Saturday, 11 October 2008

CCK08 - Groups and Networks

I have been a really bad student lately. I have missed too many live meetings, skipped too many readings and I haven't been blogging for a long time. True, I had a problem with Technorati - they didn't update my posts regularly and I only realised that when I couldn't find my latest post under CCK08.
I have resolved my problems with Technorati now (or so I hope) and I am ready to blog again. Plus, I would really like to sink my teeth into the groups and networks issue. I have recently read Group Dynamics in the Language Classroom by Zoltan Dornyei and Tim Murphey. I loved the book and I must admit I have been using some of the techniques to better manage my classes.
The book argues that a coherent group is considered to be a good thing in the classroom. It raises student motivation and helps resolve discipline issues. It is all about cooperation and focusing on the common goal - in this case learning.
Of course, the learning context is completely different on the Internet. I guess what we have in CCK08 is not a group, but a network - over 2000 people who don't know each other at all, but are willing to learn from each other and discuss different issues. This is great for introverts like myself, who don't need to belong in order to learn. Yet, this way of learning might be too aloof for some people.
Groups go through four stages of formation before they become coherent: Norming, Storming, Forming and Performing. Observing our CCK08 network, I can see there is a lot of norming going on (what exactly is connectivism, what is the difference between networks and groups, etc.). I can also see a lot of storming, but I'd rather not go into that. So, what if a network is a group which got stuck in the norming stage? If this is the case, how do we stop networks from evolving into groups? And is it always a good idea to do so?

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