My blog and my expertise?

The header image of this blog shows the history of my participation. Five years and four months is a long time and now I have a feeling that I want to change something.


In order to deepen my orientation I present more facts which Google Analytics offers me. Here is the overall situation: visitors, visits and pageviews.

Englblogi5vThe numbers of blog posts differ but they don’t correlate directly with the visits. The year 2010 is the top of posts: 20,24,64,16,26,50.

The first two years were connectivism studies CCK08 and 09. It was the beginning of my international participation.

The PLENK2010 course opened more ways and I was active for the first time. The year 2010 seems to be my real beginning towards international virtual life. After that year I have participated in many moocs. American eduMooc gave me some names to follow in Twitter. Two Coursera studies have been great experiences: Fantasy and science fiction. Human mind and Modern world was hard work and taught a lot. ELearning and Digital Cultures was so fascinating that I did it twice. Its facilitators’ team is charming and the community around the course seems to live forever.  First steps of learning and teaching in higher education was nearest to my former work at teacher education. I participated in it twice, first as a student and then as an expert participant. It helped me to find the old educational theorists in the internet and deepen my knowledge.

The following diagram shows the countries from which the visitors came to my blog. The overall number is 130.

Englmaat5vUSA is highest every year but UK goes up in 2013. Edcmooc and fslt are both implemented in British Universities. Australia goes up and more visitors come from there than from Canada. Philippines and India have noticed my blog later. Malaysia could be mentioned too. Europe is less interested in my blog (except UK). Germany was at the top on the first years, now the Netherlands leads the numbers. Finland I have left outside because I cannot separate my own visits from real visitors.

So it is a small English speaking community which I’ve learned to know during these five years. Some of my friends participated in the connectivist moocs but not everyone.  My connections are open and changing all the time. I recognise many names in Twitter and follow their blogs. Although new visitors have apparently come during the courses, the most favourited topics in my blog seem to be very general. They are near my real expertise and my permanent interest. I’ll list the blog posts here in order (how popular they have been):

Learning theories in teacher education from 2010-10-05 and category teacher education are at the top from year to year. Almost half of all direct visits are connected to this topic.This expertise is part of my history and I’ve no intention to continue in this field. They do what they want, it is not my job any more.

Then the numbers of page visits diminish quickly.

  • On connectivism again 2008-09-16 includes a diagram of experiental learning, which we used in teacher education. I suppose that this page is linked by Downes somewhere.
  • Learning theories and technology 2010-10-09 and Learning theories recent discussion 2010-10-07. I remember that Rita Kop appreciated my knowledge about Nordic discussion.
  • Social self organisation 2011-02-24 was connected to a Finnish project published in English. Understanding networking 2011-02-27  followed the same project. There was international interest in the air.
  • Learning Analytics 1st conference 2011-03-04 contains links to presentations. Also the following posts about LAK conferences have got readers for the same reason I believe. How to follow learning (LASI and LAK) 2013-07-12 continues with this theme.
  • Assessment can support development 2010-10-14 deals with the main topic of learning, based on my experiences at the teacher education.
  • Research about mooc pedagogy 2011-12-19 is my permanent interest.
  • I am the platform 2010-09-29 was my way to determine how to participate. This must be nerd talk, much spam to this post.
  • My footprints of edcmooc in febr, 2013-09-03 and the wikispace of the research project are the best research oriented blog posts which I have written until this. I should continue ..
  • Test your blog 2010-10-15 . This is a way to become famous, but I want to dive deeper to psychological knowledge and I haven’t continued in this way. It was interesting that all the answers belonged to introverts.

In the future I will focus my writing better. I do not participate in any courses but follow discussions according to my interests. Online learning, pedagogical principles of moocs and how research can help to find answers. Those are my topics this year.

Next weekend I intend to copy this blog to a new place and say farewell to edublogs. This platform has served very well, but I am not in a right place, I am not a teacher any more. I move this blog to my site or actually my son does it and I gave orders. I am not sure how I’ll continue blogging. Time will tell.

Andy Mitchell, one of those edcmooc digital angels, said me in Twitter that “You need to learn to praise yourself. Your contribution is important…” I have a lot to learn. How could I believe what Andy said?

Individual experiences in MOOC, my comment to Jenny and Carmen

I have enjoyed to read the article of Jenny Mackness and Carmen Tschofen “Connectivism and dimensions of individual experience”, published in IRRODL Jan 2012. You can read the article here.

