The social uses of our new media tools have been a big surprise, in part because the possibility of these uses wasn't implicit in the tools themselves…the use of social technology is much less determined by the tool itself. When we use a network, the most important asset we get is access to one another. We want to be connected to one another, one that our use of social media actually engages. Clay Shirkey
Understanding the theoretical underpinnings of social networks; communities of practice, connectivism, and personal learning networks, provides a foundation for social networking. It can help you use social networks strategically and with intention. It helps inform your actions so you can use networks for engaged, participatory learning.
Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Connectivism are united in that they are both models of 'learning that acknowledge the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity' (Siemens, 2004). The affordance of new technologies of the Web 2.0 era such as Blogs, Wikis and discussion boards are enabling learners to form their own connections or learning pathways (Siemens, 2005) thereby facilitating the critical factor of participation in CoPs.
Wenger's definition of 'Community' describes how an individual becomes a member after pursuing interest in a domain, 'members engage in joint activities and discussions' (Wenger, 1998). Siemens’ description of the starting point of Connectivism can be applied to the Coalescing and Active stages of CoP development, 'Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.' (Siemens, 2004) http://westonedes.blogspot.com/2005/12/connectivism-and-communities-of.html
The intent of this assignment is to assist you in developing a personalized and deep understanding of the concepts of this unit - the concepts that are core to using social networking as a learning venue. Based Marzano's research, this can be facilitated through creating nonlinguistical representations of concepts. Creating a "product" to represent your understanding of the concepts also addresses (1) that we have become producers as well as consumers in this age of social networking and Web 2.0; and (2) according to neuroscientist, John Medina, visuals are very powerful means for learning and understanding. So in order to express your understanding of Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks. Create one or a combination of the following to demonstrate your understanding of these concepts: a slide show or Glog of images, an audio cast of sounds, a video of sights, a series of hand drawn and scanned pictures, a mindmap of images, a mathematical formula, a periodic chart of concepts, or another form of nonlinguistic symbols. Your product should contain the major elements discussed in this module: CoPs, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks. These are connected yet different concepts. As such they should be portrayed as separate, yet connected elements. In other words, you should use at least one symbol per concept.
- What is a Professional Learning Community?
- Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age
- Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?
- Special Issue on social networking learning http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/issue/view/44
- Preparing K-12 Students for Connectivist Learning