9. Connectivism

9.2. Connectivism and Learning

For Siemens (2005), it is the connections and the way information flows that result in knowledge existing beyond the individual. Learning becomes the ability to tap into significant flows of information, and to follow those flows that are significant. He argues that:

Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity….Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database).

Siemens (2005) identifies the principles of connectivism as follows:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized 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

Downes (2007) states that:

At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks….[Connectivism] implies a pedagogy that:

(a) seeks to describe ‘successful’ networks (as identified by their properties, which I have characterized as diversity, autonomy, openness, and connectivity) and

(b) seeks to describe the practices that lead to such networks, both in the individual and in society – which I have characterized as modelling and demonstration (on the part of a teacher) – and practice and reflection (on the part of a learner).