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Well I’ve managed to get myself caught up with EDC3100 activities, am in reasonable shape for completing my 1st assignment and have finished the activities for week 4! During Week 4’s activities we were asked to reflect on how people think and learn and in particular we were asked to think about the connections made through the learning process. I found this interesting and particularly in relation to 21st century learning.
Previously when we have thought about learning we have thought of hierarchical systems where one thought leads to the next and so on but it is increasingly becoming apparent that that is not necessarily accurate. When we think and learn about things we use previous understandings to make sense of new ones that is true, but what is interesting to consider is that these understandings have not just come from one source. They may have in fact come from a number of previously different thoughts that when considered together give use a new understanding. For example lets think about how we know a horse is a horse and not something else altogether. Firstly we know that a horse has four legs. A chair (not related to a horse much at all) also has four legs but we know it is not a chair because we already know about chairs and that they are not living so a horse is not a chair. A horse is a big animal so it is not a cat or a dog. If you follow where I am heading you can see how all of the connections we have made about different things in our environment, related to horses or not, help inform us more about what a horse is. We transfer previous understanding about a lot of different experiences to forming this new understanding. That is because we have created a network of connections and not just a line of connected dots.
When you look at how the brain is formed it is quite striking to see how similar it is to such networks. Is there a design principle at work here? Do we think and learn the same way our brain functions and grows? It would seem to make sense that we do but it will take more research to show if this is the case and if so how it may effect learning and education. This theory is not necessarily new though. It actually looks a bit like a Constructivist approach to learning. Gros (2002) draws our attention back to constructivist theories and how this may relate to ICTs and their use in learning. Constructivist learning encourages collaboration and problem solving which are prevalent skills used when ICTs are effectively integrated into learning environments and experiences.
Check out the video below, Manuel Lima’s The Power of Networks, to get an insight into how we make connections through networks of information and how it may change the way we view learning and many other aspects of life.
Gros, B. (2002). Knowledge construction and technology. Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 11(4) 323-343. Retrieved from http://www.jcu.edu/education/dshutkin/ed587/ID_constructivism.pdf.