What does my learning look like? #octel

So for #octel this week our first task is

What is learning? (30 minutes)

Think about the last time you learned something. Describe what you learned? How did you go about learning it? What strategies did you use? ”

I am going to look at 2 very different bits of learning that have happened to me recently.

First yesterday I attended a taster training on collaborative web tools (and to be fair it was pitched at people who know a lots less about the web than I do).  The trainer did a lot of talking and describing tools and I learnt that you can share edit rights on prezi.

This is a ” I: Know that” level of learning, someone told me something and I remember it (although I expect if I hadn’t written it down in the blog I would have forgotten in a few weeks because I don’t use prezi because I find it too fussy)

The other bit of learning was a month or so ago when I was taking part in another mooc (#EDCMooc) and we were looking at what it meant to be a human (see an earlier post of mine), I learnt how to create my own definition of what is a human.

This is at the top end of the scale “IV: Other”, I watched a number of short videos about aliens, robots etc to give some context, saw Steve Fuller give a short talk about defining humanity and read a number of articles on the subject.  I then read and commented on some of the blog posts of some of the other students before writing and posting my own blog (and responding to the comments)

It is this second piece of learning that I am going to use for

“Activity 3.1: Theories of active learning

Select a learning theory and write a short discussion piece on how you would relate it to

  • how you learn;
  • your current practice;
  • the design of Technology Enhanced Learning activities. “

The learning theory I will use is Constructivism.

Now when I think about learning I tend to think about “thought forms”, there is something to know/learn/comprehend and I gradually build up a understanding of it in my brain.

Asparagin 8418

I envisage this as assembling a bunch of connections in my neurons a bit like the molecular models we use in chemistry to show the structure of molecules (see on the left but also imagine the electricity of my thoughts running through it).

Each time I think about it or engage with more learning on the subject the thought pulses through the structure and adds bits or reinforces bits or gloms the whole lot onto another thought structure if I make a connection with another bit of prior learning.

When I am working with others I am building my “thought form” and helping them to build theirs (as they are helping me to build mine).  They dont actually reach into my head and make connections but as they explain their thinking I can consider it and use it to build connections in my head.  2 people that collaborate on learning the same thing will have different “thought forms” in their heads, an experienced lecturer that is giving a talk (turning her “thought forms” into words) will have a very different “thought form” to the ones that end up being created in the minds of her listeners.

In my current practice I tend to get my students to do things/work things out themselves rather than demo-ing them.  This gives them more time to construct their knowledge themselves, I also tell them to ask people around them if they get stuck as this helps both them and the person they ask.  I also do a lot of group discussion and pair and share activities because this gives several passes over a topic (discuss it, tell others, do it?) .

When designing Technology Enhanced Learning activities make sure you give students several opportunities to engage – this post on my #octel Intro listed the number of interactions on a mooc vs traditional class.  The thing with this is, that by using the other students and what they say and think, you are moving into the Connectivist theory where your learning is in knowing who has the information and where it is (the social structure is the learning?).  However some have claimed that this is not strictly different enough from Constructivsim and other theories to stand on its own as a theory so in true Connectivist style I will link to a member of my PLN who has a much more erudite take on this than I do.


4 thoughts on “What does my learning look like? #octel

  1. James Little (@jimjamyahauk)

    Hi Joseph,

    I find it fascinating trying to identify sometimes the type of learning behaviour that sometimes occurs both in the face-to-face classroom and in online areas that involves collaboration and fellow students/learners. Whilst some activities can be design with constructivist leanings/enablers I often wonder how to classify the interactions that are part-social and part learning which may occur informally outside of the context of a specific activity but nonetheless overall enable learners to build their knowledge and understanding.

    Sometimes I wonder if filing such things under the headings of ‘human collaborative, social behaviour’ as a catch-all suffices.

    Interested to hear what others in your PLN think…

    As an aside I often wonder if I should make explicit my PLN on my website/other area or just keep it personal. Interested to understand how you construct yours.


    1. josephgliddon Post author

      Its a really interesting point James and I dont know that anyone has completely nailed a definition yet, have a look at Heutagogy and Connectivism as they are theories that are trying to articulate this area.
      Co-incidentally the comment by Wayne does link to a good article which touches on this.

      In response to your aside – I have just in the last couple of weeks set my blog to show who I follow and who follows me, similarly I have changed my google+ to show who is in my circles (well most of them) and who has circled me. My thinking behind this is that if I make it open then those people who are part of it might also connect and thus strengthen my PLE.

  2. Pingback: Week 8: Analytical and Critical Thinking | Becoming An Educationalist

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