What is needed for research?
I think the most urgent research need in Connectivism is not to gain still more insights but to develop a conceptual arsenal, or toolbox, for expressing and proving these findings.
As George mentioned already in his Mooloolaba presentation and today on Moodle, there is a lack of terms and language for the new ideas. We have an intuitive understanding about what is more connectivist or less connectivist when we think of concrete situations. But how would we substantiate and justify this?
If empirical evidence shall be established, there needs to be a robust, resilient set of concepts that can be applied when the study scenarios are to be designed. Not only the testing scenario that is favorable for connectivism needs to be constructed but also the adverse one for the control group. What type of concept networks are particularly adverse to connectivist learning? Perhaps those who, in some way, feature the involved nodes more that the involved edges. But how would a test arrangement be advised that obeys such criteria?
I think that such empirical evidence will be required, and I also think that connectivism is well armored to meet this challenge because its comprehensive, holistic understanding will empower the informed construction of valid testing scenarios. It can avoid hidden bias because it understands subtle, incremental effects and can easily detect and unmask potentially distorting conditions.
Next steps? Proving vs. doing?
I don’t believe that the theory should just be proven and subsequently deployed by decree. Instead, I think it will gradually and incrementally spread through network effects. But I think there are many actors that are influenced by the empirical blessing.
I think you can even observe it in the wider neighborhood of the course participants. There are many people with a benevolent interest and an intuitive sense that the theory might be right, but they hesitate to avow it, and fear the bullying of experts who scientifically decree that such and such phenomenon does not exist, due to some notorious “no significant difference” findings.
So what would be a good starting point? Jenny recommends “to focus on teacher and learner autonomy and connectivity in small steps” and I agree with her. Another aspect may be derived from our own experience in this course. I think that a favorable, special condition of CCK08 was that it was about a new theory and offered the fascination of being particularly close to the development and progress of the theory. This fascination was probably a motivation to climb steep hills. This might suggest that the easiest deployment is probably on the graduate levels, and that the spreading of success could then work its way downwards to the junior levels?
How to stay away from hype/ jargon/ buzzwords?
I think that too much emphasis on internet technologies could be misunderstood as a hype. And similarly, the emphasis on the theory may be dangerous.
My experience of the process?
In case I won’t have the time to describe the great experience in more detail. I want to at least mention the most striking point. I was surprised about myself how much I focussed on the given structural skeleton and pruned all serendipitious tangents that otherwise made blog-reading so pleasant. Under the extreme pressure of a year’s worth of great topics in 12 weeks, my capability to digest it much faster, was also extremely challenged.
What would need to change to make the experience more valuable?
Superficially one might want that some little obstacles or the time pressure were removed. But then again, the above experience might have been different and probably less extraordinary.
The most challenging little technical obstacles were associated with RSS which, unfortunately, is not yet so easy to deploy as one would wish. Particularly the OPML file and its updates caused problems for me. I solved them by making copies with the first line deleted, then comparing the old and the new one in MS Word, searching for the string of “xmlUrl” to identify the new feed addresses among the marked changes, and then pasted these Urls into my feed reader. Perhaps the updated section could be enclosed in outline tags to facilitate this detection process.
Do I feel this course approach could be applied to other subject areas?
This is hard to tell since, for me, a special fascination was just the subject itself, as noted above. If I had to learn some boring but necessary matter such as, say, medical Greek terminology, or legal issues in school districts, I would probably not afford the additional motivation for the extra effort of extra valuable learning.