Thursday, January 20, 2011

Familiar ground

Put someone in a stressful work environment and they will retreat to the things they know well and things which worked in the past. We know student teachers often turn to "stand and deliver" teaching methods after a few weeks of student teaching because they are overwhelmed, anxious, becoming exhausted etc. If Vygotsky were observing them he would likely say they were beyond their zone of proximal development. Others might say they returned to their security blanket. I'll call it... familiar ground.

I only mention the V-man because I have been beyond my zone of proximal development (ZPD) in CCK11 so far. ZPD is a fancy way of describing the area between being too comfortable (and bored) and being pushed too far (and therefore too stressed to learn). Inside the zone between bored and stressed is the edge of chaos (or educhaos as my friend Lisa Chamberlin calls it) where we learn. I believe in this because I have a) experienced, b) seen it, and c) utilized this knowledge to adjust the learning environment for bored/stressed students.

Trying to understand connectivism sent me outside my ZPD and down the rabbit hole. To climb back out I returned to familiar ground, searching for resources. Work and life continually have me looking for information, research, people, etc. who can help me. I see now that I make connections to get answers and further my understandings. And I can only do this inside my ZPD.

Today's searching brought me to the blog role for CCK11 where I selected about 10 new blogs to follow. My choices included people new to blogging and connectivism, those who seem to 'get it', people outside the USA and people in fields related to but different from my higher education role. Again, these are connections, or potential connections, to grow my understanding.

I also returned to two videos which make me laugh and make me think -- two of my favorite things!! Both are TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson. With my newfound interest in connectivism I heard his messages just a little differently this time. I made different connections with his themes. Schools kill creativity video --> The follow-up Bring on the Learning Revolution video

My ignorance and confusion about connectivism are still in abundance but returning to familiar ground has allowed me to learn a little, just a little, more today.


  1. Hi Kay - I found the same thing on the PLENK course in the Autumn - with the endless possibilities for interaction and artefacts to engage with - and the depth of the new ideas - we can easily overwhelm ourselves and end up 'bowing out'. I really regretted this last time and have a strategy for CCK11 - if I find my head starts spinning, just remind myself of my own intended learning outcomes, go back to the central resources and reflect on their relevance to *my* LOs.

    We got a 'drinkaware' leaflet through the door the other day - an alcohol awareness thing from the NHS - they recommended if you're concerned about your drinking getting out of control, set yourself a limit for the number of drinks you're going to have BEFORE you go out - and stick to it. I think that's a great strategy for the MOOC - set yourself a limit for the number of participants' blogs you're going to read and comment on that week, and then stick to it :-D


  2. Great advice Lindsay! What are your learning goals for CCK11, just out of curiosity? I joined mostly out of curiosity and a need to keep myself on the cutting edge of online learning. I am not sure those are worthy goals. Part of my confusion may lie in my lack of intended learning outcomes?