Rhizome or network in #change11

My network view of knowledge is simple: entities (broadly defined as well, anything: people, a chemical substance, information, etc) have attributes. When entities are connected to other entities, different attributes will be activated based on the structure of those connections and the nature of other entities that are being connected. This fluidity of attribute activation appears to be subjective, but in reality, is the contextual activation of the attributes of entities based on how they are related to other entities. Knowledge then is literally the connections that occur between entities. [http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=329]

in my drawing: E n (an) :  Entity  has attributes.
aa n: activated attributes.

1. Could we know all attributes of Entities?

2. Could we know which attributes will be activated?

3. Could we know the structure of the connections, and how this structure influences the activation of attributes?

4. If E 1 is connected to E 2 and to E 3 lots of attributes do get activated. Can we know how the activated attributes influence Entities, structure of connections, other Attributes?

Can we know all attributes?

If Entity is a person, I do not know all attributes that influence learning. (health, drug use, personal history, earlier learning, motivation). I cannot know all attributes that do influence learning, and I cannot know how all these attributes do influence learning.
If Entity is information, attributes are name, value, authority of source, source, quality, minimum and maximum values, reliability, etc.
I cannot know all attributes because every attribute of Entity information is another Entityinformation

Information seems to be an infinite set.

Can we describe the knowledge network of a person or of a group?

Some networks have boundaries. the network of cells in a human body has boundaries. But do networks of knowledge have boundaries? Or maybe a better question, can we know the boundaries of the network of knowledge of a person or a group? Could we describe and make an inventory of all the knowledge and attributes and connections in a given network?
Could we make a difference between a network of knowledge and a rhizome in this regard? “…Rhizomatic learning is about embracing uncertainty. That’s the goal. Getting to the point in oneself, or helping someone else to get to the point where they are able to confront a particular system, challenge, situation whatever not knowing the answer and feeling like they can decide about it. I try to thinking of teaching, then, as mimicking the process of being confronted with uncertain situations, that develop the literacies required to deal with uncertainty…” [Dave Cormier]

Structure of connections in a learning knowledge network

Structure of connections could be: direction, one-way, two or more directions, capacity of connection, nature of connection, selectivity of connection, conscious or unconscious connection, etc.
Could I know what will be the structure of connections in a learning network?


In a network of knowledge that is well known, mapped, described, creativity would be difficult, because creativity could be “connecting in a new way”. If creativity exists, than the network has some unknown corners.

I do not know if the differences between the metaphors of a network and a rhizome are that big.

I almost forget this: metaphors are not facts, metaphors are not theories.

Definitions sharpen the mind #mobiMOOC #cck11

“… The acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience or being taught while being free to move between different locations … ”  writes Jennifer Parker in her blog. She filtered out the devices and technology from the definition of O’Malley et al, 2003 (see Jennifers blog) .

As a connectivist (CCK11) I do not like the words “acquisition of knowledge”, I like to that to be “connecting to information”.

That definition  does not leave much of mobile learning.  I don’t care, for the time being.  I will try to avoid  this discussion on definition.  I want to know how it works first.

In Dutch is something called ‘didactiek’ it is ‘the art of teaching and methods and technics’. ‘Didactiek’ is not the same as didactic method.  In Dutch learning with a mobile phone would be considered a chapter in ‘didactiek’, just like learning with a book, with a overhead projector. a blackboard.

In ‘didactiek’ definitions are not important.

Get it #cck11 Light Bulb Experience

We have ample evidence that a proportion of students do eventually “get it”. And once they complete their course and get into practice, a substantial majority get it.  But it’s not clear how we get them to get it, if you see what I mean.  We seem to be trying to teach the unteachable (the ideas, not the students). Atherton J S (2011).  Jenny Mackness blogged about this research on light bulb experiences.

I wonder if networks do make students ‘get it’ better or sooner than teachers in a classic setting? “Sitting next to Nellie” is a way of connecting to people who know and to knowledge.

