Friday, March 18, 2011

CCK11: Knowing and Points of View

In a previous post, I tried mapping my knowledge of Connectivism. I created a couple of static images that showed how I related to various other entities in the network of concepts, people, and experiences that make up my knowledge of Connectivism, but even as I posted these images, I complained that they were not quite dynamic enough.

My sister, introduced me to a new mapping tool called SpicyNodes that seems to do a better job of capturing at least some of the dynamism that I sense in knowledge networks, so I started again mapping what I know of Connectivism—in part to learn SpicyNodes and in part to learn Connectivism. This is my first attempt, but I share it with you because I think it works well enough.

Note that unlike my earlier static images, this SpicyNode allows for a shift in perspective as one traverses the network. This is important.

This SpicyNode, for instance, begins with the Connectivism node in the middle. Keep in mind that this was a rhetorical decision on my part. There is nothing inherent in the Connectivism node that makes it the starting node of this network, or even the key or central node. I just happened to start there. I could have started with one of the other nodes: me, Stephen Downes, George Siemens, but I didn't. Rather, I made a rhetorical, political, logical choice to start with the Connectivism node for this particular SpicyNodes text. I should not confuse my choice of order among the nodes with the natural order (if there is one) of the Universe. Even this small collection of nodes is a rhizomatic structure in the sense that Deleuze and Guattari suggest: it has no center, no president, no controlling concept, except the one that I (or you) give it. My choice is mine, and in this particular case, was likely influenced by the fact that I'm enrolled in the CCK11 MOOC: Connectivism and Connective Knowledge.

So I started with the Connectivism node, but in SpicyNodes, I can move to another node, and the network magically rearranges itself about the new center. This captures visually a delicious interaction between knowledge and point of view. Our knowing at any given time depends on our point of view at that time.

Click on Stephen Downes in the SpicyNode above, and see how the whole pattern of knowledge about Connectivism rearranges itself. Click on George. Click on the subnodes. The pattern shifts. There is no knowledge, then, of Connectivism—there is only a knowing of Conenctivism from a particular point of view.

This would seem to break us apart into isolated silos of knowing, but while isolation does occur (Us: the Wall should come down, and Them: the Wall should stay up), it is neither inevitable nor permanent. In his book On Complexity (2008), Edgar Morin says that we must engage other points of view through dialog, not with the aim of reconciling our points of view through some Hegelian dialectic, but with the aim of understanding, accommodating, and perhaps sharing our points of view through a Morinian dialogic. We must accept that knowledge cannot calcify into absolutes of inviolable patterns, tiny dialectics falling like mollusk shells to a sea floor; rather, knowing must remain a dynamic dialog with others, always conducted from the center of our own point of view but with conversations like cellular filaments arcing among all the different points of view to permit a shared conversation that mutually informs all points of view.

For me, at least, this captures the idea behind MOOC CCK11: a dynamic dialog, mostly in writing, that permits a shared conversation that informs all points of view without trying to make them all the same (a useless task anyway).

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