Starting a course on connectivism has felt different in one way in that it’s predisposed me to look for examples of how I’m connecting with the other participants. Already there are some connections. My home town in Second Life (Chilbo) is being used as a venue for some of the synchronous events. Several people in the google group I’ve joined are already in my list of contacts in Facebook and linkedin. Some of them I only know as avatars, others are names in text only. I don’t know if I’ve met any of them face-to-face (but then how would I know?) and that seems to be more irrelevant now than it used to. Stephen Downes is virtually attending tomorrow a conference organised by the department in which I work. I’ve already added avatar names to my list of sl contacts having met those people through the google group.
In short, the connections that already connect me to the group feel strong (although if the cohort is 1900 strong I suppose I should expect some connections to already exist).
What does this mean? I suppose it supports the central idea that connectedness - and connectedness at a distance - is real. I’m part of a web of people and as I join groups or undertake projects, no matter where, that virtual community is, although not constant, has constant elements. I’ve recently moved universities, and I’d estimate that 90% of the people I work with on a daily basis are the same. Maybe 95%.
The other is that the people I connect with have certain factors in common - an ability to ptoject a social presence through the media we use to communicate - so they aren’t simply disembodied text - but real people to me. There’s also a commitment to connecting so those connections are maintained. If we’re to build up connected knowledge, than the skills required to connect and sustain connections also need to be acquired.