Monday, February 05, 2007

In the middle of the night

Tonight I will set my alarm for 3.45 am and get up to sit at my computer. Why? you may ask. The reason is that I have agreed to be a “context filter” for the Online Connectivism Conference.
“Context filters serve the critical role of extending and interpreting the ideas of each presenter. Traditional conferences place the expertise "up on stage". In an online conference, everyone has the opportunity to be an expert from their own context.”
See here for a number of edubloggers writing about the conference. When I wake I will be hearing Will Richardson speak on the ways teachers must adapt to the changes that have become necessary in our schools: As the abstract for his presentation states
“the emphasis of our teaching must shift away from content to instead focus on helping students build their own networks of trusted sources through which they can find and evaluate relevant content on their own. But what does this shift mean for our own personal and professional practice? Can we guide our students to be independent, lifelong, connected learners without first building our own communities and trusted networks for learning? And how can we best model for our students the effective and ethical use of a connected world in our own lives?”

I’m really hoping that I will be able to wake in time. The conference started on Friday and I found that I missed most of the first session as I had not set my alarm properly. What I did experience showed me however that participants need to be on the ball as the chat that happens at the same time in response to the presentation (both voice and slide show on Elluminate) is an ongoing dialogue that goes about 100 miles an hour. It is really amazing to be seeing the thought processes of so many dynamic educators about such remarkable ideas.

In the conference there are forums on breaking old habits, using flickr in the classroom, challenges to the theory of connectivism and more, and wikis full of resources, for and by the 680 participants exploring the learning theory of connectivism. In George Siemens’ article of January 2005 he suggests that the principles of connectivism are:
  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. 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.
While the conference is at an unfortunate time for bloggers in the southern hemisphere (we are starting a new school year, and times that are during the day in the US and Canada just happen to be the middle of the night for us) the energy and enthusiasm are worth it. Best of all is the chance to discuss education and the necessary changes that have to happen. Whether or not you are involved in the conference, if you have thoughts about any of the ideas that are being discussed, join in, either on this blog or on some of the other blogs that are discussing it.


  1. Jo, I've agreed to be a filter too (a pretty pathetic one thus far) but the times for the live events are just too difficult for me to do. However, I do intend to "do my job" as the presentations are archived and respond asynchronously, which the web and "connectivism" allow me to do. Even Bill Kerr's session, who asked me to be a filter, is on too early for this household that needs its quota of sleep if it is to function civilly. Look forward to your take on things, Jo.

  2. I was lucky last Friday but I have to teach this week and will have to also work asynchronously like Graham.

    Graham -- You're never a pathetic anything!

    I look forward to hearing what you have to say, Jo!