Irmeli Aro #moodleMOOCs throughout the Summer 2013

#CCK09 Passing the next starting line of sharing learning connectivism :)

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The following picture visualizes well how the beginning of learning connectivism feels for the learner. The traditional learning skills focus on affecting / curing / caring for the visible part – whether we call it a problem, need, opportunity, chance, dilemma… When learning the traditional way – nothing changes, nothing new really happens after the official learning part ends.


The original Finnish text of the above picture says: “Well, that one will be easy to tear up…” (It visualizes corruption, but according to my current experience of and competence on learning, it forms a suitable metaphor for connectivism – and (trans)cultural learning in general! – as well. Connectivism is special because the start-up phase grubs the soil, even digs in the ground deep enough in order to begin to make the rootstock visible. Because the rootstock has been unvisible for year and years – learned without reflection, never unlearned – the start-up phase boosts feelings of learning like: Disorienting dilemma, cognitive overload, complete chaos… What is good and even unique in this process is that it really boosts conscious unlearnng; revealing great fresh new soil for – LEARNING!!! This is how and why connectivism is the means of (organizational) learning for this and the next decades.

After having lived the chaos learning for a year and really feeling full of collaborative energy when now passing the treshold to next challenges – what has brought me here and brought me all the energy is the amazing network of co-learners who have gatherer around me. Without you nothing of this personal learning process would have been possible. Thank you. Every one of you. From the bottom of my heart.

As a concluson of my personal learning experience so far: The connective theory is lifewide, holistic and transformative. It demands giving your everything. But because the connective learning process boosts network processes, the mutual benefits get multiplied compared to the amount an invidual gives and shares, aids and cares.

Much, much more difficult and demanding than diving into the connective theory has been learning a completely new way of studying –> working –> living by shared learning. Adopting applications like WordPress, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa, Facebook… – I would say – is less than 5% of the whole needed to be learned prior to being able to begin to put connectivism into practice. More than 95% of the learning consists of the 21st century competences of shared learning.What has been most new and different from all studying, working… cultures I’ve experinced before is that in a connective context there’s always someone to help you! Reaching this point needs conscious effort on working on your competence on critisism and openness, enthusiasm and fears, diving deep and being cautious… That’s why it takes more than 95% of your learning – in the beginning. These are skills and competences needing repeated practice and unlearning – something that never has been recognized in the cultures I’ve experienced before.

The above A-HA experience is my lead idea in front of Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Course CCK09 –> distributing this knowledge in practice – and beginning within my own closest culture and surroundings. This month will be time of gathering key themes learned so far – for deepening and sharing them during CCK09. Having reached this point feels very good. Looking forward to meeting all of you – old and new CCK fellow learners :).

(Source of the picture: Photographed from Finnish Newspaper Länsiväylä, August 1-2, 2009 issue, page 14. The drawer uses alias ‘JOKE’.)


Written by Irmeli Aro

August 3, 2009 at 11:56 am

Sharing my spirit of preparing for the New Year

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May we learn to reflect new occasions back to our network members and nodes of knowledge in unexpected and surprising ways – to learn to see the light changing, transforming, emerging happiness…

All the best for the New Year 2009!!


“Changing Light” by Kaija Saariaho:

Written by Irmeli Aro

December 29, 2008 at 12:13 pm

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CCK08 Understanding Self (Connective Behaviour in Practice, Part 1/8)

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The theme of the beginning new week 9 of the CCK08 Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course is: “What becomes of the Teacher – New Roles for Educators”.

According to the Learnscape Sandbox Team: “Curriculum-free, interactive and self-service learning is the way of the future: Ecologies where work and learning are one and the same, where people help one another build competency and master new crafts, where members of self-sustaining communities of professionals participate because they take pride in maintaining their standards and doing a great job, and where everyone strives to be all she can be. Open, participative, bottom-up, networked, flexible and responsive learning –  that’s what we’re after.”

Dave Pollard has collected a comprehensive list from the contents of his blog posts perceiving answers to the question: “In a world with a billion people online, connected in multiple and unfathomably complex ways, how do you find, and then connect, with just the right people to do what you need to do:

1 ) Know yourself well, so you really know what you’re looking for in a partner (in enterprise, in community, or whatever). You can’t find the right people until you know what you’re looking for. 2 ) Get attention by saying or doing something important or interesting. Articulate an unrecognized need or a creative idea or a provocative possibility or an intriguing offer. Do something bold and imaginative. Make something truly novel that the world needs (a prototype will do). This is not easy, but if you can get people’s attention, you are more likely to have the people you need to find, seek you out and connect with you. 3 ) Craft an invitation. Write up something compelling and send it out to as many people as possible, asking them to forward it to others. The people who accept your invitation will be the right people. 4 ) Get out there and have a lot of conversations and collaborations. Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. So join groups that will expose you to people with common interests, and converse and work with their members. The more people you talk with, seriously, about things that matter to you, the more people you are likely to find who share your passions and your purpose — the people you are meant to make a life or a living with, or just work together with on an important project. 5 ) Be loving and generous. Great collaborations and partnerships have great chemistry. Open yourself up to that chemistry, and let others know you are open to it. 6 ) Be attentive. The people who can make a difference in your life, on your project, and in the world are often not the people you would expect. Listen, watch, feel what’s being felt but not said, draw people out. 7 ) Seek diversity. The wisdom of crowds demands diverse perspectives, ideas, ways of thinking. Echo chambers are terrible places to generate new ideas and ways of thinking. 8 ) Draw on the strength of weak links. The people you seek may well be two or three degrees of separation from the people in your immediate networks. Ask the people you know who they know that fit what you’re looking for.

Thank you Dave for providing me a frame of reference for the last third of the CCK08 course! This post begins a series of blog posts describing in practice, how I have changed my thinking in order to learn a connective way of behaving i.e. experiencing a transformation into a connective person. During the remaining four weeks of the CCK08 course I’ll create two posts a week, following the above procedure (1-8) listed by Dave – this first post is dealing with 1 ) “Know yourself well”.

According to Saarinen & Hämäläinen (2004, 13) the change required when learning e.g. the modeling of complex systems as well as the mathematical models of decision making, competition and cooperation consists of the following four dimensions: Mental change => Perceptual change => Individual behavioural change => Change in the system. Here’s how I see my mental change towards a connective personality illustrated in seven pictures.

Picture 1: May 2004

As a part of an assignment belonging to my studies of natural resources, I was asked to illustrate my favourite landscape. I chose a picture from North Norway – like the above one I found in VirtualTourist today – and added some Indian wisdom: Among all tribes of our people there’s a learning according to which it’s essential to find a quiet place – in the middle of bare mountains, in the desert or by the see in order to increase understanding of the direction of the creation. We are all aware of the power of the prayer strengthening our senses, the fast, sweating and other meditative ways which help us become pure and prepare the spirit and soul to hear the voice of the holy secret. (Akwesasne – I only found this in Finnish, the translation is my free interpreting).

Picture 2: October 2006

I became conscious of this phenomenon – how my current competence to learn can be put in form of a picture in my mind – when I was writing the first draft of my Bachelor’s Thesis. This happened almost two and a half years after having completed the above mentioned assignment – which was the first of a kind, when I was asked to prune my thinking with help of choosing a picture. This second time was not connected to any actual assignment. I was collecting source material regarding transformative learning. I was reflecting ideas of how creating a multi-cultural learning environment is like building a bridge – how it really resembles a true complicated constructing process of an actual bridge. I could see a clear visual image of my favourite landscape – a scenery – in my mind. It was full of children of different ethnic backgrounds. It was full of voices and laughter. This picture, advertising Multicultural Literature, hits very close.

Picture 3: July 2007

I was finalizing the above mentioned Bachelor’s Thesis. I was reflecting my experience of transformation: I was beginning to perceive that my learning consists of repeated processes of externalizing the changes I experience when I through learning increase  my cultural self-awareness. I attached the above picture in one of the last chapters of my thesis. The text was as follows: “I see the current phase of my learning to be like the bridge in the attached picture. I’m about to reach the other coast. My next learning cycles will not only reveal the landscape itself, but also show how my transformative learning journey did change the scenery.”

Picture 4: September 2007

As the first assignment of a new semester I was asked to describe how the beginning of my current Master’s studies will enhance my career prospects. This is what I wrote: “I’ve got a lot of ideas under construction for how to proceed after the take-off. I’ve learned though – know out of my own experience – that the best results in learning and life are achieved by giving coincidences a change. The attached picture represents one of my favorite paintings “Green Square on the left” by Ahti Lavonen (1968), EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art. My learning and life are like in the green square. I’m moving clock-wise. The ground is stable – but full of fascinating, still unrevealed opportunities.

Picture 5: August 2008

I was visiting the EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art again. When seeing this piece of art – it immediately hit my mind: This is how my learning currently looks like. And that’s how it was like during the first third of the CCK08 course. I was trying to figure it out. I was trying so hard.

Picture 6: October 2008

I experienced a same kind of hitting when seeing this picture – a bridge again – in Stephen’s Flickr Photo Stream. That’s how my learning was throughout the second third of the CCK08 course. The speed was up. High up. This was already my sixth phase of transformative learning. I was – more or less.. – constantly able to keep the faith that the speed will slow down and a new landscape and a scenery will be revealed.

Picture 7: Beginning of November 2008

The current picture of my learning in my mind is perfectly illustrated by the Networked Teacher Diagram created by Alec Couros – I’ll continue sharing my learning with the CCK08 blogging community.

Written by Irmeli Aro

November 3, 2008 at 1:52 am

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CCK08 Recovering from a writer’s block

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“Writer’s block, we might say, occurs when the authorial ear – that inner voice of ours that brings forth words – is stopped or jammed. Something is needed to help that voice begin speaking again.” Montgomery (2003, 31-33) suggests e.g. the following practical methods.

1) Read older literature in your field – let’s say from 100 years ago

“Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes. To improve learning in higher education, the primary focus should be on engaging students in a process that best enhances their learning – a process that includes feedback on the effectiveness of their learning efforts. …education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience: … the process and goal of education are one and the same thing.” (Dewey 1897, 79) (Kolb & Kolb 2008, 4)

2) Read through selected passages on topics as similar to your own as you can find

I’m finding my passage out of the writer’s block by reading, reflecting and pruning: Naive Metaphysics, A Theory of subjective and objective Worlds (Klempner 1994, 7): “We have been seeking a way in which each of us can grasp our relation to the world as a whole; and we have discovered that neither the subjective nor the objective standpoint alone is adequate. Each standpoint misses out something that only the other can supply. Now the first, most natural response to this difficulty is to try to locate the common ground, to work out a compromise between the two standpoints. This might seem easy. If I wish to tell the whole truth about my relation to the world, then why not simply combine together the two standpoints, in the way that a novelist might tell a story, first from the point of view of the main protagonist, and then from the imaginary point of view of an all-seeing observer? Surely, once that is done, there is no further story to tell?

On closer examination, however, this analogy appears fatally flawed. In the novel, the full story is the one which would result if the novelist granted the all-seeing observer access to each character’s thoughts and feelings. The objective standpoint from which no-one is picked out for special treatment does indeed give the whole truth. The crucial difference between the novel and the account of my relation to the world is that in my case one of the characters in the story is myself. And we have already seen that the objective standpoint cannot accommodate what appears to me as the special, incommunicable meaning of my existence for myself, the thisness of my experience.”

