Who is the teacher in connectivist and network learning? #cck11

In a ‘mesh‘ network  (Like the image ,without central node) every person (node)  has ‘teacher-function’ . Teacher functions are aspects of the role of teacher. A teacher explains, guides, coaches, has social leadership functions, relates to students, enthusiasms, supports, etc. In a high quality  mesh network every node will/must show some of these teacher functions.

Even in a classroom some pupils do show some teacher functions, like asking questions, being enthusiastic, helping other pupils.  In some schools team teaching and specialized teacher roles make use of these teacher functions.

In a learning network these teacher functions should be more or less evenly distributed. Distribution of functions in a network makes the network more sustainable and stable.
In a learning network all roles should be present. A learning network where  the only present function  is ‘fostering enthusiasm’  will die soon. A network with a too high presence of criticism will not last long either.

A Massive Open Online Course  MOOC is a network with a lot of nodes, and chances are low some teacher functions are not present in a MOOC.

Collaboration (with teacher functions) is not just a “way”, it’s a requirement, a profile, a skill and virtue that needs to be taken into account and empowered by all educators.
So, what is your point of view here? Do you think our education system esp. network teaching, needs to starts by turning our students and teachers personalities to collaborative human beings?


5 thoughts on “Who is the teacher in connectivist and network learning? #cck11

  1. Hello there,

    I found this post through the MOOC on connectivism, and appreciate the visual map you provided. That kind of image is precisely the kind of diagram that I am looking for to explain some of the dynamics of an educational system that’s based on collaboration.

    Elinor Ostrom, the winner of the 2009 Nobel in economics, did research on common-pool resources, or what’s usually called “the commons,” and came to the conclusion that unlike Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” where people just take and take from a common-pool resource leading to depletion, there are actually ways to make it work out well so that everyone can partake.

    In a similar way, I think this kind of thinking about the way we form community and engage can be applied to collaborative learning – but I think in a way it’s like the chicken and the egg. Do you set the rules of the game up so that winning requires working together or do you encourage people to learn to collaborate?

    I don’t think we need to turn people into collaborative human beings. I think a much more effective method of learning would be for them to learn on their own which situations are more appropriate to collaborate and which might require a more competitive edge.

    However, I do think that in an educational setting that cooperation has clear benefits and matches, in a sense, the spirit of the endeavor.

  2. The mesh network resembles a bit of what happens on a building construction site. There may be a site superintendant to represent the general contractor but the primary organizing “authority” are often the silent agreements between trades to share the work area, behave safely and where possible help each other. To me, these arrangements are evidence of the human ability to self-organize, build temporary communities and cooperate. Also applies to apprenticeship training which falls into the job-site environment–taking a village raising a child.

    This behaviour seems natural and part of the difficulty with connectivism might be from forcing a theory that seems almost mechanical onto a system that seems biological. Of course, explaining things is a tough job–no description can please everyone, (even Ken:-)


  3. Hi Jaap,
    I like your thoughts about “distributed teachers.” We have all been learning from each other in this MOOC as much as from the readings and facilitators, for instance. 🙂 And I think that even in more traditional settings that we still live and work in, there’s a possibility of collaboration. To me, that kind of attitude is what makes gaps and fissures in The System of Education, which often gets talked about as though it is a complete monolith.

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