How connectivism facilitates my learning
I strongly believe people learn through variety of networks. According to my own mind map, I can understand that how I have benefited by social networks since my childhood. In my childhood, we did not have on-line networks like what we have nowadays. However, most of the features like cultural values, team working, knowledge sharing and listen to others were inculcated in our minds even by the off-line networks which I truly participated in. My mind map shows how I have changed my learning style. Now I use both types of networks for my learning. Some of them are on-line and the rest are off-line.
Thinking about the digital tools, which were facilitated in my learning, let me describe my usage of computers. In 1981, I was exposed to use computers as I did a computer course related to BASIC language. Those days, I got hands on experience with computers for a limited time. We had face to face sessions and the only digital tool we used was the computer (PC). Though dot matrix printers were located in the laboratory we were not permitted to get printouts. In 1987, I was appointed to my present workplace (NIE) and I had a chance to use PCs with dot matrix printers and Apple Macs with scanners and a laser printer. We used PC computers mostly for applications like Wordstar 2000 for word processing, Lotus 123 for spreadsheets and dBASE III+ for data base applications. Apple Mac was used for our desktop publishing work.
I had a chance to use multi-media computers in 1990s as I followed a short-term course in a local university. There we were exposed to use various software tools for material development including authoring systems. However, we did not get any experience related to the Internet usage.
I had a turning point in my learning style in 1997, as I went to New Zealand for my master’s degree. I used the Internet and its services including on-line libraries for information searching for my research work. I did an on-line survey related to ICT usage for professional development. Therefore, I used e-mail communication and text based chatting to collect data from my on-line participants. At the same time, I got another opportunity to assist my wife, as she did a course on computer assisted language learning (CALL). In CALL, they had a discussion group very similar to our present discussion group. That group was created with Eudora mail software and I assisted her to configure our home computer with the university’s server computer. The experiences I got from New Zealand were used to initiate a CALL component to the Dip. TESL course that we currently conduct in our own institutes (NIE). We do not use any LMS software but we use facilities given by Google to create discussion groups. As we experience some limitations, I think we need to shift for a LMS like MOODLE in future. My participation in this ID course at Walden University encourages me to shift for a good cost effective LMS for our institute.
When seeking for new things, it is natural that we all face questions, issues and barriers. Normally, I think these are challenges for any person. There must be an answer to any question or issue. Sometimes, I may not able to solve it by myself at once. So, I use various types of tools available in the Internet, especially Web 2.0/3.0 tools. I use search engines like Google or Askme to get information. I post my questions to blogs and groups where I have already subscribed or search for new ones. Sometimes I use Skype or Google Talk to communicate with my friends dispersed all over the world to clarify the issues. I search on-line databases like ERIC or Google Scholar to get abstracts or journal articles to update my knowledge. I frequently use “howstuffworks.com “ and various Wiki sites to read computer-related information.