For Etienne Wenger, learning is central to human identity. A primary focus of Wenger’s more recent work is on  the individual as an active participant in the practices of social communities, and in the construction of his/her identity through these communities (Wenger et. al 2004). In this context, a community of practice is a group of individuals participating in communal activity, and experiencing/continuously creating their shared identity through engaging in and contributing to the practices of their communities.

A Community of Practice  is a tight-knit social construct, and the concept of network has challenged the concept of a tight-knit social construct. Networks are loosely organized structures in which people do not necessarily collaborate or communicate directly. However, the question is what role networks play in relation to learning. A conclusion of this debate is that there exists a form of social interaction – social networking – that learning theories have difficulty explaining. More questions arise: What kind of relations support learning, and, specifically, how do networks support learning?  … Learning takes place through problem-oriented activities, in which students are directed at solving a problem or achieving a goal.

“…Within cooperative online learning a central challenge is to enable students to follow the work of their colleagues. If students are unaware of the activities of fellow students, they might not make use of each other. This problem is reinforced within online education, where students do not meet face-to-face….”  This problem in network learning has to be solved in the network. The network exists thanks to technical possibilities like social media. The possibilities of social media have to be used by students in the network to foster transparency and awareness. This is still a problem  “… Discourse and interaction won’t happen that easily if course participants are too dispersed over different spaces. …” .The problem is not the dispersion, the problem is students did not learn to connect. A forum is not the solution, people connecting  to people is the solution.

One practical and technical solution is to make use of pingback to connect blogging  students.

In cooperative online learning  students must be encouraged to share. “If you don’t share you don’t cooperate, you don’t learn”. Learning is not reading a text twice. Learning is to manipulate information, play with information, until the  the light is shining, a connection is emerging, knowledge is being made.

Teaching to learn #cck11

If you were a teacher and you could only teach a short period of time. What topic would be absolutely necessary?  What skills and knowledge would you really have to teach before time was over?  Stephen Downes has an opinion on that.

“…It is naïve and unrealistic to assume that the use of e-learning, however it is defined, in and of itself will transform students into autonomous and self-directed learners…” writes Learner Weblog‘ John.

There are certain foundational skills necessary for learning in an open online environment. Early research indicates the need for learners to practice digital responsibility (including management of personal privacy and respectful behavior), digital literacy (ability to find and vet resources as well as differentiate between valid and questionable resources or crap detection), organization of online content, collaborating and socializing with subject matter experts and fellow students, and the ability to use online applications to synthesize content and create learning artifacts. (comment of wdrexler in chronicle.com) (Video on this subject: A teacher is needed )

Is it possible to learn these foundational skills in a MOOC or online course? Linn Gustavsson: “…. Yes, I think so. However, most important of all: Adults (teachers) must take part, watch, comment, observe, play, learn together, or just be there, right next to the child. My students perform better in maths when their teacher are just sitting, silent, next to the student. My sisters child, has all kinds of advanced tools to play with. Still he express “I want you to sit here with me, I don´t want to play alone”. My stepson just loves the iPad and learns fast from it. Still, he often wants to show to us what he is doing and he wants us to take part. He does NOT want to learn alone. Tech-things can never replace humans. …”

Maria Droujkova :‎”… Hole in the wall” project….”  Collaboration is everything in these projects, are the children the ‘informal’ teachers?

Is the (social) network providing the human touch that Linn mentions?  In a MOOC-network one has to learn to give positive comments, and be very conscious in using peanut butter to glue the participants to the course.

Gilian writes “…Way back in 1987, Chickering and Gamson came up with seven principles of undergraduate learning design which still underpin many of today’s courses:

1 Encourages contacts between students and faculty
2 Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
3 Uses active learning techniques
4 Gives prompt feedback
5 Emphasizes time on task
6 Communicates high expectations
7 Respects diverse talents and ways of learning. …”

My question: could the ‘informal teacher’ in the network fulfill  these 7 tasks?

