Learner No agents but content creators? #cck11

Learning agent

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In LeahGrrl’s site for CCK11

We discussed the learner as an agent .  On this subject Downes and Siemens seem to have different opinions.   “… In connectivism, a phrase like ‘constructing meaning’ makes no sense. Connections form naturally, through a process of association, and are not ‘constructed’ through some sort of intentional action.” says Stephen Downes. Tony continues, “Connectivism should still address the hard struggle within of deep thinking, of creating understanding. This is more than the process of making connections.”  No, it is not more than the process of making connections. That’s why learning is at once so simple it seems it should be easily explained and so complex that it seems to defy explanation (cf. Hume on this). How can learning – something so basic that infants and animals can do it – defy explanation? As soon as you make learning an intentional process (that is, a process that involves the deliberate creation of a representation) you have made these simple cases difficult, if not impossible, to understand… .”

Siemens: ” …  When we stop seeing knowledge as an entity that i s possessed within a person and start to cast i t as a function of elements distributed across a system, we notice a dramatic i mpact on the education process: the educator becomes a supporter (not the center), the content i s not as critical as the connections, learners find value i n their aggregated perspectives, learners become content creators, and learning i s continuous, exploratory, and sustained (not controlled or filtered by only one agent).


3 thoughts on “Learner No agents but content creators? #cck11

  1. I think S. Downes is calling his position ‘strong’ Connectivism, and G. Siemens position ‘weak’ connectivism now. If a person believes in human agency, then I would think they would lean towards ‘weak’ connectivism. If a person doesn’t believe in human agency, then they would lean towards ‘strong’ connectivism.

    I find it very hard to dismiss human agency. Is the erection of something like the pyramids just the activity of a bee-hive, or did some human(s) decide to build it? I think to suggest, as S. Downes does, that the problem with understanding learning is caused by considering human intention or agency, is ‘barking up the wrong tree (node)”.

  2. If we were to attempt to understand personal knowledge we would do well to examine two issues that are currently observed but unexplained. One of these issues is how knowing of a particular type of knowledge occurs in “idiot savants,” individuals with am I.Q. so low as to be deemed unable to learn, (“individuals with an I.Q. of about 25 who were unable to read and write”) and yet these individuals are able to demonstrate a particular type of information (“can give volumes of information in one of several subject areas, and /or can accomplish incredible mental…feats in one particular area”). This is writen about in some detail in the book, “Evolution’s End” by Joseph Chilton Pearce. (Field of Intelligence and the Savant Syndrome)
    Similarly, the research of Christakis and Fowler states as a rule, “The Network has a life of its own. Social networks can have properties and functions that are neither controlled nor even perceived by the people within them.” These properties can be understood only by studying the whole group and its structure not by studying isolated individuals. i.e. stampedes and traffic jams. “The Smart Swarm” by Peter Brown makes similar observations about the nature of super organizisms, schools of fish, flocks of birds, a colony of ants. The question is where does the intelligence, in the savant, as well as in these networks come from if it was not learned.? And in the case of the social network, where does it reside, where is the social brain.
    John Miler and Scott Page observe in their book, “Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life”, Though ostensibly simple, the social dynamics responsible for a standing ovation are complex.” but John Miller adds, ” …you could get an audience that loved the performance …and they’re to shy to stand up.”. Unlike honeybees, we humans need more than our instincts to help us work toward a common goal.
    A soon to be published paper by Dr. Paul Stephen Prueitt, “The Social Brain: Stratification Theory as Applied to Neural Architecture enabling a Brain-like function for Social Networks” he states the following, “The concept of a social brain was suggested in the classical book by Minsky. Minsky‘s “Society of Mind” is part of the classical and neural network research literature. In “Society of Mind”, Minsky proposed that community intelligence is a natural outcome of an increase in connective-ness related to modern social realities.” As with the human brain, the socail brain mayl soon gain in increasing awareness of itself.

  3. […] The network is the agent. When the network is unstable, because a problem or a need is emerging in the network. Than the network will be gathering information, sharing information, make connections to new nodes, until reaching a stable state in the network. This unstable state of the network is tension, curiosity, feeling and emotion. If I see a problem, my network will gather information, make me feel unstable, make me search for information. After some time the information input and sharing and connecting is over. The answer is there. I feel stable. Swedinbalchik: “… since in an early stage the coherence isn’t there (we have fragmented information elements). Learning is achieved when we pull together and connect the various information elements in such a way that it reflects our life experiences, circumstances or type of work currently involved in. …” The we is not a little (wo)man in our heads, it is the network. Compare Learner No agents but content creators? […]

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