Last year, my oldest son, Mark, called me and said his medical school acceptance would be put on hold unless he produced his vaccination records by the next day. That doesn’t sound like a difficult problem, until time and geography constraints are thrown in. His records were located in a lock box in our home in Kansas. My wife and I were both in Michigan, about a thousand miles away. Each of us had a key—the only two keys to the box. I threw out a number of possible solutions: contacting the family doctor (who informed us their paper records had been moved offsite for digitizing and were not accessible at the moment), breaking open the box with a crowbar, and begging the medical school to give him enough time for the key to be mailed overnight. My son, being a tech-savvy millennial, had other ideas. He went to the Internet, searched the Web for information about picking locks and quickly found a diagram that described the bends to put into a paper clip in order to create a replacement key for our specific lockbox. A YouTube video provided details about the mechanics behind picking the lock. Within a few short minutes, he had his medical records. I might also add that this was a high-end lock box, so I was surprised he opened it that quickly. He had “know-where.” Mark sent messages to his friends about his experience picking the lock and became a node on their information networks. He now is their go-to guy for future lock-picking needs! He used know-where to build know-how. This was a connectivist process in action. The learning resided in a community outside the individual but was available to him when he required it.
This is an example of connectivism in action. George Siemens summarizes in his blog:
1. Connectivism is the application of network principles to define both knowledge and the process of learning. Knowledge is the pattern of relationships, and learning is the creation of new connections.
2. Connectivism focuses on the inclusion of technology as part of our distribution of knowledge. Our knowledge resides in the connections we form, both with people and with information sources such as databases, wikis, and blogs.
3. Connectivism recognizes the fluid nature of knowledge and connections based on context.
It is the way our students are learning and applying their knowledge!