Focus #CCK11 “I don’t know the way, so I never get lost”

According to George Siemens Focus is an important step in doing a MOOC. (George You stated focus is an important aspect of a MOOC to you personal, I doubt if it is that important to me. In this post I want to look more into focus)

Well let’s focus on Focus.  Focus, or Attention, is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. At the neural network level, it is thought that processes like lateral inhibition mediate the process of competitive selection.In order to solve a problem or  “… Our group members all passed the exam (yay!) and we’ve got our diplomas. …”

In psychotherapy-related disciples, the term focusing is used to refer to the simple matter of holding a kind of open, non-judging attention to something which is directly experienced but is not yet in words. Focusing can be used to become clear on what one feels or wants. (Eugene Gendlin)

Did you ever focus on an aspect of the environment and because of your focussing got an accident? You looked at something or somebody and you did not see the danger that was coming?  Do not focus too much, keep an eye on the environment.
And while focussing, do not forget what is important in life,  like family or people. “… “Today is the day to talk, to reach out with open arms, to show our love, to say we are sorry, to forgive, to connect, or reconnect. Please, let’s do it before it is too late….”

Question, how does one focus in a network, Networks are a kind of group, but they are distinct in that they are defined by diversity. How does a Filipino BBQ fit into Focus? To me, the switch from the you-will-come-to-my-BBQ-and-eat-what-I-tell-you of traditional education needs to become the oh-wow-all-your-contributions-were-such-a-pleasant-surprise-and-look-how-we-enjoyed-sharing-them-and-learning-from-each-other of connectivism.

Focus needs something. It needs a field, what will you focus on, and what will be your lens? If you use a tele lens you will see very little. If you use a fish eye lens you will see everything

And what will I focus on? I guess for me the process of MOOC-ing is more important than the product. And when enjoying a process, do not focus to narrow. Try to keep an open eye for the unexpected. (serendipity)

Playing with a form and Focus:

What constitutes understanding Focus depends on your relationship to it. Discussions of Focus will seldom make reference to mental states or mental contents of the discussants. Instead, discussion will focus on the concept itself, its implications, applications, limitations, and so on.
An account on the premise that focus is a relationship with a part of the environment rather than something in the head of an individual  for instance, could be expected to reveal quite a bit about the extent and accuracy of the speaker’s understanding of Focus

The happy network, a fairy tale #cck11

This is a story about responsability in a connectivist network.

I like the story because the responsibility fits nicely in the connectivist paradigm. It is all about responses (answers)  and questions. “..If I am, does this mean that the network has some sort of power over me and what I can post on my blog? How does this relate to autonomy, which is a key principle of connectivism?…”Jenny Mackness on autonomy and accountability .

Leadership #cck11

Reading Helen McCarthy, Paul Miller and Paul Skidmore Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world?

Regulatory and networks: paradox? How could one node regulate the network? (I am writing about a mesh network, without a clear boundary.

Ownership, who owns the network, who owns the polder? In my region, Holland, long time ago, people had to protect their farms against floods. Everybody, all neighbors, was needed in the project to build a polder with dykes and canals, so everybody had a voice. All farmers owned some land, but nobody owned the polder (the total amount of land and dykes and canals).  If you did not want to help to protect the polder, you lost your land.Read More »

Kuhnian revolution #cck11 Agent in/is the network

In cognitivism, manipulation of symbols became a central idea. In the 1980 an alternative framework emerged in network models. In network models, or connectionism, construction of knowledge does not involve manipulation of symbols. When the network is unstable (a need, a problem arises) information is gathered until the network is stable again (the solution is found). (Connectionism and the mind, an introduction to parallel processing in networks, William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen, 1998 Blackwell isbn 0-631-16577-0).
In my humble opinion this is an answer to the question of an agent in a network.
Graeme Ferris: ” … it does not address the dynamic nature of the entities, agents, humans, etc that are used to model the “nodes” in a network. …” . The dynamic nature is in the unstable state of the network. And of course humans in the network will feel the unstable state of the network.

