. As another student remarked, I feel like I am at the tip of the ice berg, scratching the surface of a wealth of information laying beneath. I must say that this notion is very exciting to me.

Having studied developmental psychology in previous years, I was no stranger to the connectivism theory. We had discussed (not in much detail) this theory as part of the learning theories chapter in the course and to be honest it was the one that made the most sense to me then, and after this week it is making even more sense. If I reflect back on my life and the key skills that I feel I have acquired, it is becoming ever more clear that I have been learning what I know through connections with other people. I "see" connetivism all the time. From toddlers playing in the sand, the one learning how to build a sand castle by helping and interacting with the other one, to students sitting in a computer lab, the one learning how to navigate to a certain page on a University web site by asking directions from the other.

I wouldn't say that all the learning that has taken place in my life has been exclusively through connectivism, but I think that living in the time of massive information explosion and technology it is the most prominent and valid learning theory and I am very excited to be on the verge of diving headlong in to the underlying principles and factors regarding connectivism.

Have a lovely Sunday and good luck with the upcoming week.


Monday, September 14, 2009

The first 5,000 days of the web, and the next 5,000: Kevin Kelly

Verry interesrting talk. Relates a lot to connectivism like Richard Schwier said in the interview with George.

A blog is born....

A blog is born every second, right? Well heres mine.

Hello world