Tagged: W3A11

Week 3 – Activity 11: Connectivism

Timing: 1.5 hours


Social Network Of People

The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.


On Connectivism:

Where constructivism is focused on an ordered set of tasks, the connect world is dealing with chaos, where this organisation is not always, or seldom present.

Think of contextualisation as a teaching tool. It is often valuable to frame knowledge in a context of other knowledge the learner might know of. This way enforcing the new knowledge or skill. Connectivism holds a very similar view, where the more access to knowledge we obtain, through networks of other individuals or organization, the ‘stronger’ we become as we hold more potential knowledge.

This potential knowledge is key to our progress in an increasingly chaotic world. “We exist within a network, where out connections and potential to learn, are more important than our individual knowledge.”

The health of a network is related to the speed of its flow. How quickly an innovative idea can become reality/practice, displays the health of a network, both personally, within organisations and between organisations. Think of this as being similar to social mobility: the more organised the economy, the easier it is for people to make connections and move through it. This provides a good metaphor for knowledge.

Think of the network as a river: Spread through various areas, ebbing and flowing in different parts. The flow of knowledge through this river depends on the linkages and health of its system. Ideally, we want to create a system where information can easily flow through organisations and society.

We could also consider the health of the network being improved by more nodes conceiving to it, similar to a Web 2.0 theory, that the more nodes, the healthier the network.

As a teacher:

The more we connect our students to networks, or different nodes of a network, the better we enable our students to make sense of the world and what they are learning. We increase their potential for knowledge through their ability to access and understand knowledge as a set of information within a context. “This amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network is the epitome of connectivism.”


On other theories mentioned (behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism):

Stated as being a definition that encompasses many of the attributes commonly associated with behaviourism, cognitivism, an constructivism: Driscoll (2000) defined learning as “a persisting change in human performance or performance potential…[which] must come about as a result of the learning’s experience and interaction with the world.” (p11). This idea is not dissimilar to connectivism, especially through its connections to the world of knowledge as interaction.

However, each of the theories (behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism), do not address learning that occurs outside of people (i.e. learning that is stored and manipulated by technology). They also fail to describe how learning happens within organisations.

Therefore, whilst these theories do talk to personal learning, where they fail is in linking this personal knowledge to a network to assist in broader knowledge creation. They are highly focused on the individual learning, and not what happens to this learning once it is known with effect to others.

From the article, the limitations of the above theories:

  • How are learning theories impacted when knowledge is no longer acquired in the linear manner?
  • What adjustments need to be made within learning theories when technology performs many of the cognitive operations previously performed by learners (information storage and retrieval – think of Wikipedia)?
  • How can we continue to stay current in a rapidly evolving information ecology?
  • How do learning theories address moment where performance is needed in the absence of complete understanding (in many situations, we have to act without knowledge, meaning we have to quickly obtain it – how do we do so?)?
  • What is the impact of networks and complexity theories (chaos) on learning?
  • What is the impact o chaos as a complex pattern recognition process on learning?
  • With increased recognition of interconnections in differing fields of knowledge, how are systems and ecology theories perceived in light of learning tasks?

However, is it not plausible that connectivism can be viewed as the ‘outside’ and ‘connected’ world of knowledge, where theories such as behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism can be viewed as the personal/inside manner in which we understand/learn this knowledge? Therefore, although the author seems to suggest that these theories are outdate, I would argue that they are still very relevant, but simply look at a smaller part of knowledge building (what is obtained internally by the learner), rather than how this knowledge is spread beyond the learner.

Link to discussion thread.