CCK08: How are we conditioned to learn, and more on CCK08 filters

So I am wondering: are there filters being imposed in the CCK08 class? I know I am applying my own filters. I decided early on I would keep up with blog posts and posts from the CCK08 twitter network. I stay away from the Moodle boards because they are very busy, and for at least the first couple of weeks they were also very negative (from my filtered view at least).

However, I click and read all the links sent via the daily as well as links from blog posts that come via my google alert. Vilpav Baxi’s post about Passion v. Reason showed up in the google alert today. I especially appreciated this comment:

“Secondly, it is very important to be able to base one of the distinctions between ”traditional” and “connected” in groups vs. networks,  in the context of the dominant educational systems today, otherwise you do not have a base reference to what you are trying to revolutionize (and revolution is what is required, IMHO). In that vein, calling this an experience vs. a course and similar examples, only reinforce the point that we must contrast in order to expose. We must expose in order to change”

I think this is a very important point. We are taught how to learn in the “dominant educational systems” of our modern world. Even Dr. Terry Anderson acknowledged this in the Elluminate session I attended this week when he said (and I am paraphrasing from memory here) that we are taught to expect the instructor-led model, so that we expect to receive instruction (and thus have the tools to learn) from this one model. That rings true for me in Corporate Ed, because Instructor-Led training (ILT) is the method most preferred by our audiences. (A question for another post: if we are conditioned to prefer ILT, will they accept the more connected way of learning provided by Web 2.0 tools?).

Those of us who think differently, whether we are “gifted”, “dyslexic”, “autistic”, or whatever other learning label you they stick to us, may have an easier time with receiving instructions in different (more connected) ways. We had to figure ways around the normal teacher-led model to survive the dominant educational system. We are used to looking for other ways of learning.

I learned very early how to get around the library, and would check out every single book on a topic I didn’t understand, until I found some kernel of information that helped me make sense of it (my label was gifted).  I also learned my times tables from School House Rocks (I don’t do well at all with rote learning, I always want to know WHY). My oldest was taught ways to endure the onslaught of sensory information so she could have the clarity to withstand ILTs (she has Asperger’s Syndrome and Sensory Integration Disorder). My youngest was thrown anything that he would read, but the only thing that ever worked was comic books (he still hates reading). He’s in college now and still relates EVERYTHING to comics (he’s doing a project now on how political times have influence the way Batman has been portrayed in the comic).

So the questions I see are two-fold. Did I need to learn my times tables? Yes, that was important. Did I have to work at learning them? Yes because I hate rote memorization. To this day I have to sing the “Three is a Magic Number” to get some of the answers. But I would never have been able to grasp binary or hex or octal without the times tables, and I would have never finished college, and never been doing what I can do now.

Would everyone best learn the times tables the way I learned them? Probably not. My nieces both just knew their tables. I don’t understand it.  The question to me becomes: how do you ensure  that everyone in a school setting learns what we expect them to learn. And what do we expect them to learn?  Is there a list of  what kids need to learn to survive in today’s society? Won’t a teacher’s own filters influence the way she allows her students to connect to the information they need?

One thing I want to add about filters. Vilpav’s post referenced the Moodle Forum Passion v. Reason. I am still smarting from being smacked down by Stephen Downes for simply asking if his definitions were the same as or different than the sociological or ethnographic definitions for groups and networks. I never got an answer, and was made to feel like I shouldn’t have even asked for the clarification.

I think Vilpav’s comments about being able to contrast and compare these definitions are right on: we have to be able to explain these differences to have an opinion on them.

I think Stephen is (perhaps unknowingly) creating rules and language for inclusion in the CCK08 group. For example, from reading his posts on this week’s topics, he seems to very much believe the sociologist view of groups and networks. I am not sure though, and am quite unwilling to ask now. Especially after some of the remarks he makes to others to trying to engage him in the Moodle forum:

“would not expect or require you to believe this. You can believe what you want. But I would expect you to understand the distinct that is being made here. Your posts suggests that you did not understand the difference.
Certainly, you made no attempt to demonstrate that you understood – you simply took a cheap shot without thinking about it. That does not play well either in the domain of reason or passion.”

“I’m sorry to be snippy – but I’m getting very tired of students in this course saying “I disagree” or “You’re wrong” without giving me even the faintest clue about what it is that seems wrong much less concrete evidence that they’ve read the work they’re disagreeing with).”

“Finally – please don’t feel singled out here. The remarks in this post are meant not just for you but for the other members of the course. Where I am indicating a dissatisfaction, I am indicating a general dissatisfaction, not just a dissatisfaction with you. It’s not personal. I am trying in my response to point to the standards I think are appropriate in a course of this level.”

