I was stopped by this statement by George Siemens in his article, “Connectivism” where he states that one of the principles of connectivism is that learning may reside in non-human appliances. I was stopped because my response to this was, “Well, what makes us human then, if computers now can know more than we do and learn, even?
Sugata Mitra asked a question at one of his talks that I attended. He asked us if “knowing” was obsolete now. We have Google at our fingertips and can look up pretty much any piece of information. Is it necessary to “know” anymore?
Homosapien means the “Man that knows” but what are we if don’t need to know anymore? I spent quite a long time this week trying to think of some attribute that humans have that separates us from the animals.
I am not an anthropologist and it’s been many years since my last psychology class on Motivation (which I LOVED and still remember bits and pieces from, 20 years later…). If you’re looking for researched-backed assertions, you won’t get any. But, I will propose what I believe separates us from the animals: Humans have a unique capacity to Create.
We create not just to meet our survival needs, but for the pleasure of it. I am a musician and we can labour for hours to perfect a piece. We execute it and as the last sounds die away, we are left with emptiness once again. Why exactly did I work so hard for something so ephemeral? (Sometimes I wish I was a painter because at least what I’ve created has some permanency.) I guess it is because there is something pleasureable to humans being able to take raw materials and then to transform them to something we’ve imagined uniquely in our minds.
This leads me to our second reading for this week: Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy. My first thought was, “Hey, isn’t this cool? People have linked skills and activities in ICT to Bloom’s Taxonomy!” After I perused the pages, my second thought was, “OMG! This is so BLOOM’IN CONFUSING!” The information was too dense and made me feel overwhelmed, instead of enlightened.
Bloom’s taxonomy in the digital classroom hardly has any resemblance to what it was when I first studied it. So, I will pull out of it what speaks to me and wipe aside all the white noise. (I think filtering is a skill we need to have confidence to exercise. There is so much information and research out in the world. We need to know what to take onboard and to cut out all the rest of the cra…oops I mean, “noise”.)
I believe that when Creation is the goal that learning happens spontaneously and with little awareness of the intense effort needed. The latter is important to note. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to “create” but the paradox (for me, anyways) is that there is little awareness of the effort when the goal is more important than finding rest. So, the latter is the key to student-driven learning. When the goal is more important than rest from work, learning happens and it is student-driven.
Here is an example from my own life, to further explain: I might read a software manual because it’s “good for me” but I won’t remember a thing. However, if you show me something that another person has created using a certain software, all of a sudden, it’s completely different. That person’s project would inspire me to try my own project. Then, see me zipping through the software manual trying to figure out how to do it. Moreover, I’ll remember the things I’ve learned from reading the software manual in order to finish a project. When I’m confronted by a problem, there will be no obstacle that I will not surmount in order to solve it. If the manual doesn’t help me, then I will turn to the internet. I have that image in my mind of what I want to create driving me to finish my goal.
Now, that knowledge resides on the internet, students don’t need to depend on their teachers for “knowledge”. They can find it themselves. Moreover, they’ll remember it better if they find it themselves. I always tell my children that there is no answer that can’t be found on the internet. Someone–somewhere– has had a similar question and has already asked it on the internet. The challenge is to put in the right search terms in Google in order to find the answer. I have yet to find a question that someone has not already asked and received an answer on the internet.
This idea is gaining ground in education and I agree with it: We can start with CREATION in our digitally interconnected world. Creation, traditionally, was seen as the highest tier on the taxonomy. Implied was that it was the last thing to be addressed: You give the students the knowledge and move up the rungs and at the end of the unit –if you have time in the curriculum–you may get to create something new with what you’ve learned.
If we want to exploit the strength of the internet now, perhaps we need to give students the greater responsibility in the Knowledge area of Bloom’s and focus on the Creation part as teachers to inspire student-driven learning.
What exactly am I saying? Perhaps we need to start with Creation: Give students projects that inspire them and excite them. Allow them choice and enough open-endedness that they can put their own personality-stamp on the project. Then, watch the students move through the needed stages on their way to Creation, as enthusiasm and the necessary problem-solving in the creation-process pushes them.
We are preparing our students for skills and careers that don’t even exist yet in the world. So, this further strengthens the argument that dispensing knowledge is no longer a teacher’s main role because the students’ main role is no longer to absorb knowledge. The knowledge we give them may be meaningless in their future jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. In a world of Connectivism, what may be more important is the ability to access knowledge and to discern it’s authenticity, validity, and reliability. I can predict that university degrees will be less about the content we’ve absorbed and more about the skills we have to access content through the internet and understanding its authenticity and validity in order to apply it towards a good-end.
I will propose that Creation is now the starting point and also the goal. Accessing information and problem-solving along the way is the new means to the new end.
Here… I will exercise my Creation skills and create my own image to illustrate my more simplified view of the new Bloom’s Taxonomy in a digital classroom.
Where are you creative in your life?