Lisa’s CCK08 Wordpress Blog

October 3, 2008

The Paradox of Active Participation

Filed under: Musings,Week 4 — Lisa M Lane @ 6:21 am

Taking off from Carlos González Casares’ reply in the Moodle forum on “The Importance of context”, I am thinking about my own participation in this class. Keep in mind that I consider myself not just a “for-credit learner” but also an “actively engaged” participant according to George Siemen’s list.

Carlos wrote:

Use the social media of the web to learning is easier by a more active way of participation because of the continuous overload of information. But in a contradictory sense a more “active” participation increase the overload of information and reduce the time to interpretation.

In this format, when I participate actively (by posting in the Moodle forum, or blogging, or commenting on another’s blog) I increase my workload immediately. This is ironic, because in participating I am attempting to understand. To understand complex ideas, I need to simplify them and organize them. Yet each post or reply creates a vested interest in that particular discussion, and I then feel obligated to follow it and see if anyone has replied to me.

Is this ego or just fear of missing something? I’m not sure. Is my reductionism necessary for me to understand? You bet. But if my participation causes an ever-increasing need to participate, then efforts to cull out my readings and just follow a few people are undermined. I’ll respond less to others in an effort, not to reduce cognitive dissonance or pause to interpret, but in an effort the sleep and eat.

It is indicative of the problem that I read someone’s blog post yesterday on how important it is that we all go outside and enjoy the pleasures of the season changing to autumn, and now I cannot find the post to link to it here. The overload builds on itself, and the desire to participate decreases.

If this is true of me now in this course, perhaps it is also true of students we might have use the methods of connectivism in their own work. As we head toward the weeks where we’ll discuss instructional design and the role of educators, I wonder whether my own “do I really want to participate here? won’t that increase the work I have to do?” response wouldn’t also be an issue for students.


1 Comment

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I’m more of an observant because I have very limited time. I’ve decided from the start to focus on the design and management of the course (basically, what George Siemens and Stephen Downes do and how they do it to support the learning experience) and to follow a small number of people – those I feel are more valuable for me plus some of the posts of the “highlighted resources” in The Daily. I also skim the Moodle forums every other day or so to check on some of the threads (as a lurker). I guess that if I were as involved in the course as you have been I’d have to spend 20+ hours a week to feel comfortable. I think that the problem you are bringing forward has mainly to do with the huge number of people involved. It is impossible to connect to and follow all interesting participants and the various ways in which they are organizing their leaning – too many places to go, too many resources to use, too much to read and process and articulate. This will not be the case with a regular course of 20 or 30 students. Here we have to make choices, in the line of what Stephen Downes has suggested a couple of times – concentrate on what interests, works and makes sense for us, and accept that we can not grasp beyond a small part of the huge flow of information. Having said that, I struggle with the same discomfort of feeling I’m missing very important things all the time :-).
    For what is worth, I appreciate the valuable contributions you have been making to the course.

    Comment by José Mota — October 6, 2008 @ 3:05 am

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