Context in a Digital Learning Environment

I originally wrote about this in the context of a Digital Literacies (Searching the Internet Effectively) that I was pushing into an LMS for the first time. Prior to that, I didn’t bother using a real LMS, just pushed paper for assignments and gave people PowerPoints that had the links embedded in the text. Didn’t really need the LMS before (or after for that fact!).

In all senses, this issue still resonates with me – context, not content, is key. The moment that you learn something is almost as important as what you learned. I remember vividly what I was doing when something clicked – most of you will as well. It seems that most people make those associations between what they were doing and what they learned.

I feel like DS106 and CCK12 have the context hurdles managed in slightly different ways. DS106 seems to provide context using a local facilitator/teacher to help guide at first (maybe as a technical director?), but at some point, the power structure flips (as it did in the Dr. Oblivion/DS107 clash, as well as groups and communities form in CCK). Essentially the learners form their own context for their experiences, and maybe that’s the most important thing with these open courses is that they enable the learner to develop an understanding of how to provide their own context for what they’re learning. Both these  open, massive, online courses have a Tuckman’s stages of group development deal going on.

CCK12 – Week 3 – It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know.

I’ve only been peripherally involved in the fourth offering of Connectivism and Connective Knowledge – the course hasn’t evolved that much (at a cursory glance) and I must admit, the centralized discussion boards really helped with my engagement in the community. Of course, I don’t really know any of the participants, which is frankly my fault. So because I don’t know anyone, is there a sense of lost community with this offering of CCK? Perhaps. It certainly has a motivational effect on me – I’m not particularly motivated to read (or re-read) because I don’t think I have anything to add that I would’ve the last time (CCK08 Version of Networked Learning) – however through my experience with informal learning, you have to have good sources who are willing to ask good questions for this to work.

That process is very much trial and error, finding people seeing who they follow, following them for a while… all the pieces are based on networks and loose connections to each other. Howard Rheingold talks about this process, and the thing that strikes me about it is that it is entirely iterative, which is something I first came across in playing in bands. We’d write things, then build on them, then take them apart and re-work a different bit, always evolving, until the three or four of us feel it’s ready. Even then, it could mutate when played in front of an audience… The next time iterative development came through my life was in the process of software design. It’s interesting how much further iterative approaches have come in the last decade, and lets face it, an iterative approach makes sense in education.  The personal learning network (PLN, an acronym I don’t particularly like, mainly that I learn from everyone and everything, I shouldn’t have to make it explicit), is also iterative in how you feed it and how your network feeds you.