Tag Archives: konnektivisme

Om die vuur van belangstelling aan te vlam

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Ek is ‘n week of drie gelede gevra om my klasgee-filosofie te verwoord.  Hierso is dit (in my mooiste Engels):

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Personal teaching philosophy

I teach, because it is fun for me to do so. I enjoy facilitating discussion and seeing people grow in the complexities of and naunces in their thinking. It is a way for me to serve, maintain hope and create meaning through the work I do.

Teaching to me is more than the mere transferral of content matter; it is a critical engagement with knowledge and the community (and landscapes) of practice within which it is constructed and shared – and at its heart is a reciprocal, trusting relationship with those you teach and with those from whom you learn.

Apart from teaching the curriculum, it is important for me to develop students’ creative and critical reasoning skills, for them to challenge the status quo – and to keep their inherent interest and curiosity alive: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” (Socrates).

I recognise the responsibility of being a teacher and vow to practise my profession in an ethical manner. I believe in the scholarship of teaching and learning – in reflecting and improving on the strategies I employ to facilitate learning, and remaining active in the research field, as a lifelong learner.

I subscribe to constructivist and connectivist learning theories and believe in blended learning, catering for personal differences of students in terms of their diverse backgrounds, personal experiences, multiple intelligences and preferred learning styles.

I want to challenge and surprise (even frustrate) the students I teach; make them feel and think; inspire them to act; make them laugh, and be confident.

Sharing in their lives, their thoughts and fears, joys and sorrows is my reward.

As teaching remains a challenge I will be open to criticism and welcome new ideas.

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Wat sou jy toevoeg? Waarvan verskil jy?

In die era van Facebook, sal jy jou oud-onderwysers opsoek?

Die pa wys na my en sê: “Kyk die snaakse oom! Kyk, hy is ook bang vir die water.”

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Ek dink om ‘n goeie onderwyser te wees, moet jy kan connect met ‘n kind op sy/haar vlak.

So stap ek nog op die strand, moeg en warm van balgooi vir ‘n paaltjiewagterknaap, verby ‘n pa met ‘n peuter wat skree.  Hy probeer sy bes.  Paai sy dogtertjie wat om die dood toe nie met haar voete aan die watermassa wil raak nie.

Laat los hy; laat spaander sy: hulle mossel aan mekaar vas.

Ek kyk en besluit hier moet ek help!

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Stadig sluipvoet ek oordrewe nader aan die terugtrekkende brander, sodat sy nie anders kan as om na my te kyk nie.

Nes die volgende brandertjie beginne breek, draai ek beangs om en hardloop met slow motion trekke op my gesig wég van die dreigende gevaar!

Die dogtertjie lag!

Ek frons en loer wantrouig die brander agterna.  Sy kyk hom ook, stip.

Soos die skuimerige waterslym slu terugtrek, mimiekvoet ek wéér sluip-sluip agterna, nuuskierig…

Maar die oomblik toe die volgende spoegbrander breek, rukbewe ek, vries verskrik botstil – en draai weer volspoed bitterstadig om, met hoë knieë en bang treë stadig volspoed sagtesand se kant toe.  Sjoe!

Die dogtertjie skater!

Reg, ek het geconnect.  Nou vir die les.

Ek frommel my gesig in ‘n duisend plooie.  Asem ‘n mond vol Wolraad Woltemade in.  Stap met reghoekige elmboë swaaiend bo my ken.  Dawerend die noodlot trompop tegemoet!  Basta met bangwees!

Dapper kyk sy agterna hoe ek dapper haar vrees invaar, en klou dapper aan haar dapper pappa se hand.

Haar pa hou sy asem op.

Sy kyk my na.

Selfs omstanders staan stil.

En soos die witskuim rol, draai ek amper-amper om – ek weet sy weet ek wil weg, maar ek weet sy weet ek moet in – en wrik waagmoedig terug.  (Pot)sierlik – net-net vroegbetyds enkelhoog op SPRING ek – met ‘n glimlag breed soos dié van ‘n nar – …en land pabloems! in die water, mond waterwyd oop!

Sy is verstom!

En tóé begin ek dáns soos ‘n watermakranka en spat-spot rond-en-grond in die water.  Haai, haai, joegaai!  Luidrugtig gaan ek tekere sonder om ‘n klank te maak. 

