Friday, November 23, 2007

Connectivism in Educational Leadership

George Siemens asserts that connectivism is beyond learners creating"knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences". It is rather deriving "our competence from forming connections . . . other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge."

How does this translate for 21st Century teachers, particularly international teachers, who must provide instruction to children from cultures they've never experienced? How do they form their competence in instruction when working with children who are third-culture? How to instruct a multitude of teachers from a multitude of backgrounds instructing this multitude of diversity?

Siemens lists a few principles of connectivisms to help:

Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.

Each educator has a significant contribution to make in both small and large groups. A strong educational leaders facilitates even and unbiased dialog without merely favoring the squeaky wheel.

Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
Technology should be embedded into staff gatherings. An internet-ready computer with projector is but a staple for teacher collaboration and learning.

Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

I dare you to have a virtual staff meeting - in an online community. What happens when a group of educators have a quarterly meeting in Second life and learn from other educators around the world in the process? Might that carry into classroom instruction and innovate ways of finding knowledge wherever it is available?
Why shouldn't educational leaders strive to make meetings fun and engaging? It's not only k-12 students who need to construct their own learning.

Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
Most stagnating phrase: "We've always done it this way". Once we know it all, we fail to know what we don't know.

Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
As Barbara Striesand sang so beautifully: "People. People who need people . . . are the luckiest people in the world. . . "

Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
Wow. Connect the digital age to Bloom's taxonomy. Then interpret that for adults constantly learning best practices.
Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities. . . . and knowledge is constantly shifting. Especially when one considers learning about learning.

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.

New intiatives should be weighed heavily, and seldom undertaken at the cost of meaningful professional learning communities.

A very important part of connectivism is permitting the time to connect to others. Whether in digital space or real time, educational leaders must facilitate the dialog about teaching and learning. This allows educators to derive their competence from the confidence that they are doing what is best for children.

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