(Archive) Connectivism Course in Second Life

(archived post, 8-25-2008)

I signed up for the Second Life Cohort of people attending a course about Connectivism. The social tools used as well as the content of the course seem very interesting.

The content: allow me to quote the course wiki:

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. George Siemens and Stephen Downes – the two leading figures on connectivism and connective knowledge – will co-facilitate this innovative and timely course.

Okay, I guess this is still rather vague… I found this text by George Siemens, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, which provides more answers. For instance:

Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.

Principles of connectivism:

* Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
* Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
* Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
* Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
* Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
* Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
* Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
* Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

Connectivism also addresses the challenges that many corporations face in knowledge management activities. Knowledge that resides in a database needs to be connected with the right people in the right context in order to be classified as learning. Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism do not attempt to address the challenges of organizational knowledge and transference.

Very nice, maybe, but others might say pretty obvious statements. However, attending the course could very well make things more interesting, not only because of better and more explanations by the experts, but because of the learning experience itself.

Social tools: The learning experience will be mediated by all kinds of social media tools. On the blog for this course I read that by the end of July 1,200 persons signed up for the course, which means that the course can be rightly called a MOOC or Massive Online Course, which makes it even more necessary to make clever use of social media technology.

Each week the course will include a series of readings, recorded presentations and podcasts. During the week, a “live session” will be held in elluminate. These sessions will include a combination of presentation and discussion. Asynchronous discussion will be held in Moodle. All events will be open to the public.

How Second Life is involved? Fleep Tuque, co-founder of the Chilbo community in Second Life, proposed to take advantage of the sense of “co-presence” one feels when meeting people in Second Life to hold weekly discussions about the Connectivism course and construct the Connectivism Village where members of the cohort can “live, learn, and play” in Second Life. What else we do is up to the group, but we may:

– Hold group or individual conversations in voice chat.

– Submit builds, objects, models or other projects as assignments for the Connectivism course.

– Invite other members of the Connectivism course to come visit our location in Second Life.

The Chilbo community is hosting the land and space in Second Life where the SL Cohort of the Connectivism course will be held. When the Chilbo Summer Fair wraps up at the end of August, the fairgrounds will be torn down to make way for the construction of the Connectivism Village.

In the SL Cohort there are more than 100 people now from all over the world. That is yet another fascinating aspect of the MOOC: people from all over the planet will gather in this experience.

Will it succeed? I sure do hope so, and will report about the Connectivism course here on MixedRealities.

Roland Legrand

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