Friday, September 18, 2009

Systems Theory and Connectivism there a link?

As I listened to George Siemens and Stephen Downes discuss how they defined Connectivism, as a learning theory within their respective frames of reference, I started to consider how I would define it, what my frame of reference would be, even though some time and a lot of other things have occurred since my dissertation research I would say it would have to be systems theory. For those of you who are not familiar with systems theory it is: an interdisciplinary theory about the nature of complex systems in nature, society, and science. More specifically, it is a framework by which one can investigate and/or describe any group of objects that work in concert to produce some result. (retrieve from Wikipedia, 9/18/09) In essence, it is based upon the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its got me to thinking about how connectivism which is defined as: the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those network, by Stepen Downes in his blog; Half an Hour. (retrieved 9/18/09) Further definitions of connectivism include the following; "a learning theory for the digital age," has been developed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes based on their analysis of the limitations of behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism to explain the effect technology has had on how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn...(retrieved from Wikipedia, )

Systems learning theory includes Senge's five disciplines which are: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision and team learning.

Personal Mastery: Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. But without it no organizational learning occurs....People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never ‘arrive’. (Senge, 1990)

Mental Models: Deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action... turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. (Senge, 1990) Includes self-reflection, sharing with others, "mashing up," and knowledge creation

Building a shared vision: a shared vision is "something that inspires people and gets them to pull together for cooperative action. People really get energized by what their group is trying to accomplish...." (retrieved from, 9/19/09)

Team learning: the process of aligning and developing the capacities of a team to credit the results as its members design---allows for rapid growth among team members or rapid learning---the use of technology allows for unique opportunities for teams to come together and practice the concepts of the five disciplines.

Systems theory is merely the frame of reference in which I place connectivism to better understand how the concept can be applied to learning. I can apply the discipline of personal mastery to connectivisim because it makes sense that in order for the individual to contribute to their network he or she first has to be an active learner, open to external opportunities to learn and continuously learn. From this putting aside any biases or barriers in order to better learn from others is necessary in accepting the critical elements associated with being open to the ideas of others in one's network. In this way one builds a "connections," develops a connectivism learning mindset, and contributes to team learning.

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