George Siemens got that right! This course eci831 is forcing me to learn in new ways. A couple of days ago I wrote in my journal “ I have always been a very good learner–traditional learning with books and text that I can interact with and write all over work well for me. Give me books and papers and leave me alone to make sense of it , please. This digital learning is overwhelming me” (insert tears here, yes I cried with frustration). Tonight however digital learning is starting to make sense to me. It is a different kind of learning that requires new skills. In Tuesday’s class, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach talked about the shifts that are required to become a connected teacher, that goes for learner too, I think. Shift from learning at school to learning anytime, anywhere; learning as a passive participant to learning in a participatory culture; learning as individuals to learning in a networked community; linear knowledge shifting to distributed knowledge. Siemens’ also referred to shifts–shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. My little earthquake of learning is causing a huge tectonic shift in my mind and causing me to rethink my mental model of what learning is.
Is the frustration worth the tears? YES. I am totally excited about the potential benefits of connected learning and teaching, both for my own practice and for the college in which I teach.
So what are the implications for my practice as a learner/teacher in Nunavut? After reading Siemens’ article, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and reflecting on the blogs of my classmates and all the knowledge that I have been connected to in eci831 I am beginning to put together my own “theory of learning”. Starting from the understanding that learning principles and processes are reflective of social environments, I have developed this rather simplistic model of the evolution of learning. (forgive me LisaMLane for crunching history).
Traditional Oral Societies
Knowledge Body of knowledge unchanged for centuries
Learning By observation, doing and through oral transmission: elders’ stories
Locus Self connected to community
Knowledge Expanding body of knowledge
Experts “learned men”-growth of schools and universities as gatekeepers
Learning By reading, writing and research
Knowledge Growing exponentially-body of knowledge doubling every 18 months
Experts Everyone holds some expert knowledge
Learning A process of connecting specialized nodes of information
Locus Individual as a node connected to personal network
In Nunavut where we still have living Elders who hold a tremendous amount of traditional knowledge or as it is called here, Inuit Qaujimajuqtuqangit, the model is not linear but connected and circular, like this:
These ways of learning are not mutually exclusive but enrich each other. At Arctic College we are concentrating on creating learning environments where the knowledge of Inuit is infused into the learning traditions of the Industrial Age. I am beginning to think that we also need to pay attention to creating learning environments that also support the development of the learning skills that are needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.