Making my network work

I have a curious mind! I thirst for knowledge and generally pursue this relentlessly until I find suitable answers. One random thought will stay with me all day until I can find the time to do the necessary research to address it. I usually start my search at Google then proceed from there to look at websites, blogs or through books that have more information. My laptop, tablet or smart phone are usually never too far away as one of these are my tools to search the internet for new information.

Let’s take a look at my learning process for a few minutes. Let’s say for example, I’m a new employee and we have a vacancy at my office that must be filled. I’d first read through the policies related to recruitment then speak with my HR Manager to get further information. Once we have possible candidates it’s time to prepare for the interviews. A review of the job description and applicants’ resumes would now need to be done. As a newbie, I’ll need help with interview questions so I turn to blogs, websites, my HR RSS feeds and textbooks. After the interviews I speak with my manager to get some feedback on my performance. This is what Siemens (2006) calls a learning network. Siemens defines these as “structures that we create in order to stay current and continually acquire, experience, create, and connect new knowledge”. They also “exist within our minds in connecting and creating patterns of understanding”. Learning requires the connection of several nodes (information sources) in your learning network and knowledge may reside not only in humans but machine and is facilitated by technology (Siemens, 2006).

Over the years my learning network has certainly evolved. Years ago new information could only be acquired in the classroom, from family and friends or reading through tomes in my local library. As computers got cheaper and Internet became widely available in Jamaica my network slowly started to evolve. No longer was I dependent solely on what I learned in a classroom, I could now feed my almost insatiable need for knowledge through websites and other online resources. Back in the early days Yahoo’s directory search was my first point of reference, I could find almost anything there. Now my go to is Google. As my career took me in several directions my network evolved even more. From year to year the resources I relied on would change and so too would the knowledge I needed.

Connnectivism suggests that learning is done in a networked environment. Davis, Edmunds, and Kelly-Bateman (2012) further notes that learning and knowledge “rests in diversity of opinions”. The theory speaks nothing of the construction of knowledge nor does it specifically address the role of experience in learning. I agree that I do learn through my vast network of people, technology and resources. However, the information I gain through this network is usually assessed and not necessarily taken wholesale and as facts. I usually take care to review several resources and compare, contrast and evaluate information to determine what should be included in my new knowledge base on my experience and the experience of others. Given this I believe that connectivism does not completely explain how I learn. I learn best through a combination of constructivism, connectivism and adult learning.

References

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2012, January 26). Connectivisim. Retrieved from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology: http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Connectivism

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Lulu.com.

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