Saturday, October 4, 2008

CCK08: When connectivism doesn't work

I have been thinking all week about connectivisim, and acknowledge that my online network plays a huge part in my learning these days. However, I am also conscious that there are a lot of people who do not want to engage with the concept for whatever reason.

Pre-conditions required for networked learning
Shelly Q has done a great job of summarizing some of the pre-conditions that need to exist before networked learning can flourish including a willingness to trust the other nodes of the network, willingness to fail as well as admit when you are wrong.

When people cannot network
I have gone a step or two further and would like to ask how learning can be supported in environments where networking, especially online networking, just will not be allowed. In particular, I am thinking about the prison environment.

Learning in prisons
There is a desperate need for education to be provided to prisoners because so many of them have only very basic literacy skills. And certainly that appears to be a focus in New Zealand prisons. But how would you use connectivist principles to support education in an environment where people are not allowed access to the Internet and are actively discouraged from networking. And how would you 'teach' if you could not access the tools that connectivism relies on such as email, Skype, YouTube and so on.

Any ideas?

Images: Alcatraz, San Fransisco


arieliomdotcom said...

Hello, Sarah

It feels a little odd responding to your post because it is dated Saturday, 4 October and it is still Friday, 3 October here in the United States. I don't think I ever typed on tomorrow before! I've heard of speed typing but this is ridiculous! :)

I just wanted to mention that your issue about those who can't network is no different than my Ethics of Networks thread on the Moodle and several others that grew out of it. So if you don't get a ok of responses you might want to check there Greetings from yesterday! :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello, arieliomdotcom, yes, that time difference is weird.

Thanks for the reference to the Moddle discussion. I must admit I had given up looking at it and am just concentrating on reading blogs, so consequently, I've missed the discussion. Thanks.

Leigh Blackall said...

I guess you've forgotten about our face to face the other day? When you asked this same question then, I remember suggesting a mediator. Your issue has a lot to do with the digital divide to which I also think mediators could do more.

A mediator in a prison environment might set up a local media centre that has a local radio station (just for the prison) a news paper, an intranet.. that mediator/s have access to the www, and bring content in to the local - broadcasting podcasts through the radio, printing articles to the news paper, and posting videos to the intranet etc etc. Those same mediators also help the people in the prison to produce their own media that where appropriate can be taken out of the prison and published to the www.

The mediator bridges the digital divide. The same can be done in communities with no Internet.

Mr. Whyte said...

I personally feel technology is a enabler of network learning, to help achieve the global diversity needed. However it is not entirely necessary. I have a network within my workplace that functions very similarly to my online networks. I am still using connectivism, its just that technology allows my networks to spread far and wide.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Leigh No, I hadn't forgotten what you said the other day-far from it. I think it's a fabulous idea. I also wanted to see what others thought.

@Mr Whyte I am not sure how much 'networking' or connecting prisoners would be allowed to do. A complex situation. And very challenging for those who worked there providing education to prisoners.

Linda R said...

Hi Sarah, That was a big jump to ideas of connectivism and its relevance inprisons. Be curious to know what your connection is with the prison service.

Claire Thompson said...

Sarah, I wonder how secondary schools deal with this issue? At the distributed learning school where I work we sometimes get 'alternative' kids; students, usually with behaviour issues, who are not succeeding in a conventional classroom. When we've had students who have a history of harassing other students (on-line or otherwise) we offer them paper based courses only; they don't get to be enrolled in our on-line offerings. It sure cuts off a lot of opportunities for them and I have to wonder if there is a way to include them in networked learning while still protecting the other students?

Sarah Stewart said...

@Linda I know a number of people who work in prisons & the thought just came to me as I was working through this. Then I started thinking about some of the young, disadvantaged people I work with as a midwife - what we're talking about now would be way over their heads. They don't care about this - they are concentrating on making ends meet until the end of the week.

@Claire Yes, another interesting scenario. Lots of challenges, not just to one theory of learning but to education as a whole.

Leigh Blackall said...

Well, I see the idea of a mediator still works for people no matter the reason for their disconnection. It could be people in Africa or South America, people in prisons, or kids having trouble socialising.. the mediator can be their connection.

Sarah Stewart said...

Actually, thinking about it Leigh, that's what I am as a midwife -being a mediator and providing information. But what about the problem that the mediator may filter/censure and only provide access to information/knowledge that he/she thinks is appropriate - which of course, would be the case in prisons.

Leigh Blackall said...

Problem? well, only in as much as the person not being professional or trained, and that they were not fullfilling some expected and well understood standard of practice. Something like a code of practice, like what journalists are meant to follow.

Sarah Stewart said...

I don't want to go off on a tangent because prisons clearly are not my domain, but I was really interested to read a couple of posts about education initiatives in prisons in Europe: