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Connectivism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Connectivism is a hypothesis of learning which emphasizes the role of social and cultural
context. Connectivism is often associated with and proposes a perspective similar to
Vygotsky's 'zone of proximal development' (ZPD), an idea later transposed into
Engestrm's (2001) Activity theory.
[1]
The relationship between work experience, learning,
and knowledge, as expressed in the concept of connectivity, is central to connectivism,
motivating the theory's name.
[2]
It is somewhat similar to Bandura's Social Learning Theory
that proposes that people learn through contact.
The phrase "a learning theory for the digital age"
[3]
indicates the emphasis that
connectivism gives to technology's effect on how people live, communicate and learn.
Contents
1 Nodes and links
o 1.1 Principles
2 Teaching methods
3 History
4 Criticisms
5 See also
6 References
7 External links
Nodes and links
The central aspect of connectivism is the metaphor of a network with nodes and
connections.
[4]
In this metaphor, a node is anything that can be connected to another node
such as an organization, information, data, feelings, and images. Connectivism sees
learning as the process of creating connections and expanding or increasing network
complexity. Not all connections are of equal strength.
The idea of organisations as cognitive systems where knowledge is distributed across nodes
originated from the Perceptron, and is directly borrowed from Connectionism, "a paradigm
in cognitive sciences that sees mental or behavioral phenomena as the emergent processes
of interconnected networks of simple units".
The network metaphor allows a notion of "know-where" (the understanding of where to
find the knowledge when it is needed) to supplement to the ones of "know-how" and
"know-what" that make the cornerstones of many theories of learning.
As Downes states: "at its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed
across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to
construct and traverse those networks".
[5]

Principles
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.
Learning is more critical than knowing.
Maintaining and nurturing connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
Perceiving connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill.
Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of learning activities.
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.
Teaching methods
Summarizing connectivist teaching and learning, Downes states: "to teach is to model and
demonstrate, to learn is to practice and reflect."
[5]

In 2008, Siemens and Downes delivered an online course called "Connectivism and
Connective Knowledge".
[6]
It covered connectivism as content while attempting to
implement some of their ideas. The course was free to anyone who wished to participate,
and over 2000 people worldwide enrolled. The phrase "Massive Open Online Course"
(MOOC) describes this model.
[7]
All course content was available through RSS feeds, and
learners could participate with their choice of tools: threaded discussions in Moodle, blog
posts, Second Life and synchronous online meetings. The course was repeated in 2009 and
in 2011.
At its core, connectivism is a form of experiential learning which prioritizes the set of
connections formed by actions and experience over the idea that knowledge is
propositional.
History
Connectivism was introduced in 2005 by two publications, Siemens Connectivism:
Learning as Network Creation and Downes An Introduction to Connective Knowledge.
Both works received significant attention in the blogosphere and an extended discourse has
followed on the appropriateness of connectivism as a learning theory for the digital age. In
2007 Kerr entered into the debate with a series of lectures and talks on the matter, as did
Forster, both at the Online Connectivism Conference at the University of Manitoba.
[8]
In
2008, in the context of digital and e-learning, connectivism was reconsidered and its
technological implications were discussed by Siemens' and Ally.
Criticisms
The idea that connectivism is a new theory of learning is not widely accepted. Verhagen
argued that connectivism is rather a "pedagogical view."
[9]

The lack of comparative literature reviews in Connectivism papers complicate evaluating
how Connectivism relates to prior theories, such as Socially Distributed Cognition
(Hutchins, 1995), which explored how connectionist ideas could be applied to social
systems. Classical theories of cognition such as Activity theory (Vygotsky, Leontev, Luria,
and others starting in the 1920s) proposed that people are embedded actors, with learning
considered via three features a subject (the learner), an object (the task or activity) and
tool or mediating artifacts. Social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1962) claimed that people
learn by watching others. Social learning theory (Miller and Dollard) elaborated this notion.
Situated cognition (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Greeno & Moore, 1993) alleged that
knowledge is situated in activity bound to social, cultural and physical contexts; knowledge
and learning that requires thinking on the fly rather than the storage and retrieval of
conceptual knowledge. Community of practice (Lave & Wenger 1991) asserted that the
process of sharing information and experiences with the group enables members to learn
from each other. Collective intelligence (Lvy, 1994) described a shared or group
intelligence that emerges from collaboration and competition.
Kerr claims that although technology affects learning environments, existing learning
theories are sufficient.
[10]
Kop and Hill
[11]
conclude that while it does not seem that
connectivism is a separate learning theory, it "continues to play an important role in the
development and emergence of new pedagogies, where control is shifting from the tutor to
an increasingly more autonomous learner."
Ally recognizes that the world has changed and become more networked, so learning
theories developed prior to these global changes are less relevant. However, he argues that,
"What is needed is not a new stand-alone theory for the digital age, but a model that
integrates the different theories to guide the design of online learning materials.".
[12]