Connectivism blog: When learning goes underground…

Altho this blog was originally about autonomous language learning, it soon became clear to me that what I am interested in is learning. Period. Although this blog is not devoted to blogging technology or the use of blogs in education, much of what is written on such blogs is often highly relevant to learning, often because blogging and social software raises so many interesting issues regarding learning and teaching, and forces teachers to re-examine many of their beliefs and values.

Here’s an example:

An LMS was the main learning tool (which was a good choice for the program – many of the learners valued the centralized nature of communication and content presentation). After a short period of time, however, groups of learners “broke off” from the program and started holding discussions through Skype, IM, wikis, and other tools. Learners selected tools that were more tightly linked to the types of learning tasks occurring. When the learning was content consumption or simple discussion threads, the LMS was fine. As the learning became more social, learners started using tools with additional functionality…What is the cost of learning “going underground” (i.e. off the radar of the institution)? The biggest impact is that the group of learners no longer has access to the thoughts of the entire group. Small communities form – but are not linked back solidly to the main group. Groups form due to ineffective learning design (tools, content, and process). Second, the organization loses its central role…The concern is that the failure of the organization to provide tools results in a less effective learning experience for all learners…It is the responsibility of the school/college/university to provide the ecology in which learning can occur.

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