Mapping Learning Connections – Reflection

How has your network changed the way you learn?

My learning network has expanded positively, both in quality and quantity.  Through my enrollment at Walden University I have substantively added to my resource network through connectivist access to the university’s various online facilities: library, technology resources, writing support, student assistance, research assistance, in addition to access to a social community with which to “process” “reflect” and “deliberate” on information being learned, with the additional benefit of professional guidance through the instructor acting as a facilitator.

Additionally, through the Walden program I have been exposed to new ideas, new information, new resources as well as new perspectives with which to analyze the new concepts during my journey.

Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?

There are a variety of digital tools that have been effectively facilitating my learning.  However, again, through my new connection to Walden University, my exposure to new and different digital tools is increasing continuously.  For example, creating the mind map through Webspiration was very challenging for me.  I had never used the program before.  I also harbored the belief that my traditional outline/linear  “thinking” construction would produce better results; however, the assignment required the production of a mind map so I proceeded.  I discovered, to my amazement, that I could create connections in the mind map, visually, that I could not in outline form.  I actually tried.  Webspiration has an outline feature.  When the program auto-created the outline from my visual diagram, the results did not correctly represent the information in the diagram.  I created a second document where I tried doing the outline first and then having the program auto-create the mind map; this also resulted in an incorrect visual representation.  Apparently, there are benefits to mind mapping.  In the end, I created two versions of the same mind map, one complex version accessible through this hyperlink  http://www.mywebspiration.com/view/660921a1be3e or also viewable on my blog, and (one simplified available at http://www.mywebspiration.com/view/665904a9601 or also viewable on my blog.  I have also created another concept map since then for a discussion point I wanted to post.

Other digital tools that have facilitated my learning include document sharing, vimeo, skype, online courses, blogs and my long favorite, search engines.

How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?

As I just mentioned, one of my most favorite digital tools are internet search engines.  When I have questions the first place I turn to is the internet.  If I do not find what I am looking for with my first search engine, I move on to a second or a third; however, with the advent of Web 3.0 the search engines are becoming progressively more accurate to my individual needs all the time.

In addition, now that I have access through Walden University, I frequently turn to the university’s resources when I have questions, whether through research in the library or inquiry of my fellow cohorts.

In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?

According to Siemens, “the starting point of connectivism is the individual” (Siemens, 2005, p. 1), which is necessarily true in that it is “my” personal learning network.  The individual is challenged to make connections in order to achieve its utility in learning.

Further, the central tenets of connectivism are consistently reported as:

“Principles of connectivism:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision. (Siemens, 2005, p. 1; Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008, p. 1).

My personal learning network (PLN) would support all of the tenets of connectivism.  Certainly my interactions with Walden University students and instructors encourage learning and knowledge in response to a diversity of opinions.  Further, through Walden University and my own technological resources (non-human appliances), there is access to a plethora of information on virtually any topic a person can imagine.  As a result of so much information, it is clear “the capacity to know more is more critical that what is currently known” and “decision-making is itself a learning process” (Siemens, 2005, p. 1).  Gonzalez refers to the “half-life” of knowledge – the time span from when knowledge is gained until it becomes obsolete” (as cited in Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008, p. 1) thus requiring individuals to develop essential skills in critical thinking, decision-making and technology in order to discern the most valuable, current up-to-date, relevant information at any one point in time.

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References

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology (p. ). Retrieved from Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Siemens, G. (2005, Jan). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

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