Emergent learning

In a very helpful and concise summary of connectivism, Stephen Downes wrote:

In connectivism, a phrase like 'constructing meaning' makes no sense. Connections form naturally, through a process of association, and are not 'constructed' through some sort of intentional action. And 'meaning' is a property of language and logic, connoting referential and representational properties of physical symbol systems. Such systems are epiphenomena of (some) networks, and not descriptive of or essential to these networks.

Hence, in connectivism, there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, making knowledge, or building knowledge. Rather, the activities we undertake when we conduct practices in order to learn are more like growing or developing ourselves and our society in certain (connected) ways.
This a wonderful way of saying that learning is emergent, not manufactured by production foremen, instructional designs or studying formal content. We all have countless experiences with "connections forming naturally". Here's some reminders of what you already know to be true:
  • "Now I get it" - Sometimes an explanation does not make sense to us and we get stuck in consternation or a quandary. Then it dawns on us what "they were trying to say" or "what it all means". The clarity comes to us all of a sudden, not by our own effort. It "clicked" for us.

  • A-ha! - We are getting the feeling that we are being lied to, scammed or misled. The clues are adding up but they are not conclusive yet. Then one more piece of evidence suddenly ties everything together. Faster than we can say "Mississippi", we know whodunit or what the truth is.

  • "Out of the blue" - We struggle to remember a forgotten fact or to come up with a solution -- to no avail. Thinking gets us nowhere. Then we let it go, distract ourselves with an activity or sleep on it. Suddenly it then shows up in our mind from out of nowhere.

  • "My mind leaped" - We realistically and accurately know the present condition without denial or self-delusions. We also know where we want to be and what we want to happen. We don't know how to get from the facts to the imaginative future. Then our minds take a leap and the intervening steps fall into place. We suddenly know what to do next and how to fulfill our intention.

  • "Did an about-face" - We know the problem. We know who's interfering and why the change is difficult. We've even figured out what to do about it. Then we get humiliated, our bubble gets burst or we discover we've been clueless all along. We then do an about-face and lose confidence in anything we were certain about before. We suddenly realize we are the problem, we created the interference and we made the change difficult. The realize how our enemies are allies, the threats are opportunities and the obstacles are useful challenges. Nothing looks like it did before.

  • "Shut up and did it" - We talked about it until we were blue in the face. We considered our options, vocalized the tradeoffs and rehashed the decision over and over. Then without further ado, we stopped fussing about it and simply did it. Something "made up our mind" and we knew to do it confidently.

  • Sudden breakthrough - Our minds are going in circles. We worry, obsess or fixate on what's going wrong. We cannot get out of thinking we're in big trouble, things are getting worse and there's no way out. We're digging ourselves a deeper pit but cannot stop it. Then we're transported to a totally different perspective. We suddenly see the big picture and the process to be trusted. It becomes clear how to let go and go with the flow. We how the good will come about once we stop interfering with our ambition, fears or urge to control nature.
With these examples in mind, we might come to a sudden realization that learning really is emergent. We might suddenly see that our thinking "we make learning happen" is clueless and "doing an about-face" is called for. But then again, we might not.

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