Learning is complex to be confined or reduced to a mechanistic model. Instead, we use networks and ecologies as a model for learning. Networks and ecologies are a suitable replacement for the current classroom and hierarchical model of education. This complex environment we find in education explains the emergency of learners understanding, group formation, advancement of a discipline, etc.
In learning we have individual parts, dynamic interaction, criticality of feedback in influencing adaptation and openness. Complexity provides a perspective on learning based on non-linearity of thought and variation as a source and outcome of thinking. Emergence is the outcome (understanding) that arises from different agents interacting and producing unanticipated outcomes. Emergence may manifest through collective self-organization, un-programmed functionality, interactive complexity or/and incompressible unfolding
For an autonomously developing system to acquire knowledge about a realistically complex environment, it must be able to interact extensively with that environment. Such interactions require very sophisticated sensors, which bring information into the system so that the system can test its understanding of the outside world. It requires speed and immediacy, ability to access a vast amount of information, demands user participation, mash ups, remixing and co-construction, capability to combine sources, cut, paste and edit on other peoples’ work, make cross referencing, manage the disappear of “the expert”, accept user generated content, mass participation and co-construction of ideas in a subject field fragmented and diverse, be able to participate, negotiate and personalize tools.
In education the primary social object is content, but Education value lies not only in the content itself but the social interaction, which occurs around the content. Social networks are first and foremost networks of communications involving symbolic language, cultural constraints, relationship of power. Each communication creates thoughts and meaning, which give rise to further communications, and thus the entire network generates itself. Living social systems are self-generating networks of communications.
Social systems produce non-material structures. Ideas, values, beliefs and other forms of knowledge generated by social systems constitute structures of meaning. These material structures – texts, works of art, technologies and material goods – are created for a purpose. They are embodiments of the shared meaning generated by the society’s networks of communications.
Autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity are properties of good networks that make them robust, stable and reliable which configure them in the end as good knowledge engines aligned with connective knowledge. Connectivism plays an important role in the development and emergence of new pedagogies, where control is shifting from the teacher to an increasingly more autonomous learner, an explorer. In this new environment, students will search, discover and create information and knowledge by participating and appropriating for themselves tools, technologies and networks.
So the question is, what are the changing roles for educators based on the connectivsm theory ? Educators should be at the same time community leaders, technology stewards and network weavers.
Complexity helps us to understand the multiple interactions of elements of a system that results in particular incomes. So, we should be able to design for adaptability, that is finding ways and patterns for sense making and achieve particular outcome through distributed approaches.
So, what are the roles to be played by an educator in learning complexity? The answer is that an educator should have the same capabilities we may ask to have to anyone that would navigate complexity.
It is not possible to manage a complex system, but to manage much of its environment: probe (explore, make sense, crating disruption o intervening), sense (see what happens with the structure), answer (reflect and design the new probe).
It is not possible to control networks, but to create connections, reinforce good connections, brake connections and reconnect.
Facing networks, what should be the new educator’s role?
1. We should promote educators to make focus on networks, recognize its structure and dynamic and navigate them.
2. Educator should become champions in linking concepts, people, networks and organizations.
3. Educators should manage its own personal network to be able to foster people to be network capable.
It is a very challenging future, for education. In the meanwhile, students may be surpassing some of the networks capabilities of their tutors. This reinforce the need of a urgent focus migration from content to networks.
Kop, Rita and Hill, Adrian. Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?
McCarthy, Helen, Miller, Paul and Skidmore, Paul (ed.). Network logic. Who governs in an interconnected world?