#CCK11 Why Connectivism – and social networks are important?

The post by George on Connectivism provides an overview on what Connectivism is and why it is important.  Stephen also highlights in the post on What is Connectivism.

As shared by George, Connectivism is important because:

Connectivism finds its roots in the climate of abundance, rapid change, diverse information sources and perspectives, and the critical need to find a way to filter and make sense of the chaos. As such, the networked centrality of connectivism permits a scaling of both abundance and diversity. The information climate of continual and ongoing change raises the importance of being continually current. As Anderson has stated, “more is different”. The “more” of information and technology today, and the need to stay current, forms the climate that gives roots to connectivism.

The importance of learning lies with the connections.  And that we must stay current with up-to-date information.

In this The hidden influence of social networks

Nicholas Christakis shares the insights he gained through the study of social networks:

*Different structural locations have different impact on your life – So in CCK11, how you participate in the network would have different impact on your learning, and the saying of: “the more you get involved, engaged with others in your networks through participation or contribution, the more likely you would get what you want”.   In order words, the more active or engaged you are in the social networks, the more likely you would influence others or be influenced by others in the networks or communities.

*Our Network Position is Partially Heritable – To what extent is this true when learning in and with social networks?  May be those more influential people have got genes inherited from their parents, and so they would hold positions as comparable to their parents that are also influential.  I would like to see more evidences in case of social networks with a learning focus – like CCK11

*Networks have values – and there are different kinds of social values associated with learning through social networks.  My experience with learning through social networks – Facebook and Twitter and that in CCK08, 09, CritLit2010 and PLENK2010 do enable me to appreciate the values with social networks, by having virtual networked learning, and sharing of ideas and collaborating with others on projects (via wikis, blogs etc.).

*Connections Matter

– Graphite


reside in the interactions of atoms, and so type of connections would decide on their “strengths”

Photos: from Flickr

The ties between people matter – that means that strong or weak ties with connections amongst people in the networks do affect the sort of learning of individuals and the networks.  Also the learning that emerged through networked learning is likely greater than the sum of its parts (i.e. individual learning).  How would these be translated and reflected in our learning with CCK and PLENK?  In theory, different (sorts of) ties do matter in learning, and so could impact on the sort of learning each of the participants are expecting and experiencing in networks.

I would need to dig deeper into the research findings to uncover these propositions on networked learning.

* Spread of good and valuable things in social networks matters – so the spreading of happiness and altruism are important in social networks.  I suppose the spreading and sharing of valuable artifacts and learning in CCK11 could make a difference in individual and social learning.

In summary, connections matter. By studying social networks, we could have a better understanding about how emotions are shared or spread in social networks.  We could also better understand other phenomena in social networks which are associated with ideas generation and spreading (memes), education development, business and market share and failures, economics, health issues and the spread of diseases etc.

How about your experience with connections?  What are the positive and negative aspects of connections you have found so far, with CCK or social networks?


15 thoughts on “#CCK11 Why Connectivism – and social networks are important?

  1. Pingback: Social skills and connectivism « connectiv

  2. Hi John,
    This is an excellent post. I totally agree with the following quote in your post: “Also the learning that emerged through networked learning is likely greater than the sum of its parts (i.e. individual learning).” At least in my case, this has been true, and I could cite many examples of what you allude to.

    Some questions that intrigue me are these:

    1. Is connectivism only for the benefit of an autonomous, self-directed learner, like you and me?

    2. How could a teacher get students, who learn because they have to, because they are going to be tested and thus have to know certain information, and thus, understandably, lack intrinsic motivation to learn?

    3. Would you say that connectivistic learning is powerful enough to overcome the inertia and lethargy common to most students in our schools and universities?


  3. Hi Profesorbaker (Thomas),
    Thanks for your comments. Great questions.
    1. Connectivism could benefit not only autonomous, self-directed learners, but also all other learners who would like to develop higher order learning skills in their life-long learning journeys. There are lots of assumptions here, and so I don’t think we could easily identify the learners who would benefit most with connectivism. This depends on learners’ prior experience, their learning habits, their perceptions of learning with technology and media, and their motivation. As most adult learners could be confused by the complexity of learning whilst immersed in learning networks (internet and webs), especially if they are exposed to such learning environment as “novice”, some would doubt about their perceived “digital migrant” status, and may withdraw from learning. There may be more “unlearning” required for such learners before they could overcome the lack of confidence in learning. Besides, a feeling of lack of security, language barriers, and insufficient information, technology and social skills, and a lack of or poor access to technology could deter learners from learning under such a digital learning environment. So, connectivism may be more suitable for (technology) innovators and early adopters at this stage.

