The Power of Networks

I always enjoy listening to talks embedded in RSA animations. I find they are thoroughly stimulating, but revisiting this video I couldn’t not comment or link to it from my blog.

Connections and networks, are two words that have been around since the existence of mankind but that have enjoyed the benefit of being right in the middle of the ‘buzz’ only recently through the application of the online social media phenomena like Facebook and Twitter. Many people, including educators, discourage the use of online social networking because of what they call as ‘the implications’ of online social networks. I gather, that by ‘implications’ they are actually thinking about the negative or the adverse effects. To these people I would really suggest this book – by Christakis and Fowler – for it presents some interesting insights about what networks really are and what they can really do, whether for education, life, love, economy and politics.

In reality, we have a lot to learn through our connections. Wherever in the 1980’s I could only interact, and possibly learn, by the close knit community I had built around me of parents, and a few school friends, 30 years on, my learning interactions have possibly become … limitless! In the 1980’s and 1990’s I guess it was understandable and excusable that we would only learn from books. Possibly employers might have been right in saying that people coming out of higher education were not so practical – unless they went through a student-worker kind of scheme. And even so, most of our learning could come only from books, and from the teacher or lecturer. That was the era. But now, that the power of networks has been unleashed – that we have become so much aware of what connected really means and what it can really imply, I find it beyond comprehension that we are still listening to people saying that there is a gap between theory and practice, just as I find it incomprehensible that at higher education, students are still expecting to be told what to learn, when to learn it and how to learn it. Students, academics, teachers, everyone – can wield and harness such great power. The question is – do they know how? do they even know where to start from? I think the answer has to start with education – education is the key to this. No more regurgitation of content please! No more passivity – no more of the recipient metaphor. And if we start with education about the power of networks… who knows where we might end. The journey in itself is a most interesting pursue!

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One thought on “The Power of Networks

  1. Quite a few people have reservations about building social networks online. I’m not one of them, by the way :>) and, while I do respect their views it lessens the strength of THEIR arguments about their views–typically back-to-basics, focus on just reading and writing in the traditional sense, and such. In the end, it seems to me, that education needs to keep casting a broad net with regard to communication tools as people all have their strengths, limitations and likes. With a broad net we will catch more…’fish.’

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