Review of Connectivism – theory and practice

Learning theory is a set of properly argued ideas intended to explain facts and process of learning. 

A learning theory should be based on a set of principles.  For instance in the case of adult learning theory, there are certain assumptions about adult learning.  Based on those assumptions, one postulates learning strategies that could facilitate and reinforce learning.  Such learning could include a change in knowledge, skills, attitudes and/or behavior.  And if the goals and learning outcomes are achieved through the adoption of those learning strategies in real life applications, we would argue that such ideas and strategies have been tested to be valid and reliable in explaining how and why learning occurs.  We can then develop a set of principles of adult learning which are universally “true” or “valid”.

In the case of collaborative learning in a “networked global learning environment”, I believe that there are some universal general principles that are essential: “everyone’s ideas are valued by each other”, “everyone in the network is willing to openly share their ideas”, “everyone appreciates feedback or responses from others”, “everyone respects the ideas or views of others, even if there are conflicting views”, “the truth needs to be based on facts, not just opinions or beliefs”, “we are motivated in a connective world”, “we treat each other with respect”,  “we believe that we will build a better world through collective learning” etc. Though we may argue that some of the above “principles” or “assumptions” are really common sense.  We still need to provide solid proof that they could stand the test of time and are true on all occasions.

I think we still need to explore the “elements and principles” which constitute a learning theory, in the case of connectivism and connective knowledge.  Perhaps the sharing of learning amongst us through this course provides an excellent platform to build up those elements and principles.

As we grow in knowledge and understanding when connecting with others, we may argue that it is going beyond the traditional way of learning, i.e. the adoption of an unstrutured, dynamic and changing way of learning, through connecting with others, and sharing of views and understanding of complex themes and topics.  This leads to “deep, real and dynamic learning of our world”, with a focus of understanding on both individual and collective views. 

So my definition of learning theory in the context of connectivism and connective knowledge is that the facts and process of learning is based on the connection amongst members of the community, through a cycle of continual learning  – reflection and observation, argument and analysis, understanding, and application of concepts, principles both individually and collectively. 

I would like to learn from you on the following: 

1. Is knowledge power?

2. In a connective learning community, can we share our knowledge without losing power?

3. Why do we want to connect with others?

4. What can we learn through connectivism and connective knowledge?

5. How can we learn more effectively in this connective community?

John Mak


A re-visit of education, learning and connectivism

Our challenges today are many.  We are experiencing the “big bang” of information, and are left with vast traces of information and knowledge that grows astronomically in seconds.

As adults, we have become both educators (parents, mentors, trainers, teachers etc.) and learners, at work and at home.  Our dual role throughout life challenges us to become more inquisitive.  We are eager to adopt new concepts if they could be applied in our real life.  We are willing to take reasonable risks to educate and learn from our present and next generation.  We are more willing to change our views and attitudes when we are better informed.  And we are willing to try new ways of learning in order to fulfil our changing needs. So is connectivism part of the solution?

Engagement of learners is important in learning. We are always engaging if we stay connected. And we are educating and learning at the same time through such connection. 

And we could select what, when, where, how we like to learn and acquire knowledge and information when connected.

I would like to learn from you:

1. How could we keep up with the information changes? 

2. How could we acquire and apply knowledge more effectively?   

3. Can we achieve some of our goals such as improvement in our education system and learning  through such connection? 

4. Is connectivism a shift in learning paradigm?