Friday, January 27, 2012

Connection and Evolution [For CCK12]

Evolutionary biologists tell us that the most important traits for survival are preserved by evolution, and the useless ones are slowly taken away. Thus, while the ability of "newer-generations" of animals to have their young grow inside the womb appears to remain intact, the mammals' webbed feet seemed to be disappearing.

But surprisingly, one of the most preserved characteristics that stretch all the way from single-celled bacteria to humans is the ability to CONNECT.

In bacterial populations, the bacteria seem to sense the optimum population density and control of multiplication through chemical signals. This is called QUORUM SENSING. Quorum sensing allows bacteria to coordinate their behavior and quite simply "talk to each other" (University of Nottingham, undated). Between members of bacterial populations, connections are achieved through chemical signals. Animals evolved a broad range of communication and connectivity tools such as colorful plumage, travelling in pods, creating social hierarchy and language.

The need to connect is a primal drive that evolution has conserved because it allows the species to survive. In any case, is it not true that a community is stronger than an individual?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Great Migration [For CCK12]

One of the greatest phenomena of the human civilizations is the great population migrations. There are a few examples, such as the Chinese and the Indian diasporas, as well as the current Filipino diaspora where I am a part of.

When diasporas happen, there are culturally two events that occur simultaneously, one is that of assimilation and the other multiculturalism.

In a bigger sense, I believe that what we are experiencing right now is the greatest diaspora of all time, when we migrate from the analog world that we live in (or used to live in) to the digital world of the current generation. Much like the geographical migration, where in the parents made the decision to migrate, the children born in the new location seems more at ease at fitting in than their parents.

We are the 'parents' of the internet generation. We are the ones who decided to migrate and to forge ahead, thinking that this will give the next generation a better world, but it is our 'children' who function about it with utmost ease. It is not second nature to them, but rather the digital world is the only natural world for them.

And yet, we are in danger of losing connections to these our children, much like the parents of the migrant families tend to lose touch of their children. They either assimilate to the new culture or they impose their original culture on their children whose world is now different. I believe in doing both simultaneously.

The whole rationale of studying Emerging Technologies for me is that - to be able to adapt to the digital nation that received me as a migrant, the world where our students (our children) are natives. I believe that instead of imposing the old ways of learning, we need to understand how the world around them functions and to teach them along the new ways. I also believe that we have to celebrate the old ways of teaching and learning. To teach the values of community and team spirit through old tools such as sports and group projects; to be able to teach empathy through exposure and experience. This alongside teaching them how to google and create wikis, and how to blog and to facebook.

There are many examples of new age tools that we need to learn and navigate. We have to learn to assimilate. There are also a lot of 'old' things in the real world that is highly applicable to the virtual world. Most of these digital tools still yield to old-fashioned common sense of security and boundaries. "Don't talk to strangers" is an adage that serve well both the analog world as well as the digital world.

Connectivism is a new concept of learning, mostly brought about by the new technology. It seems that this technology has rewired how we learn, or so the theory suggests. I would like to explore this during this module. And it situation permits, I would like to use the concept of migration as the backdrop of my understanding of connectivism.

Monday, January 16, 2012

After all these years....

Yes it has been 2 years since my last blog on this site. Probably because all my need to express myself in the net has been thoroughly and adequately (up til now) been addressed by Facebook.

It seems such a long time, particularly in the digital world where internet companies come and go. But then again, the adage that everything you post in the net stays there forever is proven by blog. Oh well,better be careful about what we blog, that is what I always advice my students. You do not know who are reading, and we do not know how to delete our posts.

I am now excited with re-entering the blogosphere (do facebook postings count?)particularly to join the module on Emerging Technologies for Teaching and Learning and interact with a few hundred classmates from all over the world.