This week we were asked to deal with specific questions in our blog: “Have you Have you begun to see the rudiments of a learning network forming? Has some of the conceptual uncertainty settled?”
I’m not sure I ever had any “conceptual uncertainty”, or if I did, it certainly hasn’t been debilitating. But the first question is more complex. Some networking has occurred in this class because the structures set up, and the reading assigned, allow for a rich communication experience via blogs, Moodle forums, and others. I am having trouble seeing the class “members” as forming a “learning network”, however. At least, it’s not a network in the ideal connection-based form suggested by this week’s readings, including Groups vs Networks, and Downes’ comments in the Friday Elluminate session.
We may in fact be a just a group, because we have leaders (Stephen and George). Although these leaders are very open and do not necessarily try to control the conversation, they are still leaders. Thus, as I questioned in the Moodle forum this week, the network ideal (and idyll) is being subverted by the group, which I think happens a lot. I’m coming to a position where there is an ideal, and an operational reality, that are often in opposition when it comes to defining types of connections.
In the case of those of us who are being graded (formally enrolled students) the ideal more markedly differs from the operational reality. Referring to George Siemen’s presentation this week, there is a “coercion to the norm” (a “sameness”, according to Downes) implied by the marking scheme. I am an autonomous agent, and yet my grade will be dependent on my performance through elements (and levels of achievement) determined by the instructors. These elements may not reflect my total learning experience in this course. For example, a mere 10% for all my blog posts seems very low; 40% is based on, essentially, for big posts or “papers”. 20% for a concept map that reflects the entire course does not reflect how I learn. And 30% for the final project implies that I should start working on that right now instead of writing this post. I have thus lost autonomy as a learner, and am experiencing similar frustration as my students must experience with my own class grading schemes.
I am uncertain whether our instructors’ goals, in offering this course, are more on the freedom (high innovation) or the control (for achievement of particular outcomes). The course seems to have a particular outcomes for them in terms of research they may be doing on this type of course and on connectivism and networks. As the learner, I would prefer to restructure the grading scheme to actually reflect my learning (for example, grading my understanding of the subject in terms of an aggregate of *all* my work, at 100%). So perhaps there is a network forming, and I’m just a discontented node.