I got a lot done, this weekend, hunkered down at my desk, typing out code for Son of Citation Machine (SOCM). I’m re-programming major parts of the tool so that it will run faster and draw less of a load on the servers. I’m also adding the ability to save citations for bibliography building — which adds more of a load on the servers :-/. It’s competition. There are other very good citation tools out there now and although I do not find SOCM all that interesting to work on, its Google Ads are paying for the two web servers that run Class Blogmeister, Rubric Builder, Landmarks for Schools, and all the other more interesting things there and that I’d like to add.
The mistake that I’m entering a new work week with, is having watched Rick Schwier’s interview with George Siemens on Connectivism as the last think I did last night. My guilt is that my weekend of coding and the personal server load that a summer of on-the-road work has cost me, has all interfered with the connective opportunities that persist in my fairly stagnant personal learning network. This was more clear to me this morning, as I dipped into Twitter, looking for the reference to the Siemens interview, and found so many other very sticky comments that left me with a big, “I’ve got to come back and read that!”
I leave at about 8:30 this morning for a drive up to Roxboro to speak at the convocation of local community college and later to talk about PLNs with the faculty. So I have only four hours to re-connect — and to catch up on four days of e-mail.
The other thing that I can be thankful to the Schwier/Siemens conversation for is that I’m up at 4:00 in the morning, with their ideas rattling around in my head. One thing that kept nagging at me was a glancing distinction that George made between Connection and Connective. He stated that Connection is more about networks, and cited some smart person as a reference.
Having not connected so much with Siemens writings, nor of the writers he refers to, I’m left, in the early hours of Monday morning, to my own intuitive since of a difference, between education as connection and education as connective.
Connection, I learn from Merriam Webster, is a noun, and implies to me something that has already happened or is already planned. From my little dictionary widget, I read, “The placing of parts of an electronic circuit in contact so that a current may flow.” Even though the circuits can be laid out in a variety of ways, the outcome has been pre-ordained — a buzzer, light bulb, or crystal radio.
Connective, on the other hand, is an adjective, “serving to connect”. One is established or at least mapped out to be established, and the other is a potential for connection, or a condition that leads to connections. One leads to, by function, predictable outcomes, while the other may result in surprising outcomes with unforeseen benefits. As I thought of this earlier this morning, I saw sticky tendrils or dendrites, reaching out into their environment of experiences and making connections with a wide variety of potentially related ideas, concepts, and people. The key is going into the learning experience with stickiness rather than pre-defined circuits.
Of course, pre-defined circuits, on one level, are necessary. There is a need for being connected with common languages (literacy & numeracy), and a cultural, societal, physical, and historical context. There is a need for foundation. Plus there was, at one time, a great deal of value for predefined circuits, when you needed a management workforce. But when you need participants in a rapidly changing global economy who are inventive, adaptive, and compassionate contributors, then a certain amount of unpredictability in our learning establishments should be a goal.
So it seems to me, from my early morning mental wanderings, that it has become more important to make lessons sticky, than it is to make lesson plans.