To discuss how my network has changed the way I learn, I must first talk about study habits from my first time around in college – which was almost twenty years ago! Back then, I would study for a test by doing countless exercises and write out formulae over and over again so that I could memorize them. I spent a lot of my time in the brick and mortar library researching a specific topic and not paying much attention to side topics because I just did not have the time. I went to class, listened to the lecture, studied alone and did not have much of a network. In a nutshell, I was studying solely to pass the class. This was classic behaviorism where I was concerned only with what I needed to know and not using any cognitive skills to look deeper into the content (McLeod, n.d.).
Now consider my current study habits. I know the overall broad topic we are studying and address it in assignments instead of just trying to complete the project. I review side topics and take my time to think about their correlation. This drastic change in learning habits is completely due to the network I have been exposed to since those first days of college. Now that I take advantage of a network to study with, I am exposed to so much more information, but I have the opportunity to benefit from the research of all my classmates and decide what information I would like to delve into further. This is a prime example of connectivism where “information abundance requires that we offload our cognitive capacity onto a network of people and technology” (Siemens, 2010).
The change in technology must also be considered while discussing the change in how I learn. Previously, I had to spend large amounts of time in the library, first researching what sources I should use, and then actually reading and selecting information from them. Also, since the research itself was so time-consuming and personal, entering into a discussion with others about the content was not much of an option. I did not use the internet because it took too long to download information, which was scant at best. Things have certainly changed. Now, through the internet, I can access research papers and discuss their content with others through blog sites or forums. When I have a question, I can email a fellow student, or look up that topic on the internet. I learn more this way because I am actively seeking answers to my questions and not just trying to fulfill the class requirements. This demonstrates that “cognitive development” (Ormrod, 2010) is spread across “networks of human beings, technological devices, and other ends” (Ormrod, 2010) and demonstrates how I use my network and technology to learn. This combination of human and machine interaction qualifies as a “complex environment” (Siemens, 2010) and benefiting from this environment is also in line with connectivism.
McLeod, G. n.d. “Learning Theory and Instructional Design” Retrieved December 5, 2010 from http://courses.durhamtech.edu/tlc/www/html/Resources/learningmatters/learningtheory.pdf
Ormrod, J. 2010 “Theory of Social Cognitive Development” retrieved December 5, 2010 from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/53036/CRS-CW-4603373/Transcripts/EDUC6115_04_Transcript.doc
Siemens, G. “Connectivism” [Transcript]. Retrieved November 30, 2010 from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/53036/CRS-CW-4603373/Transcripts/EDUC6115_05_Transcript.doc