The idea is to enrich connectivism by giving some psychological content, it is needed I think 🙂 So I am happy that Jenny and Carmen have begun this project. I want to understand what they have done, what are their findings and open questions. They observe ‘a growing tension between the elements of connectivity believed to be necessary for effective learning and the variety of individual perspectives both revealed and concealed during interactions with these elements.’ As a mirror they use the main principles of connectivism and they bring two personality theories beside the principles, they juxtapose three conceptualizations.

I gathered a simple picture about this:

They suggest that together these three concepts offer a lens through which we can explore dimensions of individual experience in connectivism open courses.

They want to explore the meanings and compare, analyze freely the concepts.

The Big five personality theory describes personality via traits – every individual is an unique combination of these traits. The Self-determination theory examines human growth and initiative as a form of dynamic potential and is  closely linked to understandings of psychology and motivation. I could ask why these theories but I leave it later, first I try to follow their findings. This is one possible way to go further, I do not doubt it.

All elements, they suggest, are significantly related to the interactions of connectivist learning and connectivist principles both in terms of gaining a broader understanding of the vocabulary and semantic nuances of terms used to explain connectivism and in understanding factors that affect how and why individuals may choose to engage with connectivist learning. Boldings are mine.

I try to understand the research method they use by giving an example.

Their exploration begins from autonomy. It means choice, control, independence.  It is known (proven in some research) that all educated people are not autonomous learners, some of them want control and guidance. Psychological autonomy is a broader concept: acting from own interest and integrated values, expression of self. In psychology there is no contradiction in maintaining self-expression and a community orientation simultaneously, they develop together. An autonomous individual is defined by commitment to three values and the ability to realize them: self-knowledge, self-direction, self-expression. So what?

A question from practice: How about  lurking, is it selfish or free-riding or a free individual choice?

And the answer after expanding the concept to psychology: “With this understanding, the interpretation of certain types of participation (or perceived non-participation) as selfishness and the denial of community values seems to reflect a personal worldview and may fail to acknowledge the complexity of individual engaged in virtual spaces.”

This is the way Jenny and Carmen proceed with questions. I consider this very interesting. They expand the given principles by combining to psychological dimensions. I appreciate their contribution in the discussion part of the article:

without this augmented recognition, there is the risk that connectivism will serve as another educational prescription or as a description of information and knowledge flow, rather than a theory of learning and a conduit for growth and even transformation ..

This is part one, I shall continue tomorrow about connectedness, diversity and openness and their links to personality theories. I need more images or diagrams or whatever my pictures are (tired now to use this foreign language, have to rest). See you!




Understanding networking

Today I was inspired to write this after answering Jenny Mackness’s post about attacks on connectivism. She has gathered links to various critical opinions and articles. I continue my pondering here. I don’t want to attack , it is fine to be interested in learning and try to build up theories about it. People try it in CCK-courses or is it better to say that Stephen Downes does with the help of George Siemens. I do not want to write about this, I appreciate their trying. I have worked as a teacher educator and action researcher etc and I am still interested in these questions. It is great to try to understand human learning.

Is it possible to handle a topic like ‘learning theory’ in an open course without former knowledge? I can’t see much sense in it, the theme is too challenging. Everyone has experience about learning, OK but it is not enough. And Experiental learning has already invented, no need to do it again. BUT networking could be a great topic to explore by networking and it could be enough. It is not a piece of cake either but it is more possible and useful. The final project in our first CCK course dealt with networking. It was a good assignment, an opportunity to become conscious about own doings.

My next question is about exploration, which methods we should use? How can we discuss about events in open courses? It takes time to understand basic concepts and theories. What is the level of  speaking: words, concepts, models. I said in my comment to Jenny’s post that openness is not working in CCK-courses and I meant that there is much obscure speaking. Participants are obliged to follow Stephen’s way to think, he takes a privilege to give content to words in his own way. For instance, he says what the word group means – he doesn’t care what others have said after their  research. It took time to understand this.

Now I see that connectivism is something that those two active men have developed based on their own experiences. It is their theory-in-use. This concept comes from Schön’s ideas about reflective practice (theory-on-practice). Networking is the main content, how it becomes possible with new technology. They have succeeded to implement open courses and offered the opportunity to anyone to participate. That is fine but should we focus on the method how we conceptualize and interpret and create new models. Should we re-invent science 🙂 ? Grounded theory has already developed, no need to re-invent it either. It helps to build up models from participative practice.

