This week’s blog is on connectivism which many think of as a learning theory for the digital age. Connectivism is a theory that knowledge travels around networks of connections or nodes. Learning consist of the ability to travel these networks and find the informational node you are looking for. An analogy used in connectivism is that these networks are like conduits or pipelines through which knowledge flows. Some important concepts put forth in connectivism are:
- The conduit is more important than the knowledge that flows through it;
- It is more important to know where to find information than to actually know it; and
- Knowledge is rapidly changing and learners need this connectivity to keep up with it.
We participate in connectivism through social media, blogs; the internet etc. Connectivism also blurs the line between teacher and student. Anyone can contribute to a body of knowledge and in some situations we may act as the instructor and as a learner in another.
To further my knowledge of connectivism, I chose to join a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) run by North Carolina State’s Friday Institute. I am interested in teaching users how to use digital teaching and learning tools thus I enrolled in Coaching Digital Learning (https://place.fi.ncsu.edu/course/view.php?id=10 ). What has struck me thus far is how much or how little you participate is solely up to you. There is no fixed schedule or mandatory participation and what you get from a course like this is determined by what you are willing to put into it.
One criticism of connectivism is that it is more of a pedagogical point of view than a learning theory. It is more concerned with how we locate and contribute information than how we actually learn. On a personal note, I feel that one of the strengths of connectivism is also one of its weaknesses. The connectivist paradigm is very democratic and in many cases it treats all participants as equals. Unfortunately, several of the blogs I have read seem poorly conceived or misinformed. I do realize that this is a self-correcting mechanism as other contributors make counterpoints and corrections. However, like many things on the internet it is hard to separate the good from bad and opinions from facts.