Sy is oorstelp!  In haar -g-a-n-s-e- lewe het sy nog nooit so iets gesien nie.  Maar die punt is, sy glo die leuen.  Sy glo die les.  Van oor-tot-oor glo sy my.  As hierdie snaakse omie kan…

Ek glimlag breed en groet gul, sonder ‘n woord.

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En ná ‘n paar treë se aanstap, netmooi ver genoeg dat ek weet hulle my nie meer sou nástaar nie, loerkyk ek vir ‘n oomblik om:

Die krulletjieskopkind los haar pa se hand…  beur braaf-braaf branders toe… en spring pabloems! die bangmaakwater plat!

Pappa voel-soek in sy sakke, kry sy selfoon en neem ‘n klinkklare kiekie van sy klein waternimf: hoe sy verspot, met hoë harlekynknieë, in die water dans!

Hy skud sy kop.

Sy lag.

En ek stap rustig aan.

Closing the student learning loop (after an IR conference in PE)

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I have just returned from the annual Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) conference.  It was held in The Friendly – as well as The Windy – City of Port Elizabeth, at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) campus.

As conferences go, it followed the typical pattern: a keynote speaker opening the day, followed by speakers from different institutions (universities) delivering papers on their recent research findings, followed by tea, more speakers, lunch, some more speakers, tea, and an evening excursion, (Monday evening a boat ride in the harbour; yesterday a game drive in the Kragga Kamma Game park), followed by dinners.

The theme of the conference was Closing the Loop.

Even as a novice in the field I really enjoyed the variety of topics ranging from closing the quality assurance loops (departmental evaluations and programme reviews) to measuring graduate employability as an indicator of institutional effectiveness.

Yeah, I know – it might sound a bit boring, but you really do get insight into the Southern African Higher Education sector if a representative from Umalusi presents A comparative evaluation of the Senior Certificate curricula.  I especially enjoyed my colleague, dr Gert Steyn’s presentation on Measuring student participation in higher education with special repeference to South Africa.  (I will put the links in when the powerpoints are uploaded to the SAAIR website.)

What was most interesting to me was that, at the end of the conference when the keynote speakers and chair led a panel discussion, they came to the conclusion that institutional research (IR) actually cuts across the borders of institutions and could indeed in a sense be referred to as connectivity research.

This made me think.  Since recently becoming aware of a learning theory called connectivism, I now like the idea of connectivity and creating connections/promoting lateral thinking.  It provides a construct for the way in which we learn: through neuron connections we create/construct within our brains.  It also provides us with a construct for the way in which we should teach/act as knowledge partners.

Thinking of IR divisions at universities which convert knowledge (raw data e.g. student enrolment figures) into meaningful information (business intelligence) to inform action (insight for decision-making)… made me realise that IR personnel are in fact teachers who need to strategically facilitate learning to all managers and decision-makers at universities (academic and administrative colleagues).

Connectivism therefore, I think, may provide a useful paradigm for assessing the effectiveness of the business intelligence reports we produce.

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According to constructivist and connectivist learning theories, lecture formats (such as the way in which the papers were presented) are not the most effective teaching methods for promoting student learning.  If you go to a conference, sit passively and dose off every second powerpoint slide, you will be none the wiser afterwards. Students (conference goers) need to talk too, share ideas, integrate diverse opinions and reflect on the learning that takes place. 

For me this happened in the evenings when we debriefed in our guest house and chatted informally over coffee, tea and a decanter filled with sherry.  I really only learned something – or realised what I had learnt – after a couple of sherries with our American guests, Rick and Alice Voorhees of the Voorhees Group.  (Read his blog at http://voorheesgroup.org/wordpress/)

And according to constructivist and connectivist learning theories one needs to reflect about one’s learning for learning to truly take place.

Thus, by writing this blog, I am closing my IR learning loop (…or maybe rather, swinging my learning lasso).

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Connectivism also explains the mistakes we make: the connections we incorrectly create between unrelated matters.  Haha, that may just be the case with this post!  Do you think IR and learning theories are in any way connected?

Om die lande van Afrika weg te gooi

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africa-mapNou die dag gooi ek amper ‘n pamflet weg waarop ‘n uitgewersmaatskappy ‘n kaart van Afrika het.  (Op die kaart is hulle logo oral waar hulle ‘n verspreidingstak het; amper in elke Afrikaland).  Sommer ‘n simpel pamflet.

Met die dromflap oop bekyk ek vlugtig my kontinent en wáár elke Afrikaland lê:  Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso.

