Connectivism: A Learning Theory For The Digital Age

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Connectivism was proposed as A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens in December of 2004. This literature review attempts to determine what contribution Connectivism has made to the field of education in general and online learning in particular. In the process, Connectivism’s value as a theory is reviewed in terms of its own definition of learning as ‘actionable knowledge’. The results seem to account for why Connectivism, in its purist form, is best understood as a post-education attitude or approach for industries and professionals wishing to stay current in their field. (Siemens, 2004) And why large scale education applications like MOOCs bear only a surface level resemblance to Connectivism as it was proposed.
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(Simens 2004, 2005, Knowing Knowledge 2006, Downes book)

As a theory of learning, early accounts of Connectivism have little to say about education, educators (teachers) or learners. Siemens notes that, in the digital age, learners no longer need to store information for future retrieval thus rendering earlier concepts of learning like Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism irrelevant. (2005) Further, with single focus careers becoming a thing of the past learners will need to change jobs and fields many times making formal learning, as preparation for employment, less relevant. (2005) Siemens proposes Connectivism as an alternative that puts the individual and their needs at the center of learning. Using technology individuals are able to connect to diverse and unfiltered sources of information, remain abreast of innovations and ideas and act by making decisions based on their own system of priorities and current needs, whether professional or personal. (Seimens 2005 and
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In Connectivism: Learning Theory or Pastime for the Self-Amused? (Siemens, 2006) argues that educators must redefine both learning and the process of learning to bring it in line with the digital age. This refocusing of curriculum and pedagogy would “lay the foundation for transformative education - one where technology is the enabler of new means of learning, thinking, and being.” (2006) Siemens considered this to be essential because technology had connected and changed learners to the point where their needs could no longer be met by traditional concepts of higher education. Specifically, Siemens stated that because they are, “digitally literate, constantly connected, socially-driven, engaged, visually-driven, etc… today 's learners are different.”

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