Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Connectivism (Siemens' Theory of Knowledge)

I would like to begin my discussion on connectivism with the following quote found on

Knowledge is growing exponentially. In many fields the life of knowledge is now measured in months and years. Gonzalez (2004) describes the challenges of rapidly diminishing knowledge life:

“One of the most persuasive factors is the shrinking half-life of knowledge. The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.”

We all live in a different type of reality where the traditional learning styles of yesterday do not meet today’s learning needs. In today’s society, information changes too quickly for us to process all of it. Therefore it is extremely important for us to form networks so that we have access to individual/experts will be able to help and guide us.

Technology has changed the rate at which we receive information as well as how we process that information. According to the about quote, this information is is coming at us faster than ever before and it’s going to just keep getting faster. Processes and technology are constantly changing and in order to keep up with these changes, the way we think about learning must change. Students need to be able to think dynamically. They need to be able to process information quickly and determine what is pertinent to them. We need to re-examine how we educator our students today, most of which is based on the main three theories of education, behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. At this point in our world, we do not need a new theory to help us deal with the never ending and forever changing technical environment in which we live; we need an entirely new approach.

That is where the connectivism theory comes into play. It takes the circumstances of today (technology), a person’s ability to synthesis and retain information into account.

The fact of the matter is, it is impossible to retain all of the information that is thrown at us in this day and age. It is getting harder to focus and to decipher what is and what is not needed. That is where connectivism comes in. Connectivism deals with the ability of people/students to actually be able to evaluate and construct their own meanings. This is much easier to do when you know where to obtain information, and is certainly much easier than trying to retain all of the information.

When giving my initial thoughts on the course, I stated that “I’m not sure about this tweeter, twicker thing, who has the time”. Jeff’s response was that it has helped him develop a network of teachers or resources that have come in very useful over the years. I believe Jeff was referring to connectivism. He was letting me know he has a large network of people with whom he follows and corresponds that each have their own specialty and interests. He has the nodes of his network in place and they are easily contactable via twitter and twirl. Now that I have a better understanding of the theory of connectivism, it occurs to me that blogs, twitter, twirl are all part of our networks, we can watch them, build contacts and learn from them. This is technology responding to the rapid changes it is bringing about.

Learning networks are created so we stay current and continually acquire experience create and connect new knowledge. Many in our society are realizing what many before the such as John Dewey who wrote “Experience in Education and believed “Educators are responsible, therefore, for providing students with experiences that are immediately valuable and which better enable the students to contribute to society” or “Uncommon Learning” written by Henry David Thoreau on Education which address how people/students learn through experience and that schools are unprepared for the task of lifelong learning.

Connectivism allows us to not only to be teachers but facilitators, we show, we demonstrate, we introduce and then facilitate