Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nearing the end of CCK11 - Answers to some questions

We are nearing the end of CCK11, (and we're starting mobiMOOC at the same time!) and I came across this post by Jaap, asking a few question on how connectivism fits in with with established teaching methods. I've got a few thoughts on the issue...

What does a teacher see of connectivism? What will change in education as a result of connectivism? What does a connectivist lesson look like?

Connectivist principles, I think, do exist in schools, it just depends on what type of schools you look at. I think Jean Anyon's commentary, albeit 30 years old at this point, show that there isn't just one type of pedagogy in our schools.  What does a connectivist lesson look like?  I'd say probably something like what is done in Montessori schools. Would this work in public schools? Of course! If we want to throw resources at our schools to pursue this type of teaching and learning.

What are the implications of connectivism for the school? If New Brunswick wants to change education, and introduces connectivism, how will education of New Brunswick going to be?

I am not sure how things are up in Canada, I'd assume that they are sort of similar to the US. I've been exposed to Greek schools and US schools. The US seems a bit more market driven, meaning that schools get money to buy books and supplies and teachers. If some publisher outbids another publisher the schools may end up getting one book over another. Books also tend to stay in schools longer. Conversely, looking at Greece, the government has a book publisher (OAED) that prints books each year for each grade! Books get updated and all schools in the nation are working from the same foundation. Which model is better? You be the judge, I happen to prefer to see each first grader have the same textbook whether you're in Massachusetts, Alabama or Oregon. Textbooks are not value free and pedagogy free. Textbooks have a built-in set of assumptions that guide their development, so if a textbook is available that embraces connectivist activities, it makes teacher's jobs easier, as opposed to having to fit a square peg into a round hole.


Can a teacher (in a non-connectivist school) teach in a connectivist way?
Connectivistisch teaching is it only for higher education?

Montessori schools have shown that you can teach in different modes of teaching, even outside of higher ed. Teachers do teaching in innovative new ways but when local, state and national governments have mandates that mandate some sort of standardized test to pass your class or graduate, it really hamstrings how creative teachers can be, because if that test isn't passed, it hurts the students, the teachers and the school. Of course if students pass, that doesn't guarantee learning, but at least teachers and schools are safe, and students (whether they have learned or not) are passed on to the next level, and they are someone else's problem - this is not right, but it is a by-product of a standardized-testing culture. Small pockets of connectivist teaching can exist in this culture, but wholesale change is not possible until we don't depend on standardized testing for an assessment of learning.

The main question is: What is the difference between connectivist education and other forms of education?

Good question! I still honestly don't buy fully into connectivism. I think the answer is "it depends." Different types of learning, and different types of activities, require different methodologies. For example, behaviorism works for some things, but not for everything. The same thing I think is true for connectivism. It works in some areas, but just like a car, a teacher needs to change gears for different terrains and speeds :-)
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