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Reflection

The eighth principle of Connectivism

This principle is about decision-making is itself a learning process. Siemens (2005) stated in his book;

 “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. “

In todays world, information is being released, analysed, updated and created all the time. Because the way information changes happen frequently, learners need to try keep up-to-date and become more critical in analysing and using information. Utecht (2019) stated that in this era, deciding who to learn from, who can be trusted and why a source can be trusted are important questions one must always ask. I think that being able to make decisions about the sources of information is itself a learning task.

For example, a learner may look up on the internet for the information needed to complete his school task. There are many databases available on the internet; data can be accessed by browsing to news portal, online encyclopaedias, articles and journals, e-books and even discussion board or social medias. Due to the large number of repository available online, it is vital for a learner to evaluate which source of information is credible and relevant. While looking at all these data available, the learner must decide from which source he want to use. That decision-making process is in itself a learning process. So, by making the decision to use a particular source of information, how would the learner evaluate whether that source is relevant or valid? Collaboration with peers as they checked and assessed one another can be a method to check the validity of the information collected.    

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Reflection

The sixth principle of Connectivism

Siemens (2005) stated that one of the principles in connectivism is the ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill. As learners started to build upon on each idea, it is essential for the learners to look through with new perspectives and see the connections between fields and ideas. Based on this principle, learners are expected to become more active participants in their learning. By making sense of the numerous connections, learners will need to learn to see the bigger picture or context and that may allow them to create new knowledge.  

For example, a science teacher is giving lecture at the front in the computer lab. One of the learner interrupt his lecture and correct him based on the new information the learner gotten from some searches on the internet. Even though one may think that the teacher would be angry as the learner seems like trying to discredit his lecture, in fact the teacher is okay with it as this shows that the learner is paying attention and use the access that is available to him to re-check the fact and get the up-to-date knowledge. This shows that the learner managed to see the connections between the teacher and the information on the internet and become and active learner instead of being passive and hanging on the teacher’s every word.

I think it is important for the learners nowadays to gain the ability to seek and making connections on the things that they want to learn. Long gone is the time where teacher is the sole provider of knowledge and everything is spoon-fed to the learners. Learners need to become more active in learning and teachers could help by providing guidance and act as a facilitator. Technology is there to stay and whether you want it or not, learning will go in parallel of the improvement of technology. But one needs to remember, it’s not about the technology and but more on how we as the users learn to use, integrate, and adapt to the ever-changing development of the technology.

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Reflection

The fourth principle of Connectivism

The fourth principle of connectivism, as proposed by Siemens (2005), is the capacity to know is more critical than what is currently known. In this principle, the idea is not about knowing more of what one already knows, but instead using the information available to think critically about what they know and why they think they know it. Having more knowledge is no longer enough; we need the skills to acquire, analyze, and validate the information that we have.

 Currently, gaining information or knowledge is just at the tip of the learners’ finger. When a teacher asks their students to go and look for information on climate in Malaysia, as an example, students may just turn to the internet, look up the climate in Malaysia in Google Search, and present the data as is to the teacher and the classroom. The internet is a treasure trove of data and information. However, one still needs the skills to look for the right information, critically analyze it and the source, and validate the data. Not all data and information gotten from the internet is valid and reliable. Thus, I think that it is vital for learners to learn how to conduct proper research online, from getting data from reputable sources and on how to analyze and validate their findings.  

For example, the teacher could get the learners to look for information from books and articles first and then to search for supporting data or information from the internet, as a supplement to sources such as books. This could help to lessen the over-reliance of unverifiable details from the internet. Besides that, the teacher could teach the learners on how to do an internet search effectively, such as using the Boolean operator and learn to use command such “site:” so that information can be collected from reputable sites. In the rapid development of information and technology nowadays, learners need to learn and unlearn effectively as things that they know today may become obsolete and no longer reliable tomorrow.

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Reflection

Community of practice

Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger proposed the community of practice as a group of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. The characteristics of CoP can be divided into three, which are domain, community and practice. The domain represents area of shared interests or common ground between its members. The community creates the social aspect of learning. A strong community fosters interaction and encourages a willingness to share ideas. The practice represents the specific focus around which the community develops.

There are differences between a common community of interest and community of practice. In a community of interest groups, members are not necessarily experts or practitioners of the topic around the interest. For example, a Facebook group consisting of those who like gardening can just be a community of interest as they share a common hobby and not particularly having members who are expert botanists. A community of practice, in contrast, is a group of people who are active practitioners.

