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?

You might also like:
What can connectivism do for me

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. Your source and definitions for Group are the typical ones I've heard and read as well. But I found the definitions by Anderson, Downes and Siemens to be different. I personally agree with the Siemens definition ( or at least my understanding of it). The first ( morning) presentation by Terry Anderson is a great summary of the three views. I posted my notes on my blog here: http:/ but others have as well with some great concept maps. If you are taking the course for credit "check them out.". :)

Natasa said...

Thank you for your prompt reply. I am sorry if I have been talking about something everybody already knows, but that's what being a teacher for 18 years does to you - you start explaining the obvious. My blog post was simply a reaction to "Groups require unity, networks require diversity. Groups require coherence, networks require autonomy. Groups require privacy or segregation, networks require openness. Groups require focus of voice, networks require interaction." Though I am generally pro-connectivism, I have to disagree with this. Again, I am speaking from my own, limited experience as a teacher. In the classroom, I have often witnessed the positive, even healing side a group can have on its members.

Saša said...

Hi, Nataša! I'm glad I found you here :-)). Need to check the book you mention. Hugs, Saša

Natasa said...

Hi Saša,
Good to see you too. I relied on Group Dynamics a lot when I was preparing my Power Point presentation on student motivation last spring. The book is a cross between language teaching and psychology and it gave me some insights into what happens in the classroom every day.

Maru del Campo said...

Hi Sis!
I am glad I found your post. I lack the knowledge to say if a group or a network is best for learning, I guess it will depend on the objectives and the context. I see that it is convenient to have very clear the difference when planning an online course.
I am finding hard to work in a network, I do poorly with weak connections, I do not know what to say or what to share when I do not have a bond but that does not prevent me from learning.
See you around.
Poljupci. Maru

Natasa said...

Hi Sis,
What a coincidence - I was reading your blog earlier this evening. I find it very clear and informative.
I also have a problem learning in a large, impersonal network such as this one, but that wasn't my objection here. Networks are a great thing and you know I am a keen lifelong learner and that I am an Internet junkie. I am just afraid that if we suddenly decide that groups as learning environments are uncool we'll be throwing out the baby with the bath water. What's strange here is that I, of all people, should be defending groups. I have never been much of a group person.

Mrs. D said...

I just wanted to stop by and welcome you to the 31 Day Challenge. I'm glad you joined us!


Magical Bill said...

Hi Natasa,

Look forward to blogging with you during the 31 days.

Regards, Bill Oldham

Natasa said...

Hi Bill,
Thanks for your support. It is easier to do this in a team.
I have just sent you an email (assignment number one). This is the first time I have ever sent an email to someone who has posted a comment in my blog.
Looking forward to learning with you

Natasa said...

Hi Lisa,

Thank you.



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