Questions about Networked Learning (prompted by #bonkopen)

The discussions this week surrounding #bonkopen have been incredibly rich. So much so that I have perhaps neglected the content a bit. Kind of like a webinar where most of the learning takes place in the backchannel. So the backchannel for me has been Lisa’s blog, Nancy’s blog, and surprisingly, more of Google+ (via George Station, Phil Hill, Laura Gibbs, et al.) than Twitter.


Networked-learning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For me the thing that continues to resonate, which seems so simple and obvious yet profound for me, is the notion of distinguishing between networked learning and group learning when designing the learning environment/experience. Full credit to Nancy White (see links in paragraph above to her and Lisa’s blogs).

I think I’ve thought this way for a long time, and have been familiar with the idea of connectivism … yet actually thinking about how that translates into designs that may be radically different from traditional course design … that is something new for me.

I am going to repost my comment on Nancy’s blog here, because I would love to see more discussion of these questions:

So much to think about. I have long been of the mindset that online education, when done well – i.e. designed to take full advantage of the affordances of a networked environment – ought to be superior to classroom-bound education. I have long worked with educators who would talk about how much better their classroom-bound teaching experiences were once they had experience with teaching well online.

So, is the end game here that all education should move from the group model to the networked model? As devices permeate our classrooms, that will certainly become possible in almost any learning situation over the next decade. Will the average educator be able to make this mind shift? Should they?

How will technology and content providers help or hinder this shift? What would be lost if we made this shift wholesale? What will be the major tensions in our education systems as the networked learning model rises and “competes” with the traditional model? Can those tensions be “managed” so that they are more creative than destructive?

Update 5/5: Both Nancy and Curt Bonk are continuing the dialog on Nancy’s blog, so responses/comments on my questions here are probably best provided over there!