So I feel stuck a bit in this course to be honest. I do not agree with Stephen’s argument that learning is not work (see my times table argument, also the only class I ever got a C in was stupid Earth Science and the rock test. GAH. Hated it). Sometimes learning base level knowledge is work, but it’s a necessary building block to understand higher order things like algebra (and all the good logical math that makes sense and I can deal with!). I am also having a hard time figuring out what he is actually saying, how it is different from existing definitions and work in group and network theory. I even tried working it out in a wiki, without much success.

But I also now feel I can’t participate in the CCK08 discussion. For some reason my words and methods of asking aren’t what one of the leaders of the CCK08 group expects, so I am in fear of being singled out for not understanding the language and norms. Effectively a filter has been created for me and the group.

10 thoughts on “CCK08: How are we conditioned to learn, and more on CCK08 filters

  1. Hi Gina,

    Your post really resonated with me. You are far more articulate and sophisticated in explaining how I feel.

    In my own way, I’ve been on the periphery trying to “grow” my understanding and translate how it applies to my practice. I’ve avoided the Moodle forums and like you participated through blogs, and consuming the “daily”. My postings have been for me and that some have found them and commented has expanded my network. I’ve sensed that as a novice in this content I’d best stay out of the way –Downes in the daily “but this can become very irritating for the expert” reinforced that. When I wrote my post today, I wondered should I not; and then I did it hoping no one would notice —

    I’m exited with my learning– and yet this nagging feeling— and you put your finger right on it!

    Lani

  2. I haven’t caught up with the CCK08 this week, so have not observed first hand the kind of interactions you are talking about here, Gina. But they do not seem out of line with earlier emerging patterns. Downes is not overly solicitous of the students in the course (here was one of my irritated moments: http://connect.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=44172). That’s up to him. But I think the learning point here is that to the extent that this whole experience (rather than course) is itself an instance of networked or connected learning opportunities, you can choose to filter out Downes if he ceases to be a productive node from your perspective. I am forever telling my students that they can learn as much from each other as from me if they chose to work that way, and I think the same applies here. I certainly appreciate your thoughts on this blog as much as anything on the Moodle. So I would encourage you to bypass the Downes node if it is unproductive, and draw on the collective knowledge and insights of your fellow students to help you figure out what you need to figure out.

  3. Hi Gina,
    >>But I also now feel I can’t participate in the CCK08 discussion. For some reason my words and methods of asking aren’t what one of the leaders of the CCK08 group expects, so I am in fear of being singled out for not understanding the language and norms. Effectively a filter has been created for me and the group.<<

    Please don’t feel that way :). A great part of connectivism is about being human and as humans we all have our own little idiosyncracies and/or personal beliefs. Don’t miss out on the Moodle forums if you have the time!

  4. Hi Gina,

    This post resonates with me too – add in the removal of functionality on the Moodle site for the course (nested views of the forums not working, and no highlighting of new posts) and I am finding it unworkable.

    Problem is, given Downes’ apparent dislike of the central Moodle forums as opposed to blogs, I am loathe to be ‘pushed’ to relying on blogging in place of the forums. My instinct is to stop engaging instead.

    Makes me wonder if there is a deliberate ‘Good cop/bad cop’ experiment going on (but that is probably just my paranoia)

  5. Hi Everyone,

    This is a good thread – sorry to take so long to jump into the discussion!

    Like you Gina, the last Elluminate meeting just didn’t sit well with me. I was under the impression they had been established as a way of discussing areas of uncertainty or confusion. Based on Downes comments this presumption is either incorrect, the purpose has changed, or there are conditions or requirements in what is discussed – e.g. only certain questions can be asked there, and others must be saved for the blogs or forums.

    Either way I think that it could have been handled differently than it was.

    For example, the confusion could have been taken as an opportunity to highlight the lack of symbolic meaning in language, and the significance of perspective in knowledge and learning. However when I asked what the difference was between a Homogenous Network and a Group – which made perfect sense to me but obviously not other people – I got a similiar sort of dismissive response.

    I can’t help but notice some of the terse, short tempered responses we see in the Moodle forums seeping into other areas of the course – which just doesn’t work for me at all.

    As I mentioned to Gina via Twitter shortly thereafter though, this also highlights the value of a Personal Learning Network.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  6. Thanks everyone for the comments. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way. After reading the Daily for today, I have some more comments of my own…but that is for another post.

  7. Pingback: CCK08: There *are* rules to engagement | Adventures in Corporate Education

  8. hi everyone.. what an interesting thread. the behaviour of groups when faced with conflict always interests me.We pair with others ,we go invisible or we come out fighting with gloves up. Even though its cyber groups or networks it still has powerful emotions attached to it doesn’t it? Really good discussion and i liked Gina’s reflections about gifted /autistic and dyslexic ,,,so right just labels with powerful affects on the individuals family. I really like this blog now have to learn how to add it to my RSS as I rely on google alerts and the daily to direct me as the side tracks take so much time up.

  9. Pingback: CCK08 - Group and Network Norms « An Education and Technology Blog

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