Blogger and educational technology master’s student, Gretel Patch, recently created a Period Table of Connectivism, as part of an assignment to interrelate the deep concepts of connectivism (put forth by George Siemens and others), personal learning networks, and communities of practice (perhaps even communities of learning?). This is very powerful visual concept and she deftly manages to connect this important considerations for the socially networked learner and educator.
While it could be argued that Patch’s table represents a more formal and static process than what we witness in ‘real world’ observations and group dynamics and under the specific conditions with which we make our connections and how they impact our PLN and involvement in communities of practice. But like the periodic table we all know and love (?), these elements express trends across time, among individuals, and within the groups and networks with which we engage, collaborate, and interact. They contain specific ‘elements’ required for healthy connections to develop and for individuals to contribute and take advantage of them to model their community of learning (learners).
And of course, at any given moment under specific circumstances or conditions new relationships, communities, and networks can be forged. The entire process is self-organizing in nature and the learning itself is far more important that what was learned. The Period Table, in fact, lends itself to an organic development of the process of becoming connected, using connections to create others that may not be readily apparent or even existent in the present; new ‘elements’ form (emerge) from the combining of existing ones.
Still, I ponder how do we help out colleagues that insist on struggling in isolation in their classrooms? Is a visual representation like Patch’s table a more powerful way to connect the me-island teacher?