Connectivism is a new learning process that places great emphasis on the importance of networks and networking in learning and acquiring new information. Willeke declares that “connectivism is best grasped as social learning theory rebranded for the digital age and communities of learning within that age” (www.mhwilleke.com). George Siemens pioneered the idea of connectivism which notes several important learning trends including:
- “Many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime.
- Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.
- Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.
- Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.
- The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.
- Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.
- Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)” (Siemens, 2005, p.2).
Although Siemens’ idea of connectivism is not technically considered to be a learning theory along with the likes of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, the case for it continues to grow. “The debate on the status of Siemens’ theory of connectivism will undoubtedly continue for some time, and the ultimate outcome remains to be seen. However, one of connectivism's defining principles states that what we consider to be right today may tomorrow be considered wrong (Siemens, 2005). So then, perhaps, "tomorrow" the debate could lead to a prevailing view that connectivism is the leading learning theory of the time” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelley-Bateman, 2008).
Connectivism: Retrieved from http://www.connectivism.ca/
Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved 5-31-11, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1). Retrieved from http://itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm
Willeke, M.H. (n.d.) Connectivism: A Digital Social Learning Theory. Retrieved from http://www.mhwilleke.com/connectivism-a-digital-social-learning-theory