3) Return to a past article of your own – on a subject not too distant from the one you’re working on

I see the stage where I got stuck by the writer’s block to be the beginning of pruning the CCK08 concept maps. My natural learning style makes me produce the end result of my learning goals in the beginning of any course. I’ve several times experienced this to be VERY beneficial. One’s I survive the beginning – the rest of the course or the learning phase in general is – like letting loose… Kind of gathering, picking up the peaces I placed along the path of my learning during the start-up phase. I’ve consciously tried to off-learn this manner. It really truly increases innovativeness, productivity and creativity of my learning process to leave something – actually to learn to leave a lot – to be discovered during the last steps. Not kind of deciding in advance what the end result of my learning is going to be!!

However CCK08 caused such a brainstorm – I could not handle or manage it without returning to my most natural learning style, meaning beginning from the end and then kind of filling in the learning map (read: concept map) I created with all the contents belonging to completing the ongoing CCK08 course.

This is when I got stuck. My blog has remained silent for over three weeks. I’ve felt confused, even frustrated when not having been able to get unstuck. I was motivated to think hard though. CCK08 co-learner Keith expressed the source of the power of my motivation in his blog post of CCK08 week 5: “I have tried to read as many blogs as possible and am staggered by the richness of what people are doing. I have not experienced such a focused creative incandescence before.” Neither have I. I absolutely wanted to continue this unique and rewarding learning experience.

My key thought became: Instead of heavy pruning – focus on unpruning. Letting the concept maps be for a while. Concetrating in writing. One topic at a time. Taking my time. I combine completing the above mentioned “Getting Unstuck List” by Montgomery and starting unprunig by reading and re-reflecting my one year old essay for my next CCK08 blog post. I re-named my essay: “Pre-connective Thoughts”. For now – here it is totally unpruned as I gathered my thoughts of the learning chain transformative -> emergent -> authentic when studying the last Module of ELECTRA Global Online Course for Intercultural Understanding: The pre-connective-thoughts by Irmeli Aro (2007). I feel very relieved to be back.

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October 31, 2008 at 12:20 am

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CCK08 Short Paper #1 – Seeking convergence and multiculturalism in learning and management

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According to Siemens (2005) connective decision-making is a learning process. “While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.” My CCK08 co-learner Dave provides a great list of characteristics of connective people: “The world needs these revolutionary facilitators, these artful hosts, and thousands, millions more like them, self-organizing, connecting, smashing learned helplessness, corpocracy, hierarchy, bureaucracy, and inertia.” Another co-learner Ton introduces the 1st International Workshop on Personal Knowledge Management in his blog. 2nd Workshop on the Convergence of Knowledge Management and E-Learning organized by the conference states: “Convergence is one of the main trends of this decade: Systems, technologies are merged or developed in a common direction“.

The objective of CCK08 is to acquire connective knowledge by experiencing connectivism in form of participating the course i.e. learning in a connective way. My CCK08 co-learner Sui Fai John Mak writes in a CCK08 Moodle discussion thread: “I am starting to realise that each of us interpret the definition, concept of connectivism, connective knowledge differently“. The way I chose is to evaluate my own learning process througout the course and as the Final Project of the course I’ll collect my evaluation in form of a practical taxonomy, which I’ll then further test in a case study belonging to my Master’s Thesis on Industrial Management.

We are experiencing a revolutionary effect caused by the expanding use of digital tools and networks. The meaning of it is as huge as was the expansion of the use of mechanical technology. Virtual social networks surround us with and exponentially increasing speed. The choice is ours – whether we are active or passive members of the networks. It’s as well up to ourselves to choose in which networks we are active, developing, productive and empowering members. The networks keep existing and expanding with or without our personal input. By participating CCK08 we are sharing and increasing our cultural understanding and awareness of requirements and prerequisites for learning and working in the digital age. This increases multiculturalism and inter-cultural relations.

