The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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The digital scholar

1.7  Connectivism

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Figure 6 Connections

This is a learning theory proposed by George Siemens (2005). Of the theories listed here it is the only post-network theory, which has as its starting assumption the Internet and the mass of connections we establish. As Siemens states, ‘Learners as little as forty years ago would complete the required schooling and enter a career that would often last a lifetime. Information development was slow. The life of knowledge was measured in decades. Today, these foundational principles have been altered. Knowledge is growing exponentially’. Connectivism then stresses that learning takes place within a network. The following are the principles of connectivism:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialised nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Connectivism can be seen as an approach to learning that foregrounds the significance of the network and connections. Using its principles Downes and Siemens have run large-scale open online courses. Given its starting assumption it is probably closest to a pedagogy of abundance, but it is still relatively new and, while it sets out some clear principles and draws on other theories, it is not yet fully formed as a pedagogic theory.

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