In the Connectivism theory one of the ground principals is that knowledge doesn't only exist in a human but rather in a network. For quite a long time there has been a discussion going on whether forums, blogs, wikis, tweets and so on can be considered as tools for learning. And can Learning exist in a networked environment. As I have my focus on learning I saw this discussion as something unique for the learning field. But I was wrong.
This Sunday I listened to a radio show on Swedish radio about media. They reported that a thread on a Swedish discussion forum is suggested for a nomination for one of the most prestiguos journalism awards in Sweden. The participants in this forum had by using their network discovered a huge scandal that took place in a small Swedish town. I will not go into details about what they had discovered as that would require a post of its own. But a couple of months later a Swedish Television show focused on investigative journalism revealed the very same scandal (not knowing about the discussion on the forum).
Two journalists who had followed the thread was really amazed that the participants in the forum managed to reveal this scandal, not by spreading rumours but actually investigating the sources and helping each other to find the hidden story. The two journalists decided to suggest the thread for the award. This started a heated discussion on what journalism is and what it isn't.
I saw many similarities in how the discussion has been going in my field of interest, Learning.
Can a thread in a forum be called learning?
Isn't it just information?
And what is the difference between information and learning?
And does it matter anyway?
What lies behind these types of discussions? Is it just about power? That journalists and L&D people feel that they loose the power if ordinary non-educated people can do journalistic work and learn without the assistance of the experts?
As I see it, people working together can create amazing things, whether it is building astonishing pyramids in Egypt, create investigative journalism in a forum, learn by being part of a network or innovate new things by sharing ideas on Twitter. That is something we shouldn't be scared of but embrace and see the amazing potential this holds for the future. This, for me, is the basis of Connectivism.