Connectivism, the practice already happened. Let me repeat that, “Connectivism already happened.” Educators, around the world, have moved forward, integrating technology into practice. The members of my PLN, all of my diverse PLN entities, are using technology, for their own autonomous Continuous Professional Development, and for providing technology-enhanced, engaging, fun, learning experiences for students.
Now here’s the rub, the curious thing. No one has explained it.
A transformative shift in education practice, better described as a tectonic shift, has occurred, yet no theory has emerged which allows educators to act in a principled manner.
Everyone is “doing their own thing”. Even me, I’m doing my own thing. I live in a country where the open, free sharing of materials, resources, and ideas, just doesn’t happen with any regularity. So, at the moment, my greatest contribution is the fact that people know I’m willing to share my ideas, resources, skills, and knowledge, for free, with anyone.
Now, is that connectivism? Can we theorize about what constitutes connectivist behaviour?
Today, let’s try to answer, tentatively, the question of how a connectivist behaves, in regards to sharing resources and knowledge.
On the one hand, you have Teacher A.
Teacher A is smart, clever, bright, tech savvy, brilliant with technology, and knows where to find new technological tools for use with the students. Except Teacher A shares nothing with colleagues. his secrets will die with him, lie in the same tomb, the same grave, under the same dirt, being eaten by the same worms, as Teacher A.
Now there’s Teacher Z.
Teacher Z is average, but a hard worker. Teacher Z talks to colleagues a lot, is friendly, sociable, outgoing, a nice person. Not a brilliant teacher, not a great teacher, not a gifted or talented teacher. As I said, Teacher Z is average.
In the staffroom, where teachers get together for a cup of coffee, a break between classes, Teacher Z shares some of the challenges of teaching. Colleagues offer encouragement, advice, tips, strategies, and techniques. They give informal help with technology, classroom management, and emotional support. Colleagues in the staffroom share resources with Teacher Z. Teacher Z, in turn, shares the knowledge, experiences, and resources with other teachers.
So, what is the behaviour of a connectivist teacher? Teacher A, or Teacher Z?
So, the explanation is that a connectivist teacher interacts with colleagues to support colleagues, help to improve their performance, to maintain their knowledge current, up to date. By doing this, the connectivist teacher is rewarded, because you benefit from the interaction. how? you remain current, and up to date, by helping someone else stay current, and up to date.
Interaction: A connectivist teacher interacts with colleagues.
Sharing: A connectivist teacher shares knowledge and resources.
Currency: A connectivist teacher strives to remain current in his/her knowledge.
Technology: A connectivist teacher embraces technology, and uses it, to interact with colleagues, globally.
For right now, this is a good start. This part of connectivism, really, has already been worked out. Practitioners, we didn’t just invent the wheel. What happened?
We nodded our heads. We said yes, “That is an accurate explanation of what we do.” Now, let’s pause for a moment, and look at connectivism in action, in this school. Remember, we want to look at practice, and then explain why it works. Why is it good? Why is it successful?
Now here’s the BIG question. What scientific research do we need to do to prove this is a better way for students to learn? You see, until the rigorous, scientific research is done, all you have, is simply your opinion.
You know what I mean. Yes, it’s fun. Fun for you, enjoyable for students, no kids in discipline problems.
But is it better than those who learn without being connected? What’s the evidence? What are your facts? If all we have is an opinion, then as soon as the next educational fad comes along – say robots – which they already have in Korea – are we all going to be getting robots?
Robots are fun, enjoyable, low maintenance, and work for much less than a teacher. In fact, robots work for free. Schools without teachers, the next educational fad?
So, this is a wake-up call to my fellow practitioners out there who are having a lot of fun with technology. Unless we begin to try to scientifically explain why teaching “with technology” works, well, we may find ourselves, in some distant day, being replaced by robots or some new fad, which is also a lot of fun, enjoyable, and doesn’t require teachers… Enjoy the video.