• Mahalia Knight

Mahalia's Mind Map

Updated: Aug 8

Looking at my social network has caused me to realise just how big of an impact it has on how I learn. I have been seeking people with a similar background to me, American expats abroad, and the news links and political opinions shared in these Reddit threads or WeChat groups does impact my own view of the world. I tend to gravitate towards social networking sites such as Reddit or Instagram, or platforms such as WeChat, where the news I receive is curated and often delivered with personal commentary or in a way people can comment on it. Also podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts.

This kind content curation has its benefits, such as being delivered news and content immediately interesting and relevant to me. As an adult learner, I am naturally interested in solving personal problems or issues I deem relevant to myself, and seek knowledge that can be of immediate use (Conlan, 2003). As I’ve aged, I’ve also grown to appreciate how finite my time is, and feel frustrated sifting through too many internet articles or topics I don’t care for. However, I do understand this habit can be dangerous, as I am susceptible to inheriting opinions of others without critically considering the implications or biases. I would like to say I try to balance out my “bad habits” by also subscribing to general news feeds, but the reality is, I rarely have the time or mental willpower necessary to dig deeper into stories beyond the superficial.

If I do have a question, I like to get a feel for the global context surrounding an issue, allowing me to construct meaning by comparing and contrasting concepts already in my long-term memory with new information (Jenkins, 2006). First, I explore a topic, typically beginning with a Wikipedia search (I know, I know, don’t tell my 10th grade English teacher) in order to get a general gist, learn about the key individuals or ideas behind an idea, and develop a rough sense of the history of the idea. Then I will usually head over to Reddit or—if I’m feeling lucky—ask a question in a group chat to see a quick overview of the chatter. Are people enraged? Engaged? Or, more worryingly, ambivalent? Finally, I will synthesise all of the information I have absorbed and begin forming my own opinion.

If there is any certain takeaway from browsing a hot comment section on a trending Reddit post is that “learning and knowledge rest in a diversity of opinions” (Davis, et al., 2006). For example, did Britney Spears’ conservatorship indeed help the megastar by forcibly cutting ties with Sam Lufti and reestablishing her career or was it a premeditated power ploy instigated by interested parties with the intent to profit off her? One could argue both to be true. As the world learns about Britney’s plight, we are actively synthesising our pre-existing knowledge (Britney’s public meltdown) with new information (discovering the obscure, convoluted, and sometimes dubiously legal practice of conservatorship).

Our amassed knowledge on Spears’ case is surpassed only by our capacity to know more. A condition of Spears’ conservatorship is her forced silence on the topic, so she has rarely given her individual opinion on the subject, and is (until very recently) essentially unknowable. As such, learners must find connections between vastly different fields such as Californian conservatorship law and TMZ articles circa 2007 in order to form a more complete picture. There is one thing we can be certain of, is that technology, in the form of establishing online platforms for conversation and the FreeBritney hashtag, has led learners to recognise and interpret patterns. It is unlikely Britney’s inhumane treatment would have been made public without the tireless work of online connectivists.


Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging

perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from 】

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging

perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Jenkins, J. (2006). Constructivism. In Encyclopedia of educational leadership and administration.

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