What is Connectivism Learning Theory?

What is Connectivism Learning Theory?
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Connectivism learning theory stems from the idea that knowledge is distributed across networks, rather than being housed in individuals. This theory has been gaining popularity in recent years, as it offers a fresh perspective on how we learn and interact with information. Connectivism emphasizes the importance of networks and connections in learning. It's a relatively new theory, but it has already gained a lot of traction in the education world due to its potential to provide insights into how we learn in today’s increasingly connected world.

💡 Lessons learnt: Knowledge isn’t a description of something, it is a way of relating to something

A History of Connectivism Learning Theory

Two theorists, George Siemens and Stephen Downes initially proposed connectivism in 2005. An Introduction to Connective Knowledge by Downes was released the year after Siemens' paper Connectivism: Learning as a Network Creation appeared online in 2004. Connectivism has been applied to fields such as education, knowledge management, and organizational learning. The rise of digital technologies and networks in society has increased interest in connectivism. Connectivist principles suggest that learners are active participants in constructing their own knowledge and that they learn best when they are able to connect with others who have similar interests or goals. Additionally, connectivism suggests that knowledge is distributed across networks rather than residing within individuals and that learning occurs through the formation of new connections between people and ideas.

The Principles of Connectivism Learning Theory

  1. Connectivism recognizes that knowledge is distributed across networks. Rather than being held in one central location, knowledge is spread out across a network of interconnected nodes.
  2. Learning requires us to make connections between disparate pieces of information. In order to learn effectively, we need to be able to see the relationships between different concepts and ideas. Learners are actively involved in making connections between concepts and ideas, rather than passively receiving information from a teacher or textbook.
  3. Connectivism views knowledge as a network of interconnected ideas. This means multiple perspectives that can be connected together to form a fuller understanding. Making decisions is a process of learning. What we know right now might not be true tomorrow. Due to the continually shifting information environment, even while there is a correct response right now, it might be incorrect tomorrow.
  4. Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

The connectivism learning theory posits that knowledge is distributed across a network of nodes (individuals, groups, organizations, etc.) and connections (the links between nodes). Connections are important for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. Learners are active participants in their own learning, constructing knowledge by connecting ideas and information from a variety of sources. Connectivism has been applied to a number of different educational contexts, including online.

Connectivism in the Classroom

Connectivism can help create more engaging and effective classroom experiences. It can help students learn how to navigate information overload and make connections between disparate pieces of information. Connectivism primarily relies on technology. The first stage in establishing a connectivist classroom is to increase options for digital learning, such as online courses, webinars and social networks. Gamification and simulations are also other ways of incorporating connectivism in the classroom. Connectivism promotes student collaboration both internally and externally by encouraging them to connect with others both inside and outside the classroom.

The role of the educator then becomes to “create learning ecologies, shape communities, and release learners into the environment” (Siemens, 2003).


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