Learning happens


I thoroughly enjoyed the post by @hbailie titled
Stigmergy, deep reading, and John “Pigsarse” Elliott

I find myself also asking what Rheingold and @hbailie have questioned “Can our digital tools make us smarter?” I too, have undertaken so much deep reading over the last month that my head is about to burst with ideas and questions. I too am being helped along tremendously by a number of digital tools and the network of knowledge that I am plugged into.

The concept of “knowledge in networks” is becoming much clearer to me.

Let me digress (my mind doesn’t sit still for long): I have come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that many of the concepts that we are exploring in this M.Ed journey have strong roots in social network perspectives, such as those presented by Kadushin (2012) and Carolan (2014). In his book “Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings” Charles Kadushin reminds us that:

Social networks… have been at the core of human society since we were hunters and gatherers. People were tied together through their relations with one another and their dependence on one another.

(Kadushin 2012)

These observations link in extremely well with the concepts explored by @hbailie in the above post. The ideas of stigmergy and collaborative stigmergy sit well with the concept of people being intimately connected. These thoughts all hint at the need to collaborate and learn together. We are social beings and current shifts in education are reminding us of these connections and how they need prioritising in 21st century pedagogy.

Chatting with @hbailiee at the State Library of Victoria and her subsequent blog post also led me to mull over the writings of Carolan (2014) who presents a social network view of education saying simply that “relationships do matter” and “relational ties between individuals are opportunities for transmission of resources;” (p. 21). This unit of study (Concepts & Practices for a Digital Age) is introducing and reinforcing ideas of connected learning that I have no doubt will transform my professional practice as an educator.

I contrast these meanderings with how dominant views of education isolate learners in the classroom, even attempting to isolate individual actors (in this case students) from one another, even within the classroom setting. Carolan (2014) talks about removing the actor from his/her social context. This is something that I have always struggled with as an educator because the focus of any classroom then is not the students but outcomes. This is stated so eloquently by Connie Yowell in the recording “Connected learning” (DMLResearchHub 2012). Yowell declares that we start with the wrong questions and must move towards a core question that asks “Is the kid engaged?”

So, here we are learning about knowledge networks, stigmergic collaboration, social networks and even connectivism as a learning theory (Siemens 2004). The question that I must answer is; how will my students learn from me next week, the week after…in six months time? Hopefully, slightly (radically) differently.  The trick will be to show these young learners explicitly that they can learn from their classroom networks as well as the extended knowledge networks that they are already connected to, now and in the future.

Let me leave one final quote that hopefully speaks to others within their context of teaching and learning:

Educational research treats learning as an individual outcome, ignoring the messy relational processes through which you form an opinion or an understanding on a topic of interest. Social networks obviously play a central role in the sharing of information and formation of opinions.

These words also spoke to me loudly as I collaboratively built a wiki relating to digital citizenship. The process was collaborative but messy and relational …but that’s another story.

References:

Carolan, B. (2014). Social network analysis and education: theory, methods and applications. California. SAGE Publications

DMLResearchHub. (2012, September 19) Connected Learning: Interest, Peer Culture, Academics. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from http://youtu.be/zFdzz26g-EE

Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks: Theories, concepts and findings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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Bloom, Fink and going SOLO in a BYOD world

Taxonomy of learning in knowledge networks

inmap (1)

A map of my LinkedIn Professional Learning Network

Taxonomies

I am science trained and know that in the study of the sciences, taxonomies are not set in stone. The way we classify organisms  has changed since I was a Biology student. Back then we also had nine planets in our Solar System, whereas now we have eight because the way we categorise planets has changed. These changes are a great lesson in how knowledge changes over time. Our world views change.

I am keeping this in mind as I explore the learning taxonomies that have played a major role in education, including those shown below in Figure 1.

Are these taxonomies relevant in 21st Century classrooms?