I quote an essay I wrote when participating ELECTRA – Global Online Course for Intercultural Understanding in 2006: “The best definition I’ve found for culture is by Prof. Jaakko Lehtonen from University of Jyväskylä, Finland (2003): “Culture is a continuous interaction between the ideas in the heads of people and their actual behaviours. Within our culture we do what we do because we have acquired the knowledge that this is the right or normal way to do things. At the same time, behaving in a certain way makes existing rules stronger or gives birth to new cultural rules.” What I think should more be included in both teacher and business training, is the reflection beginning from one’s own closest surroundings and experiences. What is most right and normal for me? How do I behave due to that? Step by step we learn to recognize the reasons behind culturally diverse others’ behaviour. And we learn to act according to what is best for the whole group in which we have impact. This can also be expressed as the difference between pluralism and multiculturalism – culturally diverse groups, in addition to having the right to exist and develop, must as well head for learning to form a common societal goal.”

The above mentioned essay was a continuation to my previous essay comparing learning philosophies of Finland, Great Britain and India: “Pluralism was emphasized in the Finnish and British frameworks. India’s approach is aiming at a multicultural society. Unlike pluralism, which points to the amicable co-existence of cultures, multiculturalism makes a value statement – it asserts that the many cultural communities that are present in a society must live as equals in the public domain. It speaks of differentiated citizenship with group differentiated rights. Multiculturalism mistrusts the pursuit of uniformity because it is usually a way of establishing the hegemony of the majority community. Multiculturalism grants positive value to the collective identities of all ethnic communities. People are included in the nation state as members of diverse but equal ethnic groups.”

CCK08 is the current step on my ladder of personal learning towards finding convergence and multiculturalism in learning and management.

Non-linked source:
Lehtonen, J. 2003. Globalization, national Cultures and the Paradox of intercultural Competence. In Holm, H. G. & Quiros-Schauman J. (eds) Intercultural Communication – Past and Future. Åbo Akademi University, 141.

Written by Irmeli Aro

October 7, 2008 at 1:02 pm

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CCK08 Concept map of week 4 from the point of view of ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR

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My interest in participating the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course CCK08 is to learn to utilize connectivism in practice in organizational development, entrepreneurial training and innovation management. With reflection to this I’ve highlighted the content of my concept map published in my prevoius blog post (Oct. 01) from the point of view of how I proceed in an innovative organization – business, service or production:

The iterative process according to which I’ve practiced to proceed whatever is or will become necessary to be accomplished in organizations where I act, is hishlighted with an orange shadow. What I consider a key issue is that the phase of “making real development models and theories used in organizations where I act” is the phase number fourteen in this process of personal development. Before becoming a motivated and productive member of an organization making real and bringing into action the next phase “making real targets ans sustainable development” – there are thirteen previous phases which need to be taken into account, re-reflected and choices made accordingly.

The process phases hihglighted with an orange shadow illustrate my way of acting as a mentor, tutor and learner i.e. sharing my own learning process. The cornerstones of this process lean on my personal social, cultural and intellectual heritage. My co-learner Tom tweeted early this morning (late evening his time): “We are not natives or immigrants, true network learners go with the flow, find the info and move on, like traditional nomads…” This link shows Tom’s blog post on digital nomadism.

From my personal point of view – connectivism would be useless for me without previously having acquired and taken into action the conscious process of self-development, which also is called life-long and life-wide learning. As strongly – the process based on my social, cultural and intellectual heritage is not valid any more as such. I need the ways of action and tools provided by acquiring connective knowledge not only to survive but also to learn to become and act as a participating and empowering inhabitant of the global network of the virtual and social camps established by other digital nomads.

When comparing us digital nomads with the traditional nomads – the most significant difference is us completely lacking the tradition. We – like the traditional nomads – cannot reason our choises according to the way everything has been for generation after generation. I see the most important meaning and function of the development of connectivism and connective knowledge – eg. by participating CCK08 – to be that we are collaboratively creating and testing the still non-existing tradition of how to manage learning through the digital age – to at present and towards 2050 share the knowledge we aquire with our new fellow inhabitants entering our global digital camps.

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October 3, 2008 at 1:46 pm

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CCK08 Concept map of week 4: My position on connectivism

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The following concept map illustrates my current position on connectivism. I’ll add both outer links and my own reflection to the next versions of my connectivism concept maps.

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October 1, 2008 at 7:06 pm

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