Making Connections: Snapshots of Research and Practice

Self and Community

Connectivism Sites

Snapshots for Communities of Practice and Connectivism

1. Experiencehands_on.jpg:

Personal experience is central to learning. Learning must be situated in social experiences and contexts.
“The ability to make connections between what is learned to real life; across fields; linking ideas and concepts; are key skills for connectivism.” (Siemens, 2004)

“When we associate a specific practice (eg., teaching) with a community, there are three particular dimensions that hold the community together, namely a sense of mutual engagement…; a joint enterprise negotiated by participants based on the conditions, demands and resources that shape practice; and a shared repertoire or the resources used to negotiate meaning." (Sessums, 2007, ¶ 7).

2. Reflection:

world.jpg Teachers must be reflective learners. Topics must be relevant, engaging, and focused on the process of learning.
“Decisions are an important part of the learning process as the learner must seek out what to learn and decipher meanings and sources of information” (Siemens, 2004).

Teachers must see themselves as learners and structure intentional opportunities to inquire into their own practice to lead to professional development by posing questions, collecting data, taking action, sharing the findings, and restarting the process again (Sessums, 2007).

3. Networks:

groupwork.jpgDeveloping communities and building networks is essential to bridge learning and provide support.
"The learning process is focused on the ability to connect specialized nodes or information sources and negotiate information needed for each particular learning experience" (Siemens, 2004).

Berthelemy (2007) defines networks with the following characteristics: they are comprised of links and nodes (such as people linked by handshakes, webpages linked by hyperlinks) that are dynamic with common hubs of centralized knowledge that build by making connections one at a time. It is through generating these networks and creating links that learning occurs (Siemens, 2004)

4. Knowledge Paradigms:

lego.jpgKnowledge paradigms can no longer support transmission of knowledge paradigms but must switch to
navigation of knowledge.
"Connectivist activities seek to keep knowledge current and up-to-date. The capacity to know must be more valued than memorization and recitation." (Siemens, 2004)

Power shifts from top-down hierarchal transmission of knowledge to “distributed learning communities” (Stevens, 2006). Knowledge is shared from peer to peer as these communities interact, annotate and contribute to each other’s knowledge base. (Stevens, 2006).

5. Leadership as Facilitator:

integrate.jpgRedesign PD to stress the role of specialist/leader as facilitator for successful communities of practice.
“Nurturing and maintaining connections is necessary to facilitate continual learning.” (Siemens, 2004)

Networked technology allows access to various online environments anytime and anywhere for a variety of purposes with educators and noneducators alike that allows for development of relationships inside and outside the field of education (Lock, 2006).
We must avoid a common trap when designing “new” paradigms for professional development that these structures don’t become online mirrors of what we currently do (Lock, 2006).

Circle of the Wise: Online Community of Practice Links for Teachers