If it’s in the usual way, I would try to reflect and propose some suggestions on how to implement the learning theories in a classroom setting. But I find it a bit hard to link CoP into regular learning in the classroom. As learners in the classroom are not subject-matter specialists or practitioners of the same area of interest. Nevertheless, I will try to relate this to the teaching profession. With the development of technology and increasing interest in social media apps, teachers have found ways to build their community as a place to share knowledge and trade opinions and insight. There are many groups in Telegram app that cater to almost every subject available and acts as a basis of community of practice. For example, for English language teachers, the Telegram group “teacherfira.com group” has quite a large number of teachers in it. As of now, this group has more than 39,000 teachers sharing teaching materials and provide help to one another. I think that this group fits the three characteristics of CoP as all the teachers share the same domain or area of interest, a strong community that interacts and helps each other on matters such as lesson planning or teaching materials and the practice that represent the specific focus of the group, which is a platform to share materials or idea on teaching the English Language.    

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Reflection

The third principle of connectivism

Siemens (2015) stated that one of the principles of connectivism is that learning may reside in non-human appliances. We may think that learning is something that is specially catered to us humans in specific or living things in general. With the emergence and the rapid development of technology, we can learn not only from a human teacher, but also from technological devices. Learners may no longer need a human touch in learning as technological devices can help learners to learn on their own. Nevertheless, I think that a human touch in learning is still important as humans are social creatures and although some may want to learn on their own, having a teacher is still essential to guide us along the way.

How to implement the third principle of connectivism in learning? My thesis during undergraduate was on Computer Assisted Language Learning, or to be more specific, on how word processor can help in improving learners’ writing skills. Back then, I never knew the existence of connectivism but if I were to relate it now, using a word processor such as MS Word is an example of learning may reside in non-human appliances. As most of us, if not all, have experience in using MS Word, we know that when we are typing, the program may underline some words or phrases in red or blue. Signifying that there may be some errors in the writing. A wrong spelling word such as thees will be underlined red as to let the user know that there is an error there. In a way, the program helps us to proofread our writing thus minimizing the common mistakes that we may done.

Another example that I can relate to is using Google Doc. Google Doc has the function of Voice Typing, where the AI built-in will try to analyze the audio and put it into written form. How can this affect learners? This feature provides the freedom to a learner that is physically challenged and allows them to involve with the act of writing.

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Reflection

Current thought on situated learning

Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger first proposed situated learning as a model of learning in a community of practice. Situated learning theory can be defined as learning that takes place in the same context in which it is applied. Lave and Wenger emphasize that novices begin learning by observing members of the community and then slowly move from the periphery of the community to fully participating members. William Rankin proposed four major elements in situated learning which are; (i) content, (ii) context, (iii) community, and (iv) participation.

I noticed that at the heart of it, situated learning theory shares some similarities with the cognitive apprenticeship theory. Both theories emphasize that learners learn by observing more proficient members in the trade and learning happens in the same workplace it applied. This is supported by Siti Norainna (2018) that stated knowledge should be delivered in an authentic context and beginners should be involved in authentic settings of daily practices.

As an example of situated learning in a classroom, I would like to suggest the use of role-play in learning. For example, the topic I want to teach is on the occupation. Learners are divided into groups and each group will need to find information on a certain occupation. Each member of the group can look for information in different sources such as books, internet articles, or interviewing people with the occupation. They then need to compile their information and later each group will come out with a role-play of the occupation the had found. In the end, learners will role-playing their occupation to the other groups.   

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Reflection

The second principle of Connectivism

The second principle of Connectivism is learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. In the connectivism model, a learning community is described as a node, which is always part of a larger network. Nodes arise out of the connection points that are found on a network. Nodes may also be organizations, libraries, web sites, journals, databases or any other sources of information (Gerard and Goldie, 2016). At current times, it is important to have the ability to connect information sources to get a new or more complete view on any given subject. I like to give an example on this, let say Learner A wants to learn about the basic of coding. After reading some books on this matter, he managed to gain some small understanding of coding. He looked on the internet and found a discussion board on DIY project on coding. There, he learned that he can apply what he had learned into a mini project of his own. Eventually, he created a mini-game app based on what he has learned from books and feedback from the users on the discussion board. Thus, he had a much clearer view of the matter he had learned and found ways to apply his knowledge in real life.

