What is Connectivism?
New digital technologies have impacted teaching and learning in two ways: firstly, through Web 2.0, a non-linear, two-way interactive and collaborative platform, and secondly, though the exponential growth of knowledge (Garcia, Elbeltagi, Brown, & Dungay, 2015). Siemens (2005) suggests these digital age impacts are so significant that a new learning theory is required.
Connectivism is a new emerging learning theory widely attributed to Siemens (2005) and Downes (2005). Siemens (2005) argues that knowledge exists outside of the learner in technologies that store and organize information. When the learner makes connections between concepts, opinions and perspectives accessed through their personal learning network, knowledge emerges and learning occurs (Dunaway, 2011; Kop & Hill, 2008). A personal learning network comprises connections between nodes which are information sources stored in a variety of formats, including individuals, groups, communities, ideas, systems and resources (Armatas, Spratt, & Vincent, 2014; Kop & Hill, 2008).
In connectivism, exploring, discovering and aggregating existing knowledge is more important that inventing new knowledge (Aldahdouh, Osório, & Caires, 2015). Each network is highly personalized and formed on the basis of how the learner organizes and maintains their connections (Garcia et al., 2015). The learner needs to filter and validate the knowledge by considering the connections through which it was transmitted and develop the ability to recognize connections, patterns and similarities, synthesize the information and make decisions based on the information (Couros, 2009; Kop & Hill, 2008). As Siemens (2004) stressed “the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe” (“Conclusion”, para. 1).
George Siemens discusses connectivism: where it came from and what it means (USC Blended Learning, 2014)
Connectivist principles and blog features
A blog is a personal online space such as web page where users publish personal opinions, experiences and share resources (Luehmann, 2008). A blog can be used as a tool for learning as it supports personal reflection and metacognition due to the “interaction and discussion that occur. . . through activities such as posting, commenting, reading and replying” (Garcia et al., 2015, p. 878).
Boitshwarelo et al. (2014) argue that an online learning community is a manifestation of connectivism as knowledge is distributed throughout the community of people and devices. A blog would serve as a connectivist tool as it facilitates interaction between peer and social communities of learners, continuity of conversations and allows for anytime, anyplace, anywhere learning (Garcia et al., 2015). Other tenets of connectivism addressed through a blog include the ability to involve external experts, control of the environment by the learner as they make and maintain their own connections, and the shift in the role of the teacher as students become accountable to one another (Garcia, Brown, & Elbeltagi, 2012).
There are a number recordings from open online course Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes.
In the recording above, Stephen Downes discusses connectivism (Siemens, 2011a, 11:04).
In this one, George Siemens answers a number of questions the learning process in connectivism, for example the nodes in a connection (Siemens, 2011b, 14:45).