Vreemd, dink ek, dat Aardrykskunde op skool atlyd vir my so ‘n onbenullige vak was.  Ek moes met moeite memoriseer dat hulle in die Vrystaat met mielies boer – ‘n feit wat vir ‘n stadskind in die Kaap nie veel beteken nie.

En daar waar ek toe staan, vooroorgebuk – gereed om Afrika weg te gooi – vang die nuuskierigheid my opeens: ek wil wéét waar elke land van Afrika is.

Ek hou die pamflet; gooi ander goed weg en besluit om die kaart te probeer memoriseer.

Die kaart laat dink my aan ‘n Aardrykskunde-eksamenvraag: tipies sou jy genommerde lande moes identifiseer. En die laerskoolonderwyser sou jou waarsku dat jy die kaart op bladsy 57 moet leer vir die toets.

Hmf.  Om te memoriseer is nie meer maklik nie.

Ek lees die rondom-die-Sahara lande se name, bekyk die grense en probeer dan die name herroep sonder om te kroek.  Ek herhaal die proses, tel later die dag weer die pamflet op en besef dat ek eintlik net my korttermyngeheue gebruik…

En toe tref dit my: ek is ‘n totale idiot.

Ek is só gekondisioneer om Aardrykskunde te memoriseer soos vir ‘n eksamenvraag, dat ek nie besig was om enigiets te leer nie.  Want om al die lande tydelik te kan uitken, leer my niks méér van enige van die Afrikalande nie.  Ek verwyl my tyd met ‘n sinlose memory game en nie met ‘n heelbrein leerervaring nie.

Ek onderrig myself verkeerd.

Hoe leer ‘n mens?  Ek wéét mos.  Ek wéét hoe leer werk:  Jy moet neuronverbindings skep; jy moet ‘n netwerk van kennis voortbou op bestaande kennis; jy moet jou meervoudige intelligensies inspan.

In plaas daarvan om die hele kaart deur te lees sodat ek dit ná ‘n ruk foutloos kan herroep, moet ek eerder land-vir-land ‘n bietjie gaan oplees op Wikipedia.  Síén hoe lyk die land se mense, wat hulle issues is, wat elke land uniek maak; eie assosiasies vorm met die nuwe kennis, sodat Togo nie net ‘n naam op ‘n kaart vir my is wat ek soms aan verkeerde grense koppel nie, maar dat ek die landsgrense kan inkleur met ‘n volle prentjie van ‘n volwaardige nasie.

So dikwels onderrig ons leerders bloot om feite te herroep in toetssituasies.  Ons moedig dit derhalwe aan.  Maar om dooie landsgrense te memoriseer, is nie lekker nie – dis vervelig; ons maak kinders se natuurlike fassinasie met die wêreld om hulle dood.

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Eers nadat ek saam met ‘n vriend deur die nege provinsies van Suid-Afrika getoer het – en ek die veranderende landskap eerstehands kon ervaar – verstáán ek mynbou en mielies – én gee ek actually om.

Stadig maar seker, is ek besig om my passie vir aardrykskunde te herwin.  Net soos my pamflet van Afrika.

Konnektivisme: ’n nuwe leerteorie

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Ek is besig om op te lees oor konnektivisme – ‘n leerteorie wat kortweg sê dat die skep van kennis as nodusse en netwerke voorgestel kan word.

Dit is dus ‘n verfyning van konstruktivisme, wat sê dat leerders self kenniskonstrukte skep.  Die nuwe -isme beskryf in verdere detail hoe die konstrukte (op neuronvlak) lyk – en beperk “leer” nie net tot lewende organismes nie.  Ook verreken hulle die uitwerking wat tegnologie op (informele) leerprosesse het.

(Die konstruktivistiese leerteorieë het op hulle beurt weer behaviorisme uitgebrei, wat leer d.m.v. kondisionering aangeprys het.)

Vanuit ‘n artikel deur George Siemens http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm is die volgende leertendense en -beskouïnge vandag relevant:

  • Many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime.
  • Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.
  • Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.
  • Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.
  • The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.
  • Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.
  • Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).

Die uitgangspunte van konnektivisme is:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

Ek hoor graag wat julle hieroor dink.  Veral my ingenieursvriende en ouens wat spesifiek met netwerke (en wiskundige modulasies daarvan) werk.  Intussen lees en wonder ek verder.

Miskien is ‘n beter vertaling: verbintenisme?