Sunday, October 10

PLE, PLN and Learning Theories

Apple, Orange Or A Real 'Lemon' ?

As I see it, the greatest hindrance to comparing theories is that there is no universally accepted definition of any of them. As with the PLN/PLE debate, it appears to boil down to 'scholarly' opinion. And what is quite unnerving to the student, if 'academics' disagree after studying a theory in great depth, what sense of clarity are the 'others' expected to achieve.

Firstly why do so many theories begin with "C" ? If I was going to submit evidence to test and support an hypothesis hoping it would become a theory at some stage, I certainly wouldn't give it a title which began with "C". Connectivism, Constructivism, Constructionism, Cognitivism. Perhaps something with "Z" or "X" would make it easier to remember. However I can't think of one which suits so I'll go with the 'C' bandwagon and suggest 'Complexitism'. Humans are too complex to be pigeonholed according to any criteria which has a cognitive functioning component. If its so clear, why so varied ?

Theories have their place - I enjoy reading about them, however I act according to my intuitive barometer. As simply a plausible explanation for a certain phenomenon, theories are great for contemplating, critically appraising or tasting. Their value lies in facilitating discussion and refinement of strategies which is the toolbox of the educator. I don't rally behind the banner of any one exclusively. Our ability as educators to critically evaluate learning theories is limited to a great extent by the degree of 'at the chalkface' experience. I look to my experience over 35 years of teaching and modify my approach according to my analysis of learner needs. I believe there are disadvantages in attaching pedagogical practice to the bandwagon of any one theory. Experience is the most humbling of teachers. If one accepts the concept of 'individual differences' there can be no justification in placing 'all the eggs in one basket'.

An interesting comparison of some of the main theories from Ailsa's blog - CCK11 meets ANT
"....Adapted from a table George Siemens has on learning theories in week 1 readings, but with an additional column expanding on connectivism to consider actor-network theory...."

Still refining my thoughts on this one !

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