Thursday, January 27

#CCK11 - Connectivism & Connective Knowledge in Action!

This is my first reflection (posting) for the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course (CCK11), which is a 12-week open online course facilitated by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. This course will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. Participation is open to everyone and there are no fees or subscriptions required....Register here!

Important links:

Click here to read my experience participating in PLENK 2010, which was also conducted by Stephen and George.

"At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. It shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Knowledge is, on this theory, literally the set of connections formed by actions and experience.
Readings list for week 1

So, what does connectivism and connective knowledge mean to me? Instead of dwelling upon my own contextualized remixed or mashed-up version of this theory, I will instead share with you a true story that I believe manifests the potential effect of embracing connectivism, and connective knowledge.

A couple of months back (November 29th, 2010), I posted an article on this blog entitled, 'Islam, Higher Education & The Virtual Campus!', which Stephen Downes spotted in his RSS galaxy (I assume), and then he shared and reflected it on OLDaily. And as a result:

"Zaid, I read with interest the ZaidLearn blog that Stephen described in OLDaily. Great column! (And thanks to you, Stephen, for including it. This is what I meant when I sent you a note lauding your service to the educational community. You get people like Zaid and me together!)..."
- James Morrison (via E-mail)

First, thanks Stephen for connecting me to amazing people like James L. Morrison. I have probably lost count of how many amazing people and renowned educators, Stephen Downes has connected me to (knowingly or unknowingly) ever since I first appeared on OLDaily (in 2005). Those 26 appearances on OLDaily over the years (until now) have been magical in terms of connections and plugs to amazing people around the world, so I certainly owe him in appreciation and respect for that. THANK YOU!

Interestingly, thanks to this awesome Zaid-to-Stephen-to-James connection, I got to hook up with James L. Morrison for half-a-day, when he came to Malaysia on the 2nd January (2011) to conduct a couple of lectures and one workshop. If you are not familiar with this renowned educator and futurist, perhaps these 3 sites will enlighten you more about his contribution to mankind:

  • Horizon
    This is where (his homepage) you will find all his shared resources, including articles and workshop/presentation slides. And when you have written more than 200 articles, and conducted more than 240 lectures/presentations/workshops around the world, it becomes like....WOW...Thanks for sharing! This site has been hit more than a million times, so surely it must have had some impact on educators and learners around the world.

  • Innovate
    Founded and served as editor-in-chief, Innovate (2004 to 2009), a journal of online education.

  • The Technology Source
    Co-founded and served as editor-in-chief, The Technology Source (1997 to 2003).

What even amazed me more was his eagerness and excitement to have a learning conversation with me, which was really humbling, and I honestly felt a bit embarrassed. Here is man who has contributed so much to learning and education, and he is going all out to meet me. Who the ___ am I? Anyway, it didn't get to my head, and I showed similar genuine excitement to hook up with him, because surely I could learn some gems from this exceptional guru.

As I was recovering from a flu, we could only meet up a few hours before his Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Speakers Series Lecture at Sunway University (3rd January), which was entitled, 'Higher Education in Transition'.

We met at 2.30 pm (3rd January) at Sunway Resort Hotel, and soon after a car sent us to the lecture hall at Sunway University where he was to deliver his lecture at 5.30 pm. Yes, 5.30 pm! Although, James has done more than 200 official lectures around the world, he still likes to take his time to setup his Mac, rehearse his presentation, and get comfortable with the environment before delivering his lecture. I certainly found that amusing for a man that has delivered lectures for decades, but then again that is one of the signs of a great educator, which is that they are always striving to improve whatever they are doing.

Besides the preparation, he was eager to go through his slides with me, and get my feedback and insights to improve further. Those couple of hours before the lecture was probably more valuable and enriching than the actual lecture, because I got to have an enriching learning conversation with him, and see how a great educator prepares for a lecture.

"Higher education is in a major transition period that will fundamentally change the way colleges and universities will conduct their business in the coming decades. Although change in social institutions is seldom rapid, the combined forces of demography, globalization, economic restructuring, and information technology are forcing colleges to reconceptualize their markets, organizational structures, and pedagogical practices. This presentation focused on the impact of these forces on American and Malaysian higher education." - Source

Click here to download presentation slides.

The lecture itself was also crispy and refreshing, as it also explored the new evolving paradigm of learning, and the importance of facilitating more authentic learning (e.g. project-based learning), instead of lecturing students through too much theory without allowing them to explore and experience the possibilities. Let's enjoy and reflect the recorded lecture broken down into 3 parts:


Higher Education in Transition, Part I from James Morrison on Vimeo.


Higher Education in Transition, Part II from James Morrison on Vimeo.


Higher Education in Transition, Part III from James Morrison on Vimeo.

After the lecture he insisted that I join him for the special dinner in honor of him. I suppose Sunway University Executive Director Elizabeth Lee, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Bignall were surprised, but obviously I would not turn down an opportunity to continue the learning conversation with a renowned futurist. In short, it was an inspiring learning experience and a great connection.


So, what lessons can we draw from this inspiring experience, and connectivism and connective knowledge?

First, if we have a reasonably good Internet connection today we can all connect with amazing learning resources and exceptional educators around the world. However, by simply passively connecting to content and people, and just consuming without contributing ourselves back to learning ecosystem and connective world, we will probably never experience the learning possibilities that connectivism and connective knowledge can empower.

In other words, if you really want to experience the empowering learning possibilities and inspiring connections, you need to take an active role, which means sharing your ideas and discoveries openly, and joining actively in the learning conversations (relevant to you) taking place online around the world.

"The juicier your shared discoveries and ideas are, the more likely people will want to connect and interact with you."
- Zaid Alsagoff

On January 19th, to my big surprise George Siemens wished me Happy New Year, and asked me whether I was available to present to CCK11 this year. I have to admit I nearly choked when I read the e-mail, and was thinking have you gone ___! Anyway, challenging it may be, I am not planning to chicken out, and will be hopefully be giving my online Elluminate presentation to CCK11 on Wednesday 16th March (Week 9 - Openness & Transparency).

Oops, what have I agreed myself into! If you have any tips to share, or topic you want me to discuss during my CCK11 presentation, I would certainly appreciate that. For once, help me out here...Please :)


A.A. Karim said...

Zaid, great juicy post! I missed that lecture, actually didn't know about it. Please give me a shout next time if there's interesting event in KL. Anyway, keep on sharing.

Unknown said...

Prof. Karim,

Thanks for the juicy feedback :)

I will give you a shout next time, but aren't you in Penang?

Anyway, if there is a really big event worth traveling for, I will let you know.



A.A. Karim said...

"...if you really want to experience the empowering learning possibilities and inspiring connections, you need to take an active role, which means sharing your ideas and discoveries openly, and joining actively in the learning conversations (relevant to you) taking place online around the world". I like this statement! You know why web browser is called "browser"? Because that's essentially what most people do...browsing! I think each of us should contribute back in our own way. BTW Zaid, I look forward to listen to your presentation. Idea? Hmm...what about "Education for the bottom billion"?