Socialisation as information objects – the totem pole

As part of my studies in Instructional Design with the University of Manitoba, I have been asked to reflect on George Siemen’s blog article entitled Socialization as information objects and comment on the views of the model discussed.  This is part 2 of my reflections.

After reading George’s articles, I can see how his learner-centred approach can produce far more effective learning outcomes for students.  The students are pursuing what they perceive as important to them.  An important aspect, particularly of adult learners is for the learning to have purpose/meaning/relevancy.  If a learner can see why what they are learning is important, they are more likely to engage.  In this type of design, the learners decide to learn what is most relevant to them, and can focus their efforts to this end.

Rachel has made the following comments on the class forum: “I think the real problem with learners deciding outcomes is the assessment issue. There is a need to know who is competent to do something and how is that going to be measured except through some kind of testing against predetermined objectives?”

While I agree with Rachel, taking a broader view I see the weakness in terms of when it is applied to current (and past) western attitudes and culture.  Formal education seeks to evaluate and rank learners quantitatively according to their achievements as one criteria for employers to use to recuit their workforce.  A totem pole if you will with the elite at the top.  Skills and attributes that employers are looking for and how learners measure up to this criteria is a critical aspect of evaluating potential employees.  As such, what employers see as important versus what learners see as important may not always align.  Or at the very least, what learners perceive as important may not align with employers.  This is where learning outcomes/objectives inform learning designs.  The behaviourist heritage – what behaviours do employers seek in their employees. Returning to Rachel’s comments, its not just about how competency is measured, but what competencies according to requirements of the established disciplines.

George made the following comment regarding learner control.

Learner control is not without frustration for the instructor. I recall feeling a bit frustrated that the concept of connectivism that I was trying to communicate – the neural, conceptual, and social/external dimensions of networked learning (expressed in this presentation)- was not resonating with participants.  As many theorists in education have stated, what’s important for learning is not what the educator has to share, but the current state of knowledge and interest of the learner. My attempt to move the conversation in one direction was not successful in this instance because participants were not interested in engaging in the concepts I presented. End result: learners took the course in directions that reflected their needs and interests. Not the instructors.

Jenny Mackness highlights the issues around accreditation and the need for a tutor to assess their work.  So what if we were to change the topic of the learning to a course around financial auditing.  The established standards around auditing dictate what is expected of a professional, and learning outcomes for formal education reflect this (or at least should 🙂 ).  It would not be acceptable to the financial auditing establishment for a learner to decide that they were not interested in the procedures of xyz and therefore not engage with it.  Perhaps a contrived example, and I’m not a financial professional, but I hope this makes sense.

An extract from the quote above:  “what’s important for learning is not what the educator has to share, but the current state of knowledge and interest of the learner.”

I guess it depends on what the educator has to share, and its relevance to established expectations for the field of study.  Perhaps that is articulated through the current state of knowledge.


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