CCK08 – The exclamation mark and the asterisk

The exclamation mark and the asterisk: in the middle of the night this analogy came to my mind when I was thinking about groups and networks. After reading Stephen Downes’ “That Group feeling“, I’ve been considering the groups I’ve belonged to and the emotions related to them.

Groups to me are like the exclamation mark in written language. An exclamation mark emphasizes emotions, underlines passion, the sense of belonging, it closes a sentence and sets the boundaries.

Compare its assertiveness with the “openness” of the asterisk often used as a wildcard character, when we search files  *.*

Like networks, the asterisk for me symbolizes openness, creativity, imagination and diversity: I’ve followed with interest the thread Passion versus reason in our Moodle forum.

 I’ve just read Wendy’s post and appreciated her clear image about groups and networks. 

As an educator, I feel the need to cultivate team spirit in class not neglecting, however, a more powerful resource for the 21st century learners: a network of different connected people.  Still reflecting on the best ways to implement it… 


CCK08 – The diapason, the iceberg and the learner

diapason – by Wollschaf – Wikimedia


Some contents of this course keep resonating like a musical note in my skull, even after some time I’ve read about them.

With this acoustic analogy in mind, I’ll reflect on fragments taken from the “Daily”, from some readings and from other bloggers’ posts.

I felt encouraged by what Siemens wrote some Dailies ago:

In a networked model of learning, how does the learning actually occur? … it occurs as we struggle to make sense of our world. As we filter information. As we create content and engage with others. Traditionally, education has provided much of the filtering work for us through the bounded information structures provided by instructors/faculty. What happens when that is under our control too? (colours are mine)


Processes (like making sense, filtering, creating and engaging with others by reading/writing) require time and time management is one of the obstacles of adult “online” learning. (I started reading a handbook on time management and I’m still at page 25 because I haven’t learnt how to find time to finish it, yet! :-))

I’m aware that I need time to explore my learning processes and I’ve accepted the mini-frustrations of feeling a little behind with the assignments (no posts on week-3 topic!).

I read the post by Claire on dropping out and it led me to another reflection: the iceberg metaphor.


photo by  Ludovic Hirlimann

photo by ludovic hirlimann

I think that we (teachers) feel frustrated and on the verge of dropping out because we are focusing on the “top” of the iceberg: in traditional learning this means what we (or our students) “produce“.

In our course on connectivism a sense of discomfort assails us if we don’t write posts or comments or  draw C- maps.  But I felt relieved yesterday when I remembered an idea expressed by John Dewey: that of collateral learning, (a sort of  hidden curriculum,  what cannot be seen). with regard to the formation of enduring attitudes.  We should focus more on the network of our relations and feel less worried by the “productivity” issue.

 As Downes underlines:

…knowledge is distributed across networks (of people, increasingly aided by technology) and that learning is the act and process of forming and navigating networks. 

This reconnects my thoughts with what Sinikka expressed (in her enviable English)   about students’ productivity  in online activities, when she tried to create a network for her intercultural projects.  She was frustrated by the reactions of her students and I felt the same once when I used Moodle with a class. 

I think we should consider the collateral learning of using  socialnetworking tools at school, and after this course we will be aware of other aspects. So…let’s look under the surface!


CCK08 – Irises



A field full of irises! How relaxing!  

Nobody would imagine what is happening underground: a chaotic, messy, intricated net of shoots, nodes, roots. I still remember the sense of disappointement that time when I uprooted a small flowerbed full of irises.  Nothing comparable with safe, full, intact tulip bulbs! Self-contained!

With this gardening analogy in mind, I started reading about the rhizomatic knowledge. At first the concept makes you feel not at ease. Maybe because we have been considering knowledge as something detached, separate like those single bulbs, with very short roots.

The idea of rhizomatic knowledge offers new insights that deserve more time for reflection. And it could also be useful to explain the dynamics inside Communities of Practice (traditionally represented instead with concentric or overlapping circles). I’m not an expert in this field and I’d like to explore this aspect in the future.


CCK08 – Rethinking the learning process


In his post yesterday, George Siemens expressed his consideration about the learning process. He focused on 2 levels: the content (the curriculum) and the framework. He underlined, also, the special nature of our course: it lacks a structured framework and this could generate some sense of discomfort (to use his words).


The image shows an over-simplified picture of what I’m expecting from the Course.   As I stated in my introduction on  the Moodle forum, I’m interested in this course because it offers chances to apply new learning strategies. As I signed up, I was aware that “content” was not so important for me. I want to explore how I adopt new learning styles in a new framework which encompasses content and people.

I’m not sure I will succeed, but I will reflect on the process.

Morevoer, what I’m going to learn will also have a direct consequence on the way I’m going to teach in the next years. What’s the teacher’s role, then? It’s not just providing “content” (subject matter), but also to enable each learner to make a personal framework, but… am I anticipating Week 9 discussion?

I’ve appreciated Sinikka’s post  on using Ning with her students. Sometimes our efforts to innovate could result in disappointment. I’m sure we will learn a lot more in the weeks to come. 


Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova



One of the most interesting museums I’ve ever visited is in Turku. I’ve just read  read Sinikka’s profile in the participant list,  and I’ve immediately “connected” her town Turku, with my previous factual knowledge and I remembered the museum.

I refer to Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova. In the same building there is a medieval part, underground, and, on top of it, a modern art museum. 3 years ago I enjoyed the visit very much.

Now, reflecting on the course, it’s curious: that Museum could be the metaphor of  my personal and professional status!

I suppose all teachers of my age  are in the midst of a “paradigm shift”. We experienced some solid (for us) ways of building knowledge (like medieval walls). Now we are facing new ways of managing our sources of knowledge, some of which may seem unfamiliar, just like some pieces of contemporary art!

CCK08 First connections

(photo by yewenyi)

On the second day of  course activities, I’m reflecting about what is going on.

I like observing what is happening in our Moodle forum and I’m trying to draw some impressions:

some of us are inviting friends living in the same area to take part to the course, (as I did with Italia Castiglione, ) Hakon and Carlos from Reykjavik both received invitation and they’re going to drink a coffee together while discussing on the course… This, in my view, reflects the metaphor of the “little boxes” (see the first week essay by Barry Wellman

Some other people  are looking for guys they already know, who have met before (in real life) or online, belonging to their personal network (as I did with Antonio Fini).  

Some other people are “connecting” to other learners just because they share some common grounds and so are adding new links to their social network, as Sinikka from Finland has done with me!

I think that all this has also to do with learning. I’m fascinating by comparing the dynamics of the forum and the typologies of communities described in the pdf document.

What about your impression?

Let’s connect…

Welcome to the blog related  to the massive course on connectivism and learning!

I’m Laura Colombo (Italy) and in the next few months I’ll be posting here my personal reflections on the theme and sharing comments  with the other participants!

P.s.: The image I’ve chosen as header is inspiring and somehow it carries a metaphorical meaning about the learning experience we are going to live together. Thanks to its author, see the original photo on Flikcr.