When is a graph not a ‘graph’?

I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing the word ‘graph’ and thinking about high school maths or statistics. But, in the context of this week’s topic on the eLearning 3.0 MOOC, the meaning is totally different. In this context, when we refer to graph, we really mean ‘network’. Or at least, that’s my interpretation.

I admit, I find it confusing to refer to a network as a graph, but these quotes from Stephen’s article helped me make sense of it:

“In connectivism we have explored the idea of thinking of knowledge as a graph, and of learning as the growth and manipulation of a graph. A core proposition is that this state of affairs contained in the graph or network constitutes knowledge, and that learning is therefore the creation, development and traversal of the network that constitutes that knowledge. Yet the question can still be asked, what makes it knowledge?”

“A graph – and hence, knowledge – is not merely a representational system, but is rather a perceptual system, where the graph is not merely the repository, but a growing and dynamic entity shaped by – and shaping – the environment around itself.”

I won’t go back over the detailed information on graphs and graph theory – it’s all on the elearning 3.0 website – but rather, I’ll present my take on the activity set for this week which was,

  1. Create a model graph of some aspect of the E-Learning 3.0 course.
  2. In your model, consider how the states of the entities in that graph might vary.
  3. In your model, consider how knowledge about the changes in states in the graph might be used.

I decided to create a graph to map put the potential influences the content of eLearning 3.0 MOOC could have on my work as a manager of a small team whose role is digital learning design. So, here’s the graph:


  1. In short, my interaction (learning) with eL3.0 should be a 2-way street – I acquire new knowledge and my assimilation and interpretation of of this new knowledge, fed back into the eL3.0 ‘community’ may add to that emerging body of knowledge.
  2. I also cascade what I’m learning to the people in my team. We have a strong culture of sharing and discussing what we each learn and look for ways to apply that learning to our projects.
  3. This is turn will see this learning manifest itself in new learning resources and potentially as updates to our learning services (eg our Open Badge platform).
  4. The remainder of the graph shows the impact of that learning in the sector we serve. So the nodes (or vertices) are learners, employers (circa 3,000 in our sector + employers in neighbouring sectors), further and higher education, strategic partners (eg other NDPBs or NGOs for folks outside the UK) and, policy makers. So the links (or ‘edges’)  and mostly bi-directional to demonstrate the dialogue between my team and I and our stakeholders as we seek to influence uptake, change and/or improvement in digital learning in our sector and neighbouring sectors.
  5. Thus, hopefully the learning from eL3.0 may have the scope to travel far beyond my immediate contacts and find expression in the work of others.

This was quite an interesting activity complete as displaying the connectivity and spread of ideas and learning from one learning experiences was valuable in making me think about the connections my team and I have and the potential for these connections to effect change in a large complex system.

Of course the real trick is in how you package that change and inspire others to grasp it.

eLearning 3.0 and Web 3.0

Of course, the context of this MOOC is in the developing Web 3.0.

“Web3 ultimately represents a dissatisfaction with that solution [the use of platforms], a (well-founded) distrust of platforms, and a desire for individual autonomy and accountability. The solution proposed by Web3 (or various versions of Web3) incorporates elements of identity, immutability and community.”

This week’s speaker, Ben Werdmuller had an interesting take on Web 3.0. In short, his view was that everyone should be able to ‘own’ their own website even down to owning the server which hosts that site (perhaps the ultimate smart home device?). The challenge, from my point of view, is how do we move people from starting out on blogging on commercially owned services (like WordPress), to creating their own website? Not only does the hardware component to this need to be as simple to set up as a modern TV, so do the tools to create and update your personal website.

Having said that Ben did emphasise usability/UX and the need to reach and engage the majority who have very limited skills in using technology and, given his track record in proviso projects like ELGG, we can only hope he is in a position to support the creation of tools to make his vision a reality.

I suppose the danger in packaging up his ideas into products which people with limited technical skills leads us back down the path which lead to the platforms we are dealing with today. So, I’m finishing with a question – How do we achieve this vision without losing the ethical position which Ben describes as informing it?

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