A difference between two teachers is a very stimulating challenge for the learner. Stephen disagrees with George about the contiguity of the neuro networks in our minds with the networks of people/ ideas/ things in the external world:
“We form these patterns of connectivity with neuro networks in our mind, and we call that “thinking”, and we form these patterns of connectivity between people, between ideas, between things in the real world (maybe I should say, in “the external world” […]
I in my various writings have depicted this as two seperate things, with points of relation between them. George, I think, sometimes depicts it as one and the same thing. The expression, for example, “the outboard brain”, suggests continuity between the network that exists out there in the world, and the network that exists in one’s head. I see these as quite a bit more separate. The knowledge that is had by a society through its connections of individuals, ideas, etc., is distinct from, and not contiguous with, the knowledge that is had by a person in their mind.” (0:12:00)
I have not questioned this contiguity before. Neuro level, conceptual level, personal person-to-person level — all is joined by the common metaphor that is central of connectivism. Although I know that there is no such thing as a “grandmother neuron” where one’s concept of granny resides, the internal, networked, representation of concepts fits so nicely to the external world phenomena represented here, and in turn, the interest of individual internet contacts in certain concepts, links these concepts nicely to the persons, e. g. via blog posts and comments.
If viewing the similarities as sloppily as I did, also the expression of the “outboard brain” makes perfect sense: I have been fascinated previously how well visual applications can extend one’s internal “visuo-spatial sketchpad”. So, the concepts in one’s mind contiguously extend to icons on a computer canvas, and the contiguity is complete.
If, however, one is considering the philosophical aspects of the true difference between the internal concepts and their external, real-world counterparts, all this is much more complex, and it reminds me of the medieval Nominalism dispute in that I have not yet afforded the patience required to deal with such thorough distinctions.
I am sorry about the lost contiguity between neural, conceptual, and personal person-to-person level for another reason. Discussions about connectivism seem to diverge and break into two parts: One focussing on the complexity of the internal/ neural level, and the other one focussing on the personal/ external level (which is often misunderstood and simplified down to the idea that you don’t need to know anything once you know the “pipes” connecting to persons or resources who know. The reception of connectivism in the German scholarly literature, for example, seems to completely restrict to this upper level.)
In these divergent focuses, the intermediate, conceptual level, is mostly neglected. And I think this is a great loss.