It’s winter. I hate the cold and the grayness of it all. I hunker down and hide out from the blahness of it all. I become a hermit. And for those who know me personally, they know that THAT is the exact opposite of who/where I like to be. I’m a chatty-Cathy-sunshine-flip flops-cycling-beach kind of girl who just happens to be a bit of a tech geek as well.
When the weather closes in on me like this, I find that I reach out virtually a lot more. I connect with new friends on Facebook, I look for new people to follow on Twitter, and I find blogs – reading and leaving comments more often, as well. In general, I grow my personal network in the cold months. In simplest of terms, I think this is what Stephen Downes (2008) is describing as knowledge formation in his explanation of “What is Connectivism?” in this Ustream video shared in the #CCK11 MOOC which started Monday. It’s being facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes.
For me, when an idea seems complex, the simplest way to conceptualize it is to associate it with something I already understand. Back in high school, we watched a couple of films about the brain, and with cartoon animation simplicity, the concept of neural pathway formation was explained. As Downes described Connectivism, images from those old films popped unbidden into my head.
It makes sense though – Connectivism is about growing the number of interactions between two nodes which creates connections. In the brain, more neural pathways means increased potential for learning. The more those pathways are used, the easier a skill may seem (like riding a bike or driving – both are difficult at first, but subconsciously easy after practice).
So, what does all this mean to me…hiding inside on this 36 degree, dreary winter day? It means it’s time to connect both digitally, which I’ve done here, and physically, which I’ll be doing as soon as I tie my tennis shoes and head to the gym. I’m not sure if this is exactly the types of connections Siemens and Downes have in mind, but this end user needs both.