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?

Power and Authority in network learning #cck11

What about power and information? I regard these two subjects power an authority as one, i.e. as connected.  The Authorities is the government and people in power. In 1968/69 an anarchist movement called ‘Provo’ in the Netherlands provoked the power of the authorities.
A person could be called an authority in a certain field of knowledge. This kind of authorities are on TV when something difficult has to be explained.

In a complex or a distributed network authority is not an important concept. The proof of the value and truth of information is important. A person could be called an authority when he is a valuable node in an information network. (This is a mistake, not the person is an authority, but his information is true). Authority, as a grading of a blog’s worthiness, is used by Technorati.

The central node in a star-network has power being a central switch.
Albert-László Barabási states that “nodes always compete for connections because links represent survival in an interconnected world” (2002, p.106). This competition is largely dulled within a personal learning network, but the placing of value on certain nodes over others is a reality. Nodes that successfully acquire greater profile will be more successful at acquiring additional connections. ” But  “Weak ties are links or bridges that allow short connections between information. … This principle has great merit in the notion of serendipity, innovation, and creativity. Connections between disparate ideas and fields can create new innovations.”

People tend to believe authorities. Most authorities fall off their pedestal after some time, but that does not prevent people to believe.  People send URL’s of TED talks of a famous speaker telling a “truth”. Why should we  listen to and believe these famous speakers if they are only preaching. A very famous speaker (in educational Holland) prof. Wim Veen talked  in educational congresses about “young people who are able to do multitasking”.  He was wrong, scientist keep saying multitasking is rubbish. Learning to mistrust authorities and the difference between truth and fiction is important. Here the word “Cascade phenomena” (every node accepts a decision because of everybody does) comes in mind

In a sense authority (I mean the quality, not the person) is what I believe of the trustworthiness and value of information. Authority of spokesmen is used to strengthen  the value of information. I prefer proof above authority.

Prof. W. Luypen, philosophy and ethics and a Catholic monk  said: ” Power is not logically connected to abuse of power… But in the history of mankind power always has been connected to abuse. ”  (college note)  The distrust in Europe in Google is based on this experience wisdom.  (This is a authoritative  argument, do not trust it but think it over. Distrust authoritative arguments)

Authority of teachers, of the school system, using their power to destroy children’s youth is considered a crime by The Innovative Educator. Teachers should show a way, be a guide. Authority of school officials using power to superimpose a program is killing (Et le système meurt doucement.)  education says Christine Vaufrey.

In the real world systems (with power and authority) and networks (sometimes without power and authority) are mixed and intertwined.

Barabási, A. L., (2002) Linked: The New Science of Networks, Cambridge, MA, Perseus Publishing.

Connecting cultures #cck11


In Connected Knowledge and the language barrier Apostolos Koutropoulos mentions the problem of languages as a barrier in understanding knowledge.
I would like to mention another barrier behind this language barrier. It is the cultural barrier. A blogpost in a non English language often comes from members from other cultures with different views.

Students only reading English language posts do miss a lot of the ‘weak ties’ and challenging information from foreign people. They miss the fine differences and nuances of cultural richness and cultural differences.

Culture (1) is: An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
Culture (2) is: The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.

Both kinds of culture as mentioned above are different in different groups and countries.

Even education and science in non-English countries differs from that in English countries. The education system and the content of education differs.

In Anglo-Saxon education various forms of creative and critical writing is important in English lessons. In the Netherlands the lessons in Dutch Language  are different with less writing and more time for learning to understand language. The goals are different.

In USA far more people seem to believe constructivistic philosophical views on epistemology than in continental Europe.

It is not only a language barrier, it is a very high and almost invisible cultural barrier.

The cultural barrier often is invisible because of the language barrier.

I agree with Apostolos Koutropoulos, reading blogs and posts in other languages and from other countries in this MOOC is a great experience.