Friday, March 26, 2010

When is learning not networked learning?

Networked learning is not a theory of everything... I think I verge on making that mistake when I talked about 'promoting connections'... in the minds and lives of students and staff, and things you do to promote connections to the point that they engage with/in networked learning. I believe that is vital to bring them to the feast and so it is relevant and foundational, even a pre-condition to it, but not essentially networked learning.
And, in a similar way, I'm not convinced it's useful to extend Personal Learning Environments (PLE) as including 'everything', even if it does temporarily cause us to reflect on the differences between PLE's and VLE's, and how people configure their whole learning environment.
Part of the problem is that learning is very complex in humans and they're doing it a lot, to various degrees...
Recently I was reading a bit of Peter Alheit and when his use of the term 'networked learning' caught my attention:
What do you think...? How is the following 'networked learning'? p117
The purpose behind this new understanding of the term 'learning' is the option of networking these different forms of learning in a synergistic way - learning should not only be systematcially extended to cover the entire lifespan, but should also take place 'lifewide', i.e. learning environments should be engendered in which the various types of learning can complement each other organically. 'The "lifewide" dimension brings the complementarity of formal, non-formal and informal learning into sharper focus' (Commission, 2000, p9.)
Lifelong, 'networked' learning thus seems to become an economic and social imperative of the first degree. The 'new' concept of lifelong learning betrays an ambition that John Field has termed 'the new educational order' (Field, 2000, pp.133ff). Learning acquires a new meaning - for society as a whole, for education and training institutions and for individuals. The shift in connotation exposes an inner contradiction, however, in that this new learning is initially 'framed' by political and economic precepts. The goals are competitiveness, employment and adaptive competence on the part of the workforce. The intention is also, however, to strengthen freedom of biographical planning and the social involvement of individuals. Lifelong learning 'instrumentalises' and 'emancipates' at one and the same time.
This seems to put a high price on 'networking' formal, informal and non-formal learning.... which is haunting me somewhat... Is 'networking' here just another word for 'including' or 'linking', etc. and thus a mere co-incidence, or does it have something important to say to the concept that is the subject of this blog? Right now, it strikes me as pitching for another [learning] 'theory of everything'.... (sorry Peter - probably 'my bad')
As trends in learning theory move from behaviourist, cognitivist, and social learning, the lens shifts to such a wide angle that, in the end, one is depicting 'life', rather than 'learning'. But I think it also happens when I get over-excited about an insight or idea I've just grasped (or re-grasped) so that 'learning theory myopia' (or is it hyperopia!?!) kicks in, and, suddenly, I see nothing else - for a while at least!

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