Learning theories are under development in many universities and research institutes, I see no sense in passing this fact. There are communities like EARLI who have excellent networks. It is not wise to deny all knowledge that exists. Open courses and networks may do whatever – and participants can choose what they want. Everyone is happy then?

You know the book (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) La Petit Prince:  Misunderstandings always become from words.. the fox said these words to Little Prince and he was right, yeah?

Summarizing CritLit2010 on a cloudy day

I returned to my studies again, got an interesting comment from Steve Mackenzie – studies do not stop when the course comes to its end. That is fine. Now I will gather information about our Critical Literacies Course from my point of view. – It is raining, not too hot at this moment, nice to write this. Thanks for the weather.

This blog was my way to participate. I wrote more than ever (in any course), 25 blog posts during 6 weeks. About 15 posts dealt directly with the given themes and two connectivism (we had one extra meeting about CCK studies). Some posts were my own pondering about identity, my former studies (Mezirov, Brookfield, Kosko, Himanen) and my workplace practices. I was very motivated during first weeks (5+5 posts per week)  but then my activity diminished (4+2+4+4) and I felt I was lost. There was a gap between the themes and my expertise and expectations, I could not surpass the gap. Some co-learners disappeared at the same time, it was perhaps third week?

My 25 blog posts received 59 comments: the post about connectivism as a frame got eight comments. I am sure that this discussion about connectivism will continue somewhere, sometimes. About ten people were commenting, I did not count the number. The readers and visitors during seven weeks (one week after ending) – Google Analytics tell big numbers. I feel astonished. The map has not changed (I gave one 1.7.) but numbers are bigger.

analyticsThere was almost 900 visits (897) and 2347 openings: 2,6 pages and 4 min per visit.

209 visitors from 32 states (USA =1, 23 states from USA) – so 54 states. Only 20% of visitors were new (many had opened pages during CCK-studies).

Canada 108, Australia 104, USA 58, UK 58, Argentina 29, Germany 22, Mexico 14, Uruguay 13, Spain 12, and then less than ten.

I know only some people in Canada: the facilitators and our researcher, John King, Ken Anderson, Alan Cooper. In Sydney lives Ruth Howard and Sui Fai John Mak – and Mike Bogle. From USA I got only one comment from Mary to my former CCK09 post. From UK I know Jenny Mackness and Steve Mackenzie. In Argentina lives Maria Fernanda Arenas. In Italy lives Carlo Columba, in Germany Matthias Melcher, in Mexico Benjamin Stewart and in Portugal Fernando Luis Santos. Seven of them I knew already and seven were new to me. Some were only at the beginning of studies, some only in one part of discussion and so on. All the time active is always Sui Fai John, I wonder how much energy he has and how he takes the time. He is not free as myself and John King (just retired and still students).

I just answered the research questions, which were very general. I cannot assess the course as a whole. It activated and I wrote a lot and commented others’ blog posts, visited Moodle and noticed that only  few people wrote there. I remember only one Moodle  discussion about expertise and some Maria’s writings.

I checked all the given materials and read only if I wanted. Some videos were important: Dave Snowden, Howard Rheingold, Danah Boyd. I have followed all the sessions I found and liked presentations of Grainne Conoly, Dave Snowden, Graham Atwell and Jenny Hughes, Paul Bouchart and Susan Metros.

About technology I learned that Open meeting did not work properly but Ellumination worked. I learned to use Diigo and to write sticky notes but did not use my skill. I have to look our Diigo some day. I admired Ruth Howard’s Netvibes. So much to learn about web tools..

At this moment I remember Rita Kop’s article about connectivism. It was written in 2008 but I had not noticed it earlier. It helped me to assess connectivism. I am interested in analyzing this global movement in which I have participated. It was fine to find again Hacker Ethic as a frame of my web life. I suppose that many connectivist people belong to Open Source Movement but not everyone. I am wondering what happens to the movement: there seems to be George’s line and Stephen’s line separately – and perhaps many others. I do not know. Next CCK course will begin in September 2010.

I agree with Dave Snowden that the learning theory needed  is social constructivism. It tells same principles as connectivism. Steve’s comment that George believes old theories are  focusing internalization and connectivism externalization – interesting but only a throw. Internalization and externalization go always hand in hand, not separately, they turn to each other all the time. Or, if you definitely want to focus on external – so connectivism can be seen as neo-behaviorism, not the first time 🙂

The aim to understand learning, it is great and we must follow possible changes.

