Connectivism, Online Learning, and the MOOC


Published on

Longish online WizIQ presentation that looks mostly at the concept of learning theories and MOOCs. The first part examines in some detail the concept of knowledge rmployed in MOOC pedagogy - this is a view of knowledge as recognition of emergent phenomena from networks of connected entities. It them looks at learning theories properly so-called, which are theories describing the mechanisms that form, strengthen or weaken connections. From this is derives the main elements of MOOC pedagogy and network design. For audio and video, please see

Published in: Education, Technology

Connectivism, Online Learning, and the MOOC

  1. 1. Connectivism, Online Learning,and the MOOCStephen DownesJune 15, 2013WizIQ MOOCGoing Beyond the MOODLE MOOC for ActiveLifelong Learning
  2. 2. Knowledge• Networks as Knowledge• Emergence• Distributed Representation• Association• Meaning• Personal v Public Knowledge
  3. 3. Learning• ‘Downes Theory’ of Pedagogy• Personal Learning• Network-Based Assessment• Personal Learning Environments• Personal Learning
  4. 4. Community• Education and Democracy• Collaboration and Cooperation• Autonomy• Diversity• Openness• Interactivity
  5. 5. Knowledge
  6. 6. Three Kinds of Knowledge• Qualitative – properties, qualities, relations• Quantitative – number, mass, proportion• Connective – patterns, networks, causes,impacts
  7. 7. the knowledge is in the networkthe knowledge is the networkOld: universals– rules– categoriesNew: patterns– similarities– coherencesWhat ‘knowing’ is…
  8. 8. Emergence• How we perceive patterns of connectivity– Take the actual connections, and interpret themas a distinct whole– Take the distinct whole, and interpret as a set ofconnections• As Hume would say, our perception of acausal relationship between two events ismore a matter of custom and habit than it isof observation.
  9. 9. stands for?Or is caused by?Distributed Representation= a pattern of connectivityHopfield
  10. 10. Meaning• Traditionalist theories – ‘meaning’ is the stateof affairs represented or described• But what about ‘redness’, or ‘17’, or ‘powerlaw?’• the concept of redness in our own mind issimilar to having liberal as a description of apolitical party – it is composed of theorganization of low-level non-meaningfulentities
  11. 11. Organization– Personal knowledge: The organization ofneurons– Public Knowledge: The organization of artifacts• A common underlying logic: graph theory,connectionism, social network theory, etc.• If a human mind can come to know, and if a humanmind is, essentially, a network, then any network cancome to know, and for that matter, so can a society.
  12. 12. Learning
  13. 13. Network Learning…• Hebbian associationism• based on concurrency• Back propagation• based on desired outcome• Boltzman• based on ‘settling’, annealingThis…
  14. 14. ‘Downes Theory’ of Pedagogy
  15. 15. Personal LearningWe are using one of theseTo create one of these
  16. 16. Developing personalknowledge is more likeexercising than like inputting,absorbing or remembering
  17. 17. Network-Based AssessmentWe recognize thisBy perfomance in this
  18. 18. Personal Learning EnvironmentA PLE is a tool intendedto immerse yourselfinto the workings of acommunity
  19. 19. gRSShopper• A tool for managing connections• Used in Connectivism course
  20. 20. PLEs in a NetworkPLEs are envisioned as working as a network
  21. 21. Personal Professional Development• Most important to manage your ownprofessional development• The phrase in English is “eat your own dogfood” – use the practices to teach yourself• Form, create, and work with networks ofother professionalsDownes on Personal Professional Development
  22. 22. Community
  23. 23. Education and Democracy• Education is not about remembering a body ofpredefined content• It is about the citizens communicating what theyknow with each other• If follows that OERs are necessary for this democraticvision of education• The owners of education are the citizens of a society,not the governments and corporationsPapert and Freire on the Future of School
  24. 24. Elements of CooperationCOLLABORATION COOPERATION
  25. 25. Principles of Effective Design (2)• Semantic (intentional) principles:– Autonomy– Diversity– Openness– Interactivity
  26. 26. Autonomy• Factors affecting mental states– Empirical, cognitive, psychological• Capacity to act on mental states– Physical, social, structural, resources• Scope and range of autonomous behaviour– Expression, association, selection, method…• Effects of autonomous behaviour– Impact, improvement
  27. 27. Diversity• Composition– Many types of entities• Intention– Different goals, desires (Mill)• Perspective– Uniqueness of point of view, language• Mathematics of diversity– Multiple inputs produce mesh networks
  28. 28. Diversity (2)• Putnam, Florida, and the rest of it• Homophily and associationism• Teaching what we have in common instead ofour differences? No
  29. 29. Openness• Open education– Open content, teaching, assessment– Stages of openness and terminal path• Open networks– Clustering instead of grouping• Flow– Input, output, feedback– plasticity
  30. 30. The Importance of Open EducationalResources• Enables people to pursue their own personalinterests in their own way• But, more importantly, OERs become themedium of communication• We need to view OERs, not as resourcescreated by publishers at great cost, but ascreated by learners to interact with each other• The role of professionals and publishersbecomes the production of ‘seed OERs’
  31. 31. Interactivity• Influence vs emergence– Thought-bubbles – “we perceive wholes wherethere are only holes”• ‘Scope’ vs ‘Level’–• Ontology of emergence– Ontological (real) vs perceptual (recognized)• Connection to complexity & chaos
  32. 32. Stephen Downes