    2. It is very difficult for teachers to motivate students to learn, especially if the students are lacking the “intrinsic motivation”. However, teachers could create a learning environment that is conducive to learning, as I have shared here, through interaction with students, or encouraging and supporting students in their learning journey. Could we do away the testing and still be able to assess if students are able to demonstrate their capability or capacity in “knowing certain information”? How about negotiating with students so they could develop their skills – with learning by doing? How about assessment projects (like eportfolios, or problem based learning) which could cater for their needs? Other methods could include the development of artifacts (videos, podcasts, slideshows, blog posts, wikis, games) which may help them to consolidate their learning in a progressive manner (the formative assessment). The use of interviews with experts, knowledgeable others, or professionals of a domain would enable the learners to reach out to the outside world, so they could understand the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for certain jobs or careers. The adoption of PLE (Personal Learning Environment) would stimulate the learners to take responsibility of their own learning. So, what could a teacher do? A lot? Would this depend on the learners’ needs, and support required? As a teacher, it is important to realize when intervention is required, and when it is not necessary. There is a saying: “If we try to teach the students too much without understanding their needs, we are “taking” away their learning opportunities” Would it be better to allow the students to make their choices in their learning journey, so they could be “motivated to learn”? Would it depend on what they need and what support and advice would benefit the student most?

    3. Connectivist learning is one of the learning strategies (and philosophy) and as shared in (2) above, it depends on the students and learning environment and system. My experience is that if we are just to add those PLE/N into the current system (i.e. still relying on lecturing, testing of students using the traditional means), then most students would only sense such connectivist learning as an additional “component” to their often “congested” learning curriculum. Besides, for those students who have been so adapted to the traditional lecturing approach, they would hesitate if such learning would benefit them that much, as the development of PLE/N could involve a lot of hard work, as well as the perception that it’s the duty and responsibility of the teacher as the principal source of information (i.e. to teach), or that the teacher as the only curator, to provide them with all the necessary resources required to learn. How would we be able to convince students to take the initiative in developing their own learning? This could be a huge challenge for any educator. Also, good teaching is good teaching (which could include all those elements that I shared in (2) above), rather than the delivering of a fixed time lesson or lecture followed by a test or examination only.

    I don’t think I could conclude that connectivist learning is powerful enough to overcome the inertia and lethargy as you mentioned, but surely it provides an option to both educator and learner to consider in school and universities. We are still at an experimental stage in the adoption of such networked learning strategy in formal education, and more evidences (case studies on the adoption of PLE/N and Connectivism) are required to justify the claims of its added value to learning, education and the education system.

  4. Hi John,

    Thank you for taking the time to give me a unique, informative, and insightful reply. To be honest, I am sure it will be helpful to me, in multiple ways. Your response has the flavor of material that one instinctively knows they will return to often, to consider it from the many perspectives that it contains, and always discovering something new on each visit.

    A final request: Could you post your reply as a stand-alone blog entry, divorced from the original post? I ask because, in my humble opinion, I sincerely believe your insights would be useful to a large number of educators who would like to share connectivism with their students. We realize its power, but the challenge is turning something inherently self-initiated into a teaching and learning paradigm in today’s educational climate, totally focused on testing (PISA, national and state accountability exams, etc.).

    Finally, I thank you for your reply. It is awesome, and I urge you to “Feed it Forward”.

    Best regards,

  5. Pingback: CCK11 Connectivism – perspective and reflection | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

  6. Thanks Jaapsoft2 for your reference and comments. Pass-fail sounds interesting to me.
    I have composed a few posts on assessment. Here and here.
    The challenge with assessment based on a connectivist learning approach is to come up with an assessment method which is catering for the learners’ needs, but also satisfying the criteria set by the educator and educational institution, as that is often needed to fulfill the accreditation requirement. This may sound complicated as most assessment used are based on learning contracts or mass assessment rubrics, which are standardized to a certain extent, though there are some leeway towards personalization. However, under a connectivist learning, the learning that emerges may not be measured easily by the assessment method (and the relevant rubrics), as there might be tacit knowledge and learning based on serendipity that are not accounted for.

    So pass or fail in assessment may be useful for making judgment on the learners from an educational perspective, but what is more important is for the learners to reflect on what they have actually learnt through the practice, even if there are failures encountered in the learning process, and thus provide a valuable feedback to the learners on areas they could further develop and improve.

    Learning based on a connectivist approach does carry lots of risks, experimentation, and so successes and failures are just part of the learning process. Feedback which focuses on the strengths of the learners, rather than the mere weaknesses of learners would help the learners in boosting up their confidence in their learning. To this end, it may be more appropriate to emphasize the importance of learning through goal setting, strategic planning and connectivist learning using various tools, media, and networks. In this connection, failures would be viewed as part of the complexity of learning in the learning process and journey, rather than the labeling of failure as totally undesirable in learning.

    Failure is the mother of success. So, may be instead of giving a pass/fail as a grade, I think the use of capable and not yet capable might be a better alternative to describe the outcome of the learning, though the meaning behind what it means need to be clearly understood by the educators and learners under a connectivist environment.

    We all have failed, in one way or the other in our learning, though we seldom labelled ourselves as failures. So far if we have learned through our failures (by reflection and corrective action), then we could claim success

    The product of learning is the learner, and so there is no failed learner IMHO, only that the learner may not yet be capable of performing a task or understood the concepts or theory as yet.

    We are all successful learners, as we are all capable of doing certain tasks. So that is our option in learning – choose something that make us a success, though we all could encounter failures in the process.

    How does it sound?


  7. Pingback: CCK11 Connectivism and Assessment | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

  8. Pingback: CCK11 Connection with networks and communities | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

  9. Pingback: #CCK11 On PLE and Complexity Theory | Learner Weblog

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