Hacker ethic as a basis of my literacies

Open Source movement can be seen as a precedent of connectivism. I have got some insights today after reading Stephen Downes answer and drawing many pictures and curves for understanding the meaning of connectivism. I wrote a  comment to Downes but it disappeared somewher. So it is better to write here.

Hacker ethic seems to be something I accept and feel commited to. I tell about it accurately in order to avoid  misunderstandings. I use the book of Pekka Himanen The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of Information Age, 2001. Prologue by Linus Torvalds and Epilogue by Manuell Castells. I also appreciate Glyn Moody’s book Rebel Code. The Inside Story of Open Source Revolution. I have been pondering about this movement, why it has been succesful? All boldings are mine.

MIT passionate programmers started calling themselves hackers in the early sixties – enthusiastic individuals who just started to realize their ideas with other like-minded individuals working in free rhythm. A hacker is basically an expert or enthusiast of any kind. It is attitude toward work that matters, their work ethic.

Unix philosophy means that you need to have or recover that attitude:  You need to care. You need to play. You need to be willing to explore.  It means working like an artist, you have a calling. The precursor is the academy – open development of sciences with passionate life. Being a hacker is lots of fun, but it’s a kind of fun that takes an effort. Hard work and dedication will become a kind of intense play rather than drudgery.

Money per se is not what ultimately motivates people. For hackers computer itself is entertainment. They are doing something interesting and also get the social part. This is how they have this fundamental Linux networking effect where you have a lot of hackers working together because they enjoy what they do. Agility is gained by networking.

Certainly this is my life, our life, which we must live fully, not a stripped beta version of it.

Everyone needs to belong to some group within which can feel oneself approved. But mere approval is not enough: we also want to be recognized for what we do and we have a need for an even deeper experience that of feeling loved and loving someone else. To put it another way,  human beings need the experience of being part of We with some others the experience of being respected within some community and the experience of being a special I with someone else. By doing a good job a person may gain recognition. Raymond says that hackers are motivated by the force of peer recognition.

The Hacker Open Learning Model can be called Net academy , where a teacher can be seen as a midwife or a master of ceremonies. Hacker world is decentralized, groups engaged in similar activity. Lack of strong structures is one of the reasons why this model is so powerful.

Learning starts with setting up an interesting problem, working toward solution by using various sources, then submitting the solution to extensive testing. Learning more about a subject becomes the hacker’s passion. The process of teaching also involves by its very nature the comprehensive analysis of subject matter.

Every learning event would permanently enrich all other learners. Hackers follow concurrent versioning systems: how they differ form existing and each other. On a more theoretical level the problem can be solved by the practice of referees – deep understanding, criticizing, questioning, collective process.

Truth knows no borders. Information wants to be free. Technology is the key.

The ICT professional is self-programmable and has the ability to retrain itself and adapt to new tasks, new processes and new sources of information as technology, demand and management speed up their rate of change. Almost all knowledge becomes outdated quickly, the self-programmable need to to reprogram their expertise constantly.

So much has said before connectivism. My following task is to ponder the subject matter: hackers have programming and they knew it. They did not say that they connect what ever in the world. How about connectivism? I have a hunch that it can be a meaningful theory for amateurs who use computers and have no special discipline behind. When an old and experienced person like me begins to study connectivism it means re-inventing everything I already know. This is only a feeling, have to explore it more.

I take a break, thunder is coming and I close my computer.

Connectivism – an umbrella or frame or?

Our Friday session about CCK08 triggered my mind to ponder connectivism generally. Jenny gathered many conception of George Siemens and Stephen Downes, please read her post Some notes about connectivism. I had read an article of Rita Kop and Adrian Hill in Rita’s blog. I did not notice it earlier and perhaps it is good, because I can now follow it better. I have made almost the same conclusions in my mind during last two years.

I have to use quotes because of my poor English. The writers and references are found in the article Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? published 2008. The starting point was that Siemens and Downes initially received increasing attention in the blogosphere in 2005 when they discussed their ideas concerning distributed knowledge. The question was (as we  know )

Would a new theory that encompasses new developments in digital technology be more appropriate, and would it be suitable for other aspects of learning, including in the traditional class room, in distance education and e-learning?

