This week in Connectivism Stephen Downes and George Siemens differentiate between groups and networks. When I first started to consider connectivism as a learning theory, I had difficulty separating these two ideas. I wondered how connectivism was any different than cooperative learning with technology. A simplistic view, I know. But, playing devil's advocate in my own mind, I couldn't immediately see enough differences to warrant a brand new theory of learning. That changed for me somewhat over the past weeks and more so this week.
A few key concepts associated with groups and networks really clarify the differences.
Connectivism is about networked learning. This doesn't mean that groups won't form within networks. It just means that connective learning in it's most powerful sense has the characteristics on the right side of this concept map. Those characteristics are what differentiates groups from networks and connectivism from other learning theories.
Just one question...
I'm grappling with the notion that networks are like ecosystems. When I think of an ecosystem, I think of critical dependencies whereby the ecosystem fails when one component fails. Yet in a complex network, a node could theoretically disappear without causing major impact to the network. Again, I'm getting caught up in metaphors when I should be thrilled that all of this is starting to make a lot more sense to me.