The H1N1 influenza pandemic is unprecedented, and I say that with the knowledge that there have been previous pandemics, but it is unprecedented with regards to the environment that it is evolving in. The state of medical knowledge, technology, and communication and collaboration world wide make it unique.
I think I am seeing many of the principles of connectivism in action, as health care professionals like myself and the lay public, "find our way" through this "complex, chaotic, and rapidly shifting situation". The thesis that "knowledge is networked and distributed across connections" and "knowledge is emergent from the connections, not contained in it" seems obvious when applied to the pandemic. Connectivism seems to fit learning during the H1N1 pandemic better than any of the other learning theories (behaviourism, cognitivism or constructivism) and I hope that the following thoughts will demonstrate why I think that.
- No single person, agency, business or organization knows everything H1N1, connections and networks between people, ideas, and research result in emergent knowledge almost on a daily (hourly?) basis and are central to learning about this virus.
- The addition of new connections to the H1N1 network results in a "ripple effect, which amplifies beyond the original connection."
- Connectivism and networked learning is "increasingly aided by technology", which in the H1N1 pandemic is both beneficial and detrimental.
Positively, most of the scientific publications on H1N1 have been published online first as early releases, allowing rapid communication of detailed information. Negatively, media reports that seasonal flu vaccine increased the risk of H1N1 were communicated before data was released by the investigator, leaving other researchers and health care professionals unable to respond. Email, blogging, and microblogging, alerting services, RSS feeds, etc allows up to the minute updates and facilitates rapid transmission of information via the "strong and weak ties" in a network. Important hubs (FDA, Health Canada, CDC, etc) are easily accessible via the internet. It is relatively easy to tap into the network, the lay public has access to a large portion of information that the average health care professional has. The announcement that the Canada H1N1 vaccine was approved for use was issued via a press release simultaneously to the public and health care professionals. In fact, the media and news networks have been just as an important source of information as the official documents from Health Canada, or other organizations.
- So, one could say that my connectivism goggles are my way of explaining what resonates with me, which is another important characteristic of networked learning.
Postscript: I started this post with the intention of completing the first assignment, What is Connectivism? but got side tracked by my H1N1 analogy. I am not sure if I accomplished the intended objectives of the assignment, but my connectivism goggles are hurting my eyes at this late hour, so stay tuned for futher posts.