#Change11 Connectivism and Constructivism – What’s similar and different?

Relating to Connectivism versus Constructivism, I could see the following similarities in principles:
(a) buffer between learner & potentially damaging effects of instructional practices, dialogue rather than a pure didactic approach
(b) provide a context – where Connectivism emphasizes the use of PLE and aggregate-remix-repurpose-feed forward in MOOC (networked learning with navigation and construction of networks), and Constructivism emphasizes on situated learning and COPs.
(c) Learning that supports autonomy and relatedness –
(d) embed reasons for learning – Under Connectivism-learning as personal growth and knowledge as pattern recognition (Downes) to achieve personal goals and create value networks, and under Constructivism- knowledge and truth are constructed by people and do not exist outside the human mind (Duffy and Jonassen, 1991). Learning as a change in meaning constructed from experience (Newby et al. 1996)
(e) Both support self-regulated learning – Connectivism stresses on autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity and connectivity as property of networks. Constructivism stresses on social learning, and must be viewed as an active process where students actively construct their knowledge, and that learner is central to the learning process.
(f) Both strengthen learner’s tendency to engage in intentional learning process – Connectivism – the capacity to form connections between sources of information, and therefore create useful information pattern, is required to learn in our knowledge economy (Siemens, 2004). Constructivism – the design task, is one of providing a rich context within which meaning can be negotiated and ways of understanding can emerge and evolve (Hannafin et al., 1997)

– The design process is recursive, non-linear, and sometime chaotic
– Planning is organic, developmental, reflective, and collaborative
– Objectives emerge from design and development work
– General Instructional Design experts do not exist
– Instruction emphasizes learning in meaningful contexts
– Formative evaluation is critical
– Subjective data may be the most valuable

– The design process is based on chaos and complexity theory, theory of emergence and self-organisation. Chaos recognizes the connection of everything to everything (Siemens, 2004). Self organization and emergence in learning explains why the process is often “chaotic” and emergent in nature, when interaction among agents leads to connective and emergent learning.
– There are multiple objectives – all defined by individual pursuit of personal objectives, but all inter-related through complex emergent self-organised networks and communities
– Learning is situated at personal (neuro, conceptual) and social level (outside information sources and agents) and thus is distributed across networks.
– Instruction is based on demonstration and modelling, where learning contexts are likely based on PLE and conversation and cooperation (sharing of information). Here cooperation within networks and collaboration within groups, though small group collaboration and personal learning based on lurking emerge as self-organizing phenomena rather than imposition by outside bodies
– Formative evaluation is secondary to learning under Connectivism. Peer evaluation of PLE and artifacts emerged from interaction, conversation and negotiation.
– Critical thinking, curation, digital literacies and “aggregate-remix-repurpose-feed forward” is central to Sensemaking and Wayfinding

What are the common issues for Connectivism and Constructivism?

– Assessment based on “pre-determined learning objectives” may be a problem in a constructivist or connectivist learning environment.
– Connectivism – which is based on the integration principles explored by chaos, network, complexity and self-organization theory needs further elaboration on how those principles are integrated in practice. It seems a paradox when networked learning is heavily promoted within institutional and corporate education and learning environment, but then the challenges remained un-resolved – on openness – OER, open design, open research, open teaching etc., digital literacy development using social media and mobile technology, pedagogy etc. Currently, there are still too many “wicked problems” – where the problems are not clearly defined, and where risk management and innovation and creativity are at “odds” in a complex adaptive system.
– Constructivism – which is based on a social learning approach, encourages active, rather than passive learning and the use of group-based cooperative learning activities, which can be best mediated through telecommunication technologies. “A central strategy for building constructivist learning environment such as situated learning, multiple perspectives and flexible learning is to create a collaborative learning environment”. The reality is that such learning environment often requires students to question each other’s understanding and explain their own perspectives. This is easier said than done. Engagement and participation normally falls into the 1-9-90 or the 10-20-70 pattern, with the majority staying at the edge of Community. This may be due to the different backgrounds and skill levels of learners (i.e. digital literacy capacity), and the often perceived “power” and “group think” issues associated with group learning, with compliance and conformance that could silence the “critical thinkers” and “solo or solitary learners”, or the “dis-allowing” of lurkers or legitimate peripheral learners who often are situated in the networks and COPs.

So, in summary, the absence of specific learning objectives and outcomes has earned the “criticism” for constructivism as “inefficient and ineffective”. This may equally be a challenge for Connectivism to be adopted as a mainstream pedagogy. Unless the specific learning objectives and outcomes (based on competency-based learning) are adequately addressed and resolved, it seems both Constructivism and Connectivism would still be operating in a hand-in-hand “networked” informal learning “paradigm” waiting to be absorbed as new and emergent pedagogy.

May be the assumptions behind Constructivism and Connectivism need to be viewed under a new light, when those similarities and differences are leveraged, leading to a new form of emergent learning theory that meets the societal, institutional and personal goals. The paradoxes may be the catalyst of a transformation in education and learning. Who has got the crystal ball? You :)

Postscript: This blog provides useful information about Learning Theories – Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism and Networked Learning.  However, there wasn’t any mention about Connectivism.  Quite a surprise.