Posted by: lindapemik | October 8, 2010

Learning is messy and complex…

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

Experts                                   Elders

Learning                                By observation, doing and through oral transmission:  elders’ stories

Locus                                     Self connected to community

Industrial Age

Knowledge                            Expanding body of knowledge

Experts                                   “learned men”-growth of schools and universities as gatekeepers

Learning                                By reading, writing and research

Locus                                     Institutions

21st Century

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.



  1. Very interesting (and not crunchy at all).

    Looking at the 21st century “era”, the word “individual” jumped out at me. It seemed so uniquely modern and Western. “Industrial” of course, is western too. I wonder whether traditional society might reject the whole concept of learning as connected individuals?

    • I don’t think so Lisa but it is an idea that certainly needs more thought. One of the characteristics of traditional societies is their connectedness.. the challlenge for the new era will be redefining community and who we are connected with. I don’t know if this is possible in this generation.

  2. Learning is messy, changing your learning structure is even messier. What you are describing here is seeing the end of the “Gutenberg Era,” which has worked against most of the world’s cultures while being very, very good for Northern European Protestants and North East Asians.

    I tend to think we are restoring human balance to learning after a long (500 year) detour along a bizarre straight line…

    • your video is inspiring, thanks for sharing it. I saw a statement on one of your slides that said, ” education is a colonial project”. I agree. Based on what I have observed and been told by elders, the education system(which has books and texts at its heart) has been the most significant factor contributing to the loss of language and cultural erosion in Nunavut. I am interested in learning more about using social media as tools to tell our stories.

  3. Thanks so much for the post, Linda. I love how you’ve taken the article and have made these connections, especially from your own context. I’m also very excited to hear that you are considering the idea of (virtual) learning environments at Arctic College.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about this journey in the future.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alec Couros, Ira Socol. Ira Socol said: RT @courosa: Great to see my #eci831 student put some ideas together from the course & within her context. […]


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