I am undertaking an entirely online course with the University of Manitoba’s Learning Technologies Centre. Because I am in South Africa and under somewhat constraining limitation on bandwidth, I wont be able to to partake in the live synchronous chat/discussion sessions. I will however be reading and watching what is said by checking on the other participants blogs to see what is happening. Part of the responsibility in taking the course is to blog and tweet about your thoughts on the weekly online discussions.
This all works because we use a hashtag to identify what we write as part of the course. So if we are tweeting or blogging we include the code: CCK09 to indicate that the text is relevant to the course material. If you were to do a google search for CCK09 you would likely get a mash of stuff from a variety of sources all relating back to the Connectivism and Connected Knowledge Course – cool!
This course presents a contemporary learning theory for the information age. I have discussed connectivism in depth in my master’s program. Most of us are from the belief that it is a useful addition to the range of theories that learning designers must draw upon when using today’s digital environment.
The basic principles of connectivism are as follows:
- Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
- Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.
- Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
- Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
- Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
- Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
- Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
- Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
Connectivism as a theory of learning is highly contested among various circles. I would side with those that say that while it builds upon the theory of social constructivism and activity theory it also adds some important considerations for learners in an information age.
- Social constructivism says that knowledge is constructed socially, but interpreted locally.
- Activity theory says that knowledge is acquired through the use of tools.
- Connectivism says that learning is the process of creating connections and developing a network of information rich tools.
Connectivism seems to say that learning can exist outside of people. This is difficult for me to accept and I hope to unpack this further within the context of this course.
Reading Pløn Verhagen’s (2006) critique of connectivm reminds us that perhaps we need to differentiate between learning and knowledge. Learning as a process and knowledge as an information store. While I can appreciate that knowledge can be found in tools (technology), I would argue that it exists because humans put it there. Furthermore, it will be interpreted differently by everyone who encounters it.
Those are my initial reflections to the connectivist debate. Apologies to my regular readers who were expecting ‘food porn’ or pictures from around Cape Town, South Africa. I am hoping to begin to diversify this blog to include some of my master’s research discussion.
Siemens, G. (2004, 12 12). eLearnspace. Retrieved 9 15, 2009, from Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Verhagen, B. v. (2006). Connectivism: a new learning theory? Enschede, Netherlands: University of Twente. http://www.surfspace.nl/nl/Redactieomgeving/Publicaties/Documents/Connectivism%20a%20new%20theory.pdf