Kerr (2007d) identifies two purposes for the development of a new theory: it replaces older theories that have become inferior, and the new theory builds on older theories without discarding them, because new developments have occurred which the older theories no longer explain. – These are questions I have been asking during my studies. At the beginning I thought we need a new theory, but now I am not sure.

Existing theories satisfactorily address the needs of learning in today’s technologically, connected age. Verhagen (2006) criticises connectivism as a new theory, primarily because he can distil no new principles from connectivism that are not already present in other  existingg learning theories.

Where connectivism draws its strength is through using Web-based activity as an example of learning looking through the connectivist lens.  The analogy is intuitive and powerful because of the ubiquitous use of the Internet in today’s world.  In addition, Downes (2006) has elucidated an epistemological framework for distributed knowledge which provides a strong philosophical basis for the connectivist learning framework. – Now in CritLit2010 we are participating in Stephen’s experiment (?) about new media as language: how linguistics help us to understand learning in digital Age. Right?

Kerr: no theory, including the connectivist model, sufficiently explains higher order thinking “as a mechanism spanning brain, perception and environment.”  He states that “knowledge is not learning or education.”  He challenges connectivism to explain “transferring understanding, making understanding and building understanding”, and the internal processes that lead to “deep thinking and creating understanding”.

I wonder if theories ever could explain human learning, it is so complex that it cannot be reached through neural network models or any neuroscience. I believe in Psychology which deals with human mind, identity, self-concept – this must be near Philosophy. Mathematics or linguistics cannot solve this problem 🙂

Verhagen (2006) sees that connectivism fits exactly at this level of pedagogy and curriculum rather than at the level of theory, since, in effect, people still learn in the same way, though they continue to adapt to the changing technological landscape.

Also the writers Rita Kop and Adrian Hill agree with pedagogical influences: A paradigm schift may be occuring in educational theory and a new epistemology may be emerging but it does not seem that connectivism’s contributions to the new paradigm warrant it being treated as a separate learn theory in and of its own right. it may help the schift in Pedagogy from tutoring to more autonomous learning.

At last I have to say that I implemented the new self-directive pedagogy in 1980’ies and didn’t need any connectivism to do it. Networking was the concept we used and networked learning still is the main concept I need. But connectivism is a lens or umbrella or … something like good practice for training networking skills.

After writing this out of my mind I can turn to our last week theme, semantics. It makes sense, I suppose 😉

I add a link to Maria’s post which includes some further discussion between three great men: Siemens, Snowden and Downes.

Anything new about connectivism?

We – participants of CCK08 (=Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, year 2008) course have a dream that it was a Very Special Course because it was quite open global course. It was almost first and really first wellknown global course in Europe. In this post I am asking how connectivism can be seen in the presentations of Networked Learning Conference, held last week in Denmark.

Frances Bell helps me a lot, her presentation includes many answers. Not all people in the world know internet. The scientific world is not (yet?) interested in connectivism but Actor-Network Theory is better known and in-use. She also describes our facilitators George Siemens ja Stephen Downes: an example of diversity themselves. It is not easy to follow their theoretical considerations but we know the tools used during the course. The technological dimension was reported by Antonio Fini in November 2009.

Three CCK08 participants Jenny Mackness, Roy Williams and Sui Fai John Mak made a survey and interview concerning our learning habits and changes during the course. Why did we use blogs or forums, how could we explain our choices and other happenings. They reflected the principles of networking: autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity and found them very challenging to achieve. We got experiences about problems and disturbances and very few of us continued to the end.

I appreciate this research, it helped me to become more conscious about my own learning. They had two presentations in Networked learning Conference. I found some blogs in autumn 2009 which described and assessed learning. I have written about these in my earlier post.

Connectivism was used as a framework of this presentation which aims to find more support for research. I am sure this is not the only one with this purpose. So I could find four presentations of total 96 with connectivism in their background (perhaps there are more, I am not sure). Theoretical backgrounds were chosen in key speakers: Etienne Wenger and Yrjö Engeström. Rather popular was Knowledge Forums (Bereiter, Scardamalia) – not our dear connectivism.

Who could see the future of global online studies? I am convinced that CCk08 and CCK09 have wide influences here and there. Perhaps it will never be a theory but it has developed the practice and showed to the entire world that it’s possible to study openly online.  So let’s continue. George Siemens and other Athabasca teachers continue, Stephen begins with Critical Literacy in June 2010 – it’s perhaps worth of trying.