Curious? It’s Connectivism. Our school division is embarking on the division-wide work of focusing on instructional excellence. The learning theory, Connectivism, provides a framework that supports the goals and vision of this work. After reading George Siemens: “The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.” (Siemens, 2004), the big picture became crystal clear. I liken this endeavour with my experience at the optometrist. After successfully reading slightly fuzzy letters, the optometrist rotated the lens once. All became perfectly clear. Determining the big picture – the why, what, and how’s of “Nurturing a Culture of Excellence” – is the first step.
One would think that all teachers would embrace the nurturing a culture of instructional excellence without question, but I was shocked to discover this is not the case. I was surprised to hear a very experienced teacher take offense to the very idea of nurturing instructional excellence. Perhaps she felt the implication was teachers in our division are only good teachers. I wish she could read Siemens (2004) when he says, “Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.” Knowing that teaching is the single greatest impact on student learning – is that not enough of a motivator to actuate powerful teaching practices?
One must understand the ‘big picture’ in order to understand where one is going. The connection between an organization as a learning organism and instructional excellence will translate into an intricate web of professional development, tools to share and communicate learning and ideas (i.e.: Twitter, reflective blogs), peer feedback and reflection. In-depth understanding of such a complex concept requires a variety of supports to meet the professional learning needs of individuals within the context of the organization. The very social nature of learning is well-suited to an organization working to connect on different levels and share learning. “Knowledge flow can be likened to a river that meanders through the ecology of an organization. In certain areas, the river pools and in other areas it ebbs.” (Siemens, 2004)
Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm