Even as I struggle with the definition of theory and knowledge, one of the important questions I have is on how generalizable theories around connectivism and connective knowledge really are. I posed a question in our Week 2 elluminate discussion about the role of technology – what if technology was taken out of the picture (as it is for a vast majority of people across the world); what would it signify for these theories? Would they still remain valid? Would they still be able to describe learning and knowledge?
Dave suggested that his theory of rhizomatic knowledge depended critically on the availability of the technology and Stephen agreed that technology is a critical role. The process of connectivist learning would be extremely slow and complicated if technology was not pervasive enough. However, maybe there are innovative ways to overcome these challenges n a practical manner and we have made progress, albeit slow in reducing the digital divide.
But it defines for me a more rigid context – not generalizable for everyone, but probably only for everyone technologically enabled and educated in the use of technology. Maybe this is an important distinction from other theories too if we attempt to answer the question “what are the types of learning best explained?” by the theory.
Not only this, I remarked in my definition of what a theory is, that the strength of theory depends, apart from generalization, on verifiability/testability as well. Right now, I am having problems trying to substantiate (perhaps I need to do some more research?) on what could be a way to verify or test the hypotheses placed in front of us. Can we say, that “recognizing patterns” is how learning occurs? Or that “knowledge is the network”? What verifies or falsifies these propositions? Is there a quantitative method that can help us or do we need one at all?
Would love to hear from the group!
While I agree that technology is essential, I have a very broad definition of technology. It could be a stick, a la “2001 A Space Odyssey.”. I would even say a hand or vocal curds, though I know that is extreme. I believe humanity will use what it can to conect; that thing, whether it is one’s own body, a stick, or a supercomputer, is technology.
> But it defines for me a more rigid context – not generalizable for everyone
Well, that’s not really the case.
Take the steam engine, for example. It works through a process of burning coal to heat water, which turns to steam, which it then fed through a turbine or engine in order to produce power.
Ypu need quite a but of technological infrastructure to build the engines, and you need coal to burn. Without the technology and the coal, you don’t get the benefits of the steam engine.
Does this mean that the principles behind the steam engine are not generalizable? Of course not. The *principles* apply to everybody, whether or not they have a steam engine.
It’s the same thing with connectivism. The principles apply, even to people who do not have the technology to easily observe them in action.
Thanks, Stephen. Your response raised some more questions and thoughts. Need to think about this some more before I can respond 🙂