Showing posts with label connectivism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label connectivism. Show all posts

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#CMC11 Visual Culture

With somewhat of a researchers background I am motivated to try to define the study of the photographs and other images that I possess.  It seems to me that being able to define such a study in acceptable research terms would give it more credibility.   With that aim in mind I came across the term “visual culture.”

Visual culture is defined in various ways:
According to Nicholas Mirzoeff' is perhaps best understood as a tactic for studying the functions of a world addressed through pictures, images, and visualizations, rather than through texts and words.  Here is a link to an article by Mirzoeff on visual culture.

Another term that came up during my search for meaning is semiotics:  According to Daniel Chandler in his online book on the subject:  Semiotics represents a range of studies in art, literature, anthropology and the mass media rather than an independent academic discipline. Those involved in semiotics include linguists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, literary, aesthetic and media theorists, psychoanalysts and educationalists. Beyond the most basic definition, there is considerable variation amongst leading semioticians as to what semiotics involves. It is not only concerned with (intentional) communication but also with our ascription of significance to anything in the world.

I questioned whether this is the appropriate method as it seems that semiotics would be more the study of language and text however it is also defined as follows:   Semiotics provides us with a potentially unifying conceptual framework and a set of methods and terms for use across the full range of signifying practices, which include gesture, posture, dress, writing, speech, photography, film, television and radio. Semiotics may not itself be a discipline but it is at least a focus of enquiry, with a central concern for meaning-making practices which conventional academic disciplines treat as peripheral.  Here is a link to an article  by Irit Krygier, that provides photography with a definiton in todays digital age.

One could argue that I cannot do an adequate study of the photographs I possess unless I understand the intent of the photographer.  What is the context of the photo being taken?  Was it vacation, for a study, for a business reason…this anonymous collection of photographs may not provide worthwhile data in that regard.   These photos are an expression of human life, the way we live, and how we capture on film and what we deem important.  Reviewing hundreds if not thousands of photos of home life, vacations, landscapes, and celebrations provides a rich in-depth study of life in the United States but through travels abroad.

I am currently review several photographs of a travelers experience in Russia.  These photos were probably taken in the 1950’s and are actually slides:






Not sure where these photos were taken:

scan0071 scan0082 scan0098
I can put pictures that other people take and study them in the context of what motivates or inspires me to take pictures:

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I love to take pictures of old farm buildings, abandoned farms and capture these symbols of a fading way of life.

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The above photo was taken in Silverton, CO at the Durango/Silverton Train.

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The above is a photo of ruins in Mesa Verde.  To me this is somewhat symbolic of how we capture other cultures through photography.

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Another abandoned farm picture.

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Sinclair, WY I believe..a semi abandoned town with an interesting history.

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We spent the night in a Hostel in Grand Junction.  I thought I would be uncomfortable in the postage stamp sized room but I immediately fell asleep.  The picture above is of the lobby, lounge space at the hostel.
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On the Durango/Silverton train.

If I were to do a post like this every week for the next five years I doubt that I would get through my collection of photos, one which I continue to add to either via scanning or my own photos.  It is a fascinating study for me.  I am struggling with how to define or frame this study and analysis.  Knowing that will help me a great deal to identify the context in which to place this analysis.

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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Connectivism cck09

ast night was my first class for Connectivism facilitated by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. Along with about 50 other students on Elluminate I was quite excited and honored to be included in this "ground breaking" opportunity to participate n an open education/course-ware class. Even though this class is open we still have certain expectations and requirements that we have been asked to meet in order to enhance our learning experience, one of them is that we blog or conduct some other collaborative initiative in order to achieve the outcomes of the course. Actually that is the easy part for me! I have the following sites with blogs:, and I am on Twitter as cathlanderson.

To be honest I had forgotten that this class was starting this month until I checked my email yesterday notifying students about the evening's Elluminate session. What delighted me a great deal was that very morning I had been spending some time researching different collaboration tool available via Web 2.0 and what had initiated that was the fact that I had been reading the 2008 Horizons report the night before. I am intrigued by the rise in Collaboration tools via the web in addition to the variety of other tools I have been researching, when I have a chance to "squeeze" that into my day. In addition to researching these tools I have also been testing another tool, Evernote in order to keep and organize my findings.

Connectivism is a new learning theory coined by George Siemens. According to Stephen Downes' blog Connectivism is; the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks....shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Hence people see a relation between connectivism and constructivism or active learning (to name a couple). Given this I see a real connection between my research on collaborative web tools and the focus of this course. Further linking my search for collaborative web tools I jotted down the definition of collective intelligence, which I see linked to connectivism as wel, from Wikipedial it is...Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals. Collective intelligence appears in a wide variety of forms of consensus decision making in bacteria, animals, humans, and computer networks. I like the fact that this definition also notes the "competition" that sometimes needs to occur as this does not denote "group think," or the "hive mind" type of thinking that is defined as inWikipedia .." a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.

The Horizon 2008 report notes that "the way we work, collaborate and communicate is evolving as boundaries become more fluid and globalization increases. Further driving these changes is the portability of tools that we can use to access content and the Internet which will facilitate and enhance our ability to collaborate and work together. Other notes that I made on the report that are integrated with the course are:

The renewed emphasis on collaborative learning is pushing the education community to develop new forms of interaction and assessment

The "academy" is faced with a need to provide formal instruction in information, visual and technological literacy as well as in how to crate meaningful content with today's tools

The growing use of Web 2.0 and Social Networking ---combined with collective intelligence and mass automation is gradually but inexorably changing the practice of scholarship

Doing this sort of research on the web is sometimes exciting, but more often than not overwhelming and the availability of these tools is no exception. Evaluating and separating the useful from the useless, as Barry Dahl would say, is the challenge. It is a time of great change in how we work together, access information (or how information comes to us), on the web, and the tools we use to access that information, and how we build knowledge. I can think of no better time to be an "addicted" researcher and have a passion for education and "trying" to follow these trends.