What is a learning taxonomy anyway? According to O’Neill (2010): “Learning
 taxonomies
 or
 classifications
 are commonly
 utilised
 as
 a
 way
 of
 describing
 observable
 learning
 behaviours
 and
 activities
 that
 we
 wish
 our
 students
 to
 develop.” The following image (Figure 1) shows some Taxonomies along with their dates of publication.

taxonomy

Figure 1 : Educational Taxonomies : Sourced from O’Neill & Murphy (2010)

These taxonomies have assisted many educators in describing student learning. So whilst engaging with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Anderson 2001) we learn to describe student learning in terms of listing, memorising, reciting, classifying, reading, rewriting, finding…to perhaps show they have stored prescribed knowledge in their heads. For your interest read Biggs and Collis (1982) to help develop an understanding of SOLO.

However, educators such as Steve Wheeler (2012) are now making sense of new world views where knowledge is more widely distributed and sits outside of the learner. As Weinberger (2011) says: “Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network….”

Should we, in light of the connected world we now live in and the knowledge networks that our students can draw on change the  ways we view and describe student behaviour and learning outcomes.  After all, we are now just a node amongst many. Things have changed. The information ecology that we now exist in has changed.

Just for interest, the social graph at the top of this post illustrates my LinkedIn network. This can be seen as a good example of a knowledge network.

Another observation is that these taxonomies describe the individual and do not reflect a connected digital world where learning is becoming “increasingly a networked phenomenon”. (O’Connell 2014)

Connectivism

Educators are now discussing connectivism (Siemens, 2004) which is proving to be a good lens through which to explore 21st Century Learning. Louise Starkey (2010) does this with clarity.  She argues that 21st century educators will be “limited in their ability to teach the upcoming generation to be active participants in a digitally enhanced society without understanding how to apply theories of learning that are relevant to a digital age into their practice.”

As a simple activity, try Googling “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy’ using Google images. The colourful search result that appears on my screen suggests that we are struggling to  fit an old tool to a new purpose. Maybe also, we are trying to fit new digital tools into old taxonomies. Steve Wheeler (2012 June 26) talks of “Bloom reheated”. What are your thoughts on this?

As explored by Bawden (2012) “technology does not change the ways of dealing with information” but information ecologies have changed particularly with the advent of social media technologies. In this new information ecology, should we continue to refer to Bloom’s (revised) taxonomy whilst reflecting on lesson plans and pedagogy. Or should we, you perhaps, refer to a new tool through which you would reflect on your teaching?

Computational thinking might provide new guiding language/taxonomies.

Starkey (2011) argues that the connections that a student makes are an  important part of learning in the digital age and “it is through these connections that knowledge is created and critiqued”. This is an extremely important concept that is well worth exploring, particularly if we want to taxonomise such learning while acknowledging collaboration, connections, creation of knowledge and the sharing of this knowledge.

Summary

Alongside a group of CSU students scattered through Australia and overseas, I am currently learning to:

  • think critically
  • learn through connections
  • create and share knowledge

Some of the knowledge we are aggregating, curating, tagging, creating and critiquing is shared knowledge as it is stored in and accessible via our knowledge networks. How would Bloom, Fink and Biggs have structured their learning taxonomies to describe the learning that I am participating in?

References:

Bawden, D. & Robinson, l. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187 – 210). London: facet.

Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York, Academic Press

O’Neill, G. and Murphy, F. (2010) Guide to Taxonomies of Learning. Retrieved from UCD website http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/ucdtla0034.pdf

O’Connell, S. (2014) Knowledge Networks – Connected communities, open access, and connected learning [INF530 Module 3]. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from Charles Sturt University website: http://digital.csu.edu.au/inf530/module-3-knowledge-networks-connected-communities-open-access-and-connected-learning/

Weinberger, D. (2011) Too Big To Know. New York. Basic Books

Wheeler, S. (2012 June 26) Bloom reheated. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/bloom-reheated.html

Wheeler, S. (2012 Oct 26th) Theories for the digital age: Connectivism. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/theories-for-digital-age-connectivism.html

 

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