Disconnecting from Connectivism

I have a lot of feelings about connectivism.

Before I get into that too much, I’ll address the Connectivism group’s prompt regarding additional resources for personal learning networks. I took a look here, here, and here, but honestly I didn’t find these to be particularly helpful. As I mentioned in my discussion board post, I find this process to be overwhelming; when browsing the internet I have a tendency to follow link after link until I’ve lost track of where I started and where I was going. There simply is a limit to how much time and energy I can devote to this kind of thing. Of course, I do see the value in keeping up with trends and prominent voices in the field, especially given how rapidly technology evolves; I’m not opposed to the concept altogether. However, I’m not sure how I personally can reconcile the need to build a PLN with stopping myself from getting totally lost in an endless sea of links and hashtags. Fortunately I am already connected to an experienced instructional designer (my best friend) who might be able to point me in the right direction.

I also have to be honest, and therefore extraordinarily snobby, for a moment and admit that much of these resources (including the Siemens articles) did not resonate with me because of an alarming number of grammatical and punctuation errors. This is something I struggle with in all corners of the internet; I have a hard time trusting a source that doesn’t meet my standards for quality writing—especially given that some PLNs will be made up of small groups who may or may not be true experts in the field. I realize that most likely the biggest issue regarding quality is that many of these writers just don’t have the time to obsessively edit and most likely do not have professional editors checking behind them. Still, I find this frustrating and off-putting, and the old-fashioned side of me strongly dislikes that writing skills have largely dropped off the table of traditional education (starting with early grade school, all the way through).

Similarly, I found Siemens’s general perspective on connectivism to be… well, somewhat alarming. The emphasis on chaos made me uncomfortable (who wants to live a life of chaos??), but more than that I am opposed to the idea that it’s a good thing for everyone to be a journalist and for the mediums by which we receive information to have a huge influence on us and our views. I also feel that the endorsement of “revolutionary ideas of today [that] at one time existed as a fringe element” has the potential to be quite dangerous in the context of “a shifting reality”—the recent election being a prime example of how much we have failed to discern accurate sources of information from the internet. What’s his solution for the overwhelming tendency of people to seek confirmation bias, conspiracy theories, and other forms of blatantly false information (fueled by paranoia that any mainstream media source is peddling lies)? Though the field of instructional design is not as politically charged as many others, I can see how this frightening trend could wriggle its way in, and I think we all have to be very careful of how we employ social media in a professional context.

All that being said, I do agree with him that decision-making and a holistic view of cognition and learning is imperative, as are the abilities to connect concepts across disciplines (and externalize that knowledge) and to quickly identify and discard irrelevant information. My hope—particularly for younger generations who are now entering the workplace—is that we can all correct for the “chaos” of the internet as it exists today and move toward a better-educated society.

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