Is Connectivism a Learning Theory or a Phenomenon?

Posted: October 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

See on Scoop.itHow We Learn

Connectivism: Its place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning

Thomas J Okon‘s insight:

In my continual quest to understand how we learn, I recently found this  paper on Connectivism.

Connectivism has been under fire recently. See Stephen Downes response to one such instance here

This research report by Frances Bell brings up some interesting critiques of Connectivism as a learning theory. Though it is from 2011, the questions she ask’s and the points that are made still seem valid today. It questions whether connectivism can truly replace other learning theories whether it can just complement them, or can in fact even be called a learning theory.

Connectivism aspires to redefine learning within the diverse contexts identified in the Introduction and to deliver a learning theory

for the digital age. This is a tall order for so young a theory, as it is yet untested: This may account for its lack of rigour. In this paper, the author not only looks for one learning theory but rather theories that will help us to understand and make changes as learners, teachers, and learning technologists in this evolving context.

Frances Bell argues that connectivism makes its contribution mainly as a phenomenon, “a thing as it appears, rather thanas a thing in itself. Therefore, If connectivism is insufficient, the question remains: Which theories are needed to learn and

make change in this dynamic, sociotechnical environment?

That is still open to debate. She says that we cannot yet expect a single, all-encompassing theory in this context for learning, if indeed we ever could.

There are other theories like Actor-network theory (Latour,2005)

Example: Flexible learning (Bigum & Rowan,2004); Social Learning Theory (Stewart & Williams, 2005; Williams, Stewart, & Slack;  Vygotsky’s ZPD(Chaiklin, 2003) Example: (Griffiths & Light, 2010) and Third-generation activity theory (Engeström, 2001). Example: (Engeström & Kerosuo, 2007).

The final conclusion of this article determines that in the current dynamic context for learning and education, connectivism alone is insufficient as a theory to inform learning and its technology-enabled support  in an internetworked world, and that as the scope of changes in learning enabled by technologies increases, so does our need to expand the repertoire of theories and research approaches.

See on

  1. Talking Man says:

    This is a very good question that should be explored academically with rigorous research. (Not simply slapping YouTube versions of VHS Classroom on the Internet and expecting “massive” crowds to learn by absorption.) Since connectivism is the underlying precept upon which the Digital MOOC Model was built, it deserves to be explored… supported… defended… challenged… and even dubunked if necessary. My early review of the literature leaves many unanswered questions regarding the actual differences between connectivist principles and Bondura’s social learning concepts. I don’t have the time (or motivation) to conduct studies, but I am interested in reading any studies completed.

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