Connectivism – what’s missing?

Snowden's work on complexity is highly practical (e.g. the work at that Slavery Museum in Liverpool) and really innovative. There are two important aspects to it:

1. A unique, [near]real-time-client-feedback system, with great GUI facilities.

2. His four-state framework (I paraphrase, and he actually uses five - see here if you are interested in the detail). Four or five is neither here nor there for me. The important thing is that it cuts across everything else: Wenger, Connectivism, Constructivism, Senge's dynamic feedback loops, Checkland's soft systems, Open/closed systems, etc etc - all of them. I would apply it in most contexts, for instance within a CoP task, and Snowden applies it everywhere.

It's at heart a different epistemology or ontology. A different 'stage 0'. It simply asks "first, do you know what you're looking at?".

What it does it is it requires people faced with a problem, task or strategy to fist of all decide what kind of thing or problem state it is: chaotic, routine, complicated, or complex? It places an
ontological decision making process at the start of all executive planning and management (and yes, it can be done in a simple workshop format, without mentioning the word complexity). Unless you do that, you get into all sorts of problems, most of which come down to confusing predictable with emergent events and variables (complex v. complicated). And that's not good enough anymore.
However, If you do go through that process, you can then proceed with a number of management and workshop approaches. You can also move things from one quadrant to another, but that's more complicated, and more contentious. Simply getting your problem identification and problem formulation right is the best foundation for doing most things in life.

One of the problems with connectivism is that it doesn't really take any of this theory or practice into account, and it tries to replace existing approaches rather than to build on them. You have to keep both - as someone said a while back at a conference: "I believe in post-modernism, but don’t think I'm going to give up my cell-phone" - in other words, complexity is fine, but lets keep the benefits of positivist science.

This applies to connectivists too - without the formalised, commodified, repositories and exchanges of positivist science (where scientific knowledge is created and stored - and no, its NOT in the connections, its to be found at the end of connections, its what we leave behind in libraries, computer memory, etc when we switch off the connections) - without all this, the connectivists would not have an internet to play in.