The second principle of connectivism can be applied to a real classroom situation. For example, the topic I want to teach is about “Malaysia Independence Day”. I want the learners to know about the process our forefathers went through to gain independence for our country, notable people related, and real-life experience of life before and after independence. For this project, the learners will be divided into groups. Each group will receive different tasks from different sources. For example, one group needs to find information about the process to gain independence from the internet while another group will collect information on life before independence by doing interviews with those who lived in that era. In the end, the learners will share information with each other to get a complete view of how our country gain its independence. Thus, learners learn to connect specialized information sources to a new set of knowledge.    

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Reflection

Learning community

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Reflection

Thought on cognitive apprenticeship

A teenager wants to learn on how to make table and chair. He apprenticed himself to a master carpenter to learn about the trade. In the workshop, the master carpenter taught the teenager the how-to in furniture making and over the time, the teenager managed to learn how to make table and chair.

The scenario above is a simple example of an apprenticeship. In 1987, Brown, Collins and Newman developed the cognitive apprenticeship model. Brown et al (1989) stated that cognitive apprenticeship supports learning in a domain by enabling students to acquire, develop, and use cognitive tools in authentic domain activity. Thus, not only learning uses a real-world context, it also allows learners to witness how the master or practitioner solves problem and ways to handle task.

Brown et al developed six teaching methods under cognitive apprenticeship: modelling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection and exploration.

1. Modeling — the teacher or expert models or demonstrates the desired knowledge and skill for the learner; this is typically necessary with new learners in a domain and can be repeated at various learning stages.

2. Coaching — the teacher or expert observes a learner’s performance, and provides feedback aimed at helping the learning improve and become aware of specific aspects requiring improvement.

3. Scaffolding — the designer or instructor deploys various support mechanisms for learners; these typically become less explicit and less supportive as learners gain competence and confidence.

4. Articulation — the teacher encourages a student to talk about what he or she is doing or knows with regard to a particular task; this can occur at many points in an instructional sequence.

5. Reflection — a teacher encourages a student to compare his or her response to a problem situation with that of an expert or possibly with that of another student as a way to draw attention to differences for purposes of developing understanding and insight.

6. Exploration — a teacher provides students with opportunities to explore new problems and perhaps different types of problems requiring alternative problem-solving strategies.

Based on my understanding of cognitive apprenticeship, I can see some of the aspects of CA being applied in the classroom setting. Let us look at the teaching methods as proposed by Brown et al (1989). Modelling is not a novelty idea in teaching and learning in the classroom. For example, if I want the learners to improve on their speaking skills, I as a teacher need to show an example by using the language. In the coaching stage, I will provide feedback on their progress and help to improve on the technical aspect such as grammar and sentence building. Support activities such as pair work to practice speaking can provide scaffolding and acts as a platform to articulate their skills. Learners are then encouraged to continuously reflect on their progress as to promote and solidify their understanding. Under exploration, I can provide opportunities to the learners to further improve their skills such as by participating in speaker’s corner or public speaking.  

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Reflection

On connectivism

The growth of technology has spiked in the last few decades. In current time, technology has changed the way we live, communicate and learn. Siemens (2004) stated that some of the significant trends that happened in learning such as informal learning are a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways—through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.

In 2005, Siemens proposed a new learning theory called connectivism, to address the limitations of the older theory such as behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Siemens (2004) stated that most learning theories revolved on learning occur in a person. These theories do not address learning that happens outside of a person i.e. Learning that is stored and manipulated by technology. In connectivism, the starting point for learning occurs when knowledge is actuated through the process of a learner connecting to and feeding information into a learning community. In the connectivism model, a learning community is described as a node, which is always part of a larger network. Nodes arise out of the connection points that are found on a network. Nodes may also be organizations, libraries, web sites, journals, databases, or any other sources of information (Gerard and Goldie, 2016).

Currently, there is still a debate regarding the position of connectivism as a learning theory. Nevertheless, I feel that there are some points in connectivism that can be inferred and practiced in a classroom. Learners are provided the opportunities to make choices about their learning. There are many nodes available and with the help of technology nowadays, learners have more options in collecting knowledge. For example, discussion board and wiki can be the platform to promote collaborative work and exchanging ideas and knowledge. Learners no longer confined within the boundary of the classroom but can make connections with multiple nodes around the world. One of the principles of connectivism is the capacity to know is more critical than what is currently known. I think that this principle is quite applicable in the current world’s situation. As time progressed, new knowledge emerged and what we learn today may become obsolete in 10 or 20 years later. So, I think that it is important for learners to know how to learn and relearn to keep up to date with the ever-progressing information.