Sunday, June 16, 2013

Connectivism, Online Learning and MOOCs: Stephen Downes

Learning and Teaching Online: Moodle MOOC on WizIQ

As a part of Week 3 activities, Stephen Downes was kind enough to share his thoughts on connectivism, online learning and moocs for the Moodle MOOC on WizIQ on15 June 2013.
The session began with Dr Nellie elaborating on the Power of Learning Together.

Taking the session further Stephen explained three kinds of knowledge:
(a) Qualitative (represented by properties, qualities and relations...)
(b) Quantitative (represented by number, mass and proportion etc)
(c) Connective (represented by patterns, networks, causes, impacts etc)

On what 'knowing' is, he contended about old (universals) and new (patterns) whereby rules and categories are now seen as similarities or in coherences. What we believed that the knowledge is in the network is now being treated is as the knowledge is the network!

He further cited the distributed representation of the concepts / problems / issues on Hopfield-like neural networks, learning being central in connectionism. There is definite pattern of connectivity between a target, a cause and the clue, which are processed through sigma pi layer in distributed representation. It was compared with an organisation where we can group knowledge into two:

Personal Knowledge (organisation of neurons)
Public Knowledge (organisation of artifacts)

Graph theory, Connectionism or Social Network Theory etc support a common underlying logic. Stephen argued that if a human mind can come to 'know', and if a human mind is, essentially, a network, then any network can come to 'know', and for that matter, so can a society!

"Downes Theory" of Pedagogy was also elaborated where a Choice within the dimensions of a {Model, Practice, Reflect and Demostrate} acquire an Identity and finally leading to Creativity. Role of democracy vis-a-vis education was also discussed. Stephen said education is not about remembering a body of predefined content. It is about the citizens communicating what they know with each other. It was further debated that the owners of education are the citizens of a society not the governments and corporations. Significance of Open Educational Resources (OERs)was highlighted and while citing Papert and Freire on the Future of School, it was concurred that OERs are necessary for this democratic vision of education. Stephen put across that not only the OERs enable people to pursue their own personal interests in their own way, they become the medium of communication. He called upon for treating OERs not as resources created by publishers at great cost, but as created by learners to interact with each other!

Overall, it was a wonderful, lively, interactive and informative session. We look forward to hear more from you, Stephen!

Thank you.

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