Connectivism Learning Theory
EDIT 451: Survey of Instructional Media and Technology / Dr. Pearl Chen
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The idea that knowledge exists
everywhere and is accessed and
organized by the learner
"Philosophy and values associated with the measurement and study of human
behavior" (Reiser & Dempsey 11).
"Learning is viewed as a process of inputs, managed in short term memory,
and coded for long-term recall" (Siemens 3).
Vygotsky -2 important Elements: Language & Scaffolding
Papert - Learning occurs through learners' engaging in creative
experimentation and activity (Kop & Hill 6).
A newly developed theory of learning
that started within the blogosphere in
2005 and from there has been, and
continues to be, developed into a
learning theory for the digital age
"Learning is a process that occurs
within nebulous environments of
shifting core elements – not entirely
under the control of the individual"
Principles of Connectivism
• Diversity of Options
• Connecting nodes or information sources
• Reside in non-human appliances
• Capacity to know more
• Nurturing & maintaining connections
• Ability to see connections
• Currency is the intent
• Decision-making is a learning process
Application of Connectivism -
Asynchronous - students can access the
online material at any time.
Synchronous - Real time interaction
between students and instructor.
Benefits of Online Learning
• Individualized instruction and material designed
based on learner's needs and current level of
• Promote deep, meaningful and contextual
learning with constant support in the process
• Instruction can incorporate strategies and
theories from all three different schools of
learning (Behaviorist, Cognitivist, and
Commonalities in Application of the
Different Schools of Learning in Online
• Use of technology to highlight important
information and facilitate maximum
• Provide opportunities for learners to
process, reflect and make the lesson relate
to the learners
• Learners are intrinsically motivated with
extrinsic motivational support.
• Material are inclusive of different learning styles
• Simulation of real-life situations.
• Learners are given opportunities to construct their
own knowledge through collaborative and cooperative
• Learning process are interactive and promote higher
level learning and social presence, and helps develop
Connectivism in the Classroom
• Google Learning Suite - Docs, iGoogle, RSS,
• Social Bookmarking - Delicious
• PageCast - Pageflakes
• Interactives - VoiceThread, Glogster,
• Study Tools - Quizlets, NoodleBib, Lingt
~ Critics Of Connectivism ~
• Previous learning theories are sufficient;
technology is merely an addition
• Not a theory of instruction or learning, but a
theory on curriculum/content
• Really just a branch of constructivism with the
addition of technology
~ Defending Connectivism ~
• Previous learning theories were developed in a
pre-digital era and are outdated
• Network formation *is* learning; both content
and context matter; new research taking place
• It can complement constructivism; ability to co-
exist with others
• Many theories across disciplines support
~ Useful Websites & Resources ~
*Connectivism: Networked and Social Learning
George Siemens' WordPress on various connectivist and digital learning topics
George Siemens' main e-learning website, also contains a blog and several articles on
the theory and related ideas.
Stephen Downes' website, also full of resources on connectivism and related topics
*Connectivism & Connective Knowledge
Official website of the large online open course taught by Siemens/Downes in 2008
and 2009 on connectivism. Contains course recordings, transcripts, blogs, and wikis.
~ Discussion + Q&A ~
~Any questions or comments about this
topic? What do you think of this theory?
~How do theories of learning, theories of
instruction, and epistemological constructs
(aka: definitions of knowledge) work
~What type of learning research can
better support this theory?
~ Bibliography ~
Ally, M. (2004). Foundations of educational theory for online learning [Chapter 1].
Retrieved from http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/ch1.html
Hamilton, B. (2009). Transforming information literacy for nowgen students.
Knowledge Quest, 37 (5), 48-53.
Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of
the past?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9 (3),
Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/523/1103
Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and
technology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: Learning as network-creation. Retrieved from
~ Bibliography ~
Siemens, G. (2006). Connectivism: Learning theory or pastime for the self amused?
Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/articles/connectivism.htm
Verhagen, P. (2006). Connectivism: A new learning theory?. Retrieved from