Socialisation as information objects – what about diverse ways of learning

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 1 of my reflections.

George discusses two examples of courses that have shifted from object-centred sociality to socialisation as information objects – Noncourse and Connectivism & Connective Knowledge (CCK).  For CCK, George had included the following passage titled “The joys of friction, ambiguity, and wayfinding.”

From the beginning of the course, both Stephen and I emphasized that we were not playing traditional instructor roles. We were nodes within a larger network. Ambiguity, even confusion, was necessary. The acts of grappling with many different sources of information, of trying to determine what was important, of deciding which learners to interact with, and choosing which resources to read and comment on, were all fundamental to learning. Wayfinding and sensemaking are by products of the internal friction of choosing what to value and pursue. As instructors, we provided navigation options through the deluge of information and commentary, but we consistently emphasized that our voice and perspective should be enlarged by interacting with peers and through the formation of personal network (I addressed the formation views in narratives of coherence).

Emphasis was placed on the personal agency of learners, fostering learning networks that reduced the prominence of the instructors and sought to assist learners in forming learning networks that lasted beyond the duration of the course.

I am curious as to what the navigation options were.  Perhaps George, you could elaborate on that point?  How was this facilitated?  How many options were provided?  How deep did they go?  I understand the value of “… grappling with many different sources of information, of trying to determine what was important, of deciding which learners to interact with, and choosing which resources to read and comment on, were all fundamental to learning.”  The potential weakness in your learning design that I see relates to learning styles, and the ability of certain personality types to cope with such a lack of linearity, scaffolding or sequencing.  For those who have a preference for sensing and sequential learning styles, this type of approach to learning could be very intimidating, overwhelming and cause anxiety for the learner.  Therefore I would suggest considerable effort would be required in providing the appropriate support and guidance to see them achieve well with such a heavy reliance on intuition, and global thinking.  In a way, I can speak personally as I am a strong sequential/sensing learner. 🙂  George describes the instructor support provided:

Instructor led support was provided through a daily email newsletter summarizing important forum discussions, exemplary blog posts or podcasts, and related research. Live presentations were held three times weekly … Weekly online presentations by invited guests included the following prominent educators and learning theorists…

Was there evidence of problems as I have highlighted George?  Or does the sociality aspect of the course design provide the sequencing and bigger picture that is not provided by the instructor?  In other words, do learners guide one another just as effectively as an instructor might in a more traditional course design, bearing in mind the greater needs of the sequential/sensing learner?

Of course, as a life-long learning initiative, course designs such as these would be very beneficial to the sensing/sequential learners in developing their ability to use alternate learning styles, despite them not being a preference.  I believe the most effective learners can adapt well to the styles required for the learning situation.

I’ll be doing CCK in the future as part of my program of study.  I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

One thought on “Socialisation as information objects – what about diverse ways of learning

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  1. Hey Damien,
    As far as learning styles go wouldn’t you agree that they are on a continum? I know it would be difficult to change but not impossible and perhapse this change in style would make it even more of an important learning experience?
    Gillian (an intuitive and strongly global learner for disclosure :))

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