My world has changed drastically in the past few weeks. Before enrolling in Walden’s Learning Theories and Instruction course, I had been standing on the sidelines contemplating whether I really wanted to jump into the fray of social media. Our course assignments forced me to take the plunge. Just a few weeks ago, my mind map (see previous post) would have been pretty sparse. Even now, I am just a beginner discovering how to use the wealth of knowledge available from these resources. Already, I have reaped the rewards of being connected. Siemens (2004) explains that “know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where” (introduction). As he explains it, connectivism acknowledges that an individual cannot know everything needed to function in our rapidly changing world. Instead, we must connect to information sources, which may be human or non-human.
In this blog, I’d like to describe a few of my learning connections and how they have helped me in my Walden studies.
I recently joined the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) as a student member, an affordable alternative to a full membership. I was immediately allowed to download a number of free publications, many of which address the same topics we have been discussing in our class. Earlier this week, I participated in a free Webinar presented by Nancy Duarte, Training Online: Creating Visual Stories That Resonate. She explained how to use stories to engage the audience and inspire a desired transformation. The “story” includes a “likeable hero” (the audience) who faces roadblocks but, through the guidance of a mentor (you), emerges transformed. Her presentation gave me some ideas that I have tucked away in long-term memory for future reference.
ASTD also provides on-site and online workshops and certificate programs on topics of interest to instructional designers. For example, the Essentials of Adult Learning workshop covers the ideas we’ve discussed this week and explains how to put those principles into practice.
Although I have not devoted much time yet to LinkedIn, I can foresee great potential for future job hunting. I have joined several special interest groups, including Instructional Design Central (IDC). Several of the IDC posts have led to resources related to my schoolwork.
Once again, I am just getting started with this social networking resource. However, I have found several technical writers and instructional designers to follow. I am also following several product managers from Adobe. As a result, I learned that a new release was just announced for the eLearning suite I purchased a few weeks ago. This prompted me to call Adobe customer support, and now a free upgrade is on its way.
The YouTube video sharing site has been a valuable informal learning resource for my Walden coursework. In my first course, I found a video that I wanted to include in my Powerpoint presentation. When I couldn’t figure out how to embed the video, I found a tutorial that explained the procedure. Just this week, I searched YouTube again for instructions on creating a mind map in FreeMind.
On several occasions I’ve found resources for our weekly discussions by consulting the delicious social bookmarking site. Now I need to be more conscientious about sharing my own bookmarks so that others can benefit from my research.
I’ve only had my smart phone for a few weeks, and it continues to amaze me. My fingers are still stumbling around on the tiny touchscreen keyboard, but I’m slowly becoming more proficient. Besides email and Web surfing, I have downloaded apps that allow me to easily connect to LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Plus, I can access the Walden portal and view discussion board posts and open links for course resources. In fact, mobile learning is one of the hottest topics being discussed right now on the instructional design blogs.
As part of my personal learning network, these resources demonstrate the central tenets of connectivism. By connecting to social networks of experts and to Web-based knowledge repositories, I can stay abreast of the latest information that I need for personal and professional development. I know I have only begun to scratch the surface of my learning network, and, as I view my classmates’ mind maps, I realize that some additional sources are worth investigating. And isn’t that what connectivism is all about? The challenge will be avoiding information overload and finding just what I need when I need it.
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivisim.htm