Reflections on How My Connections Facilitate Learning

How has your network changed the way you learn?

My network has changed the way I learn in that it has added inspiration to my learning experience. Inspiration presents a big learning catalyst for me in that it ignites me with energy, which propels me forward. Siemens (2015) states, that he wishes to design tools, technologies, and pedagogies that not only incorporate the whole person (mind, body, and soul), but also emanate joy. My joy is derived from inspiration. Joy and positive energy if you will spark the mind as an engine, and then inspiration stems forth as the fuel – the gas that allows my mind to go forward. When I experience inspiration, my mind associates and creates from the material I involve with. I partake in a relationship with what I learn. It becomes part of me. For me, often times, inspiration does not merely fall from the sky, but rather, I have to seek it out. The networks I have listed within my mind map serve the purpose of inspiring me. They are my “go to” sources. Therefore, all in all, the network I have presented on my mind map has served me with consistent and dependable inspiration that I can go to ignite my learning experience.

Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?

In regards to digital tools, narrative writing, and the blog forum best facilitates learning for me. I enjoy learning from people’s personal experience. Personal narrative is a history lesson in and of itself -one that is not told in history books. Di Prima (1998) discusses the importance of the personal narrative in her book Memoirs of a Beatnik. In addition, Di Prima (1999) proclaims her famous quote: “The only war is the war against the imagination” in her poem titled “Rant” (p. 139). Personal narrative and the freedom to imagine resonate as key to my learning experience. Anytime I learn something new, I ask myself: How does this resonate with my thoughts and ideas, my experience, my values, and what I believe, which are all components of personal narrative.

Then, I often ask myself: What is possible? What could be that yet not is, which are components of imagination. Thus, I enjoy learning what these components are for other people via blogs: the narratives they communicate and the thoughts and ideas they imagine. Blogging as a tool communicates a more casual writing forum in which many loosen up a bit and share their experiences. Shared experience via a shared virtual network is the bread and butter if you will of connectivist theory. Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman (2008) state that “learning is a way of being” (para 1) Connecting to people via shared stories and narratives is a way of being that has been around since the beginning of time. The on-line forum is conducive and encouraging to sharing stories by means of all the various virtual platforms that now abound (blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc…). Therefore, on-line networking is effective, for I receive social learning from the on-line blogs that I frequent, the ones I documented on my mind map.

How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?

I often look up knowledge via the internet. I look to Google, Google Scholar, the Walden On-line Library, and my bookshelf. My bookshelf is the only form out of the list that I have provided that is not virtual. I go to on-line forums for mere convenience and accessibility. As an adult learner juggling many things at once, convenience is of high importance in my life.

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

My personal learning network supports the central tenets of connectivism. I am exposed to more people and information on-line each day than I am exposed to in my current day to day face to face interactions. The on-line forum is integral to my learning. I would even go so far as to say that I depend on it. In addition, I would add that the U.S. society supports and promotes this learning forum. New technologies are being created and developed each day. A lot of time and money goes into on-line forums and platforms. I do not see as much investment all in all in face to face forums. Events are still put on and brick and mortar classrooms continue to do wonderful things etc… But from a learning perspective, I see time, energy, and money being put into on-line sectors. As a writing instructor, I experienced this first hand at the locations of the various colleges where I taught (three different institutions in the past five years). All of them moved to on-line learning to supplement and support face to face classroom learning. A couple years ago, on-line instruction was mandated. It was rolled out as a required in the colleges where I was teaching. Therefore, I would add that on-line is where education has currently evolved to. I see it as a positive and huge success. It is not perfect. There is much room for growth and improvement, but all in all it has allowed so many people the option to learn and seek continual learning, so many people that would not have the opportunity to do so otherwise if it weren’t for the convenience and the accessibility that on-line learning has continued to provide and uphold.

References

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

Di Primia, D. (1969). Memoirs of a beatnik. New York, New York: Penguin Group.

Di Prima, D. (1999). “Rant.” In Waldman, A., (Ed.), The beat book. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Siemens, G. (2015) Adios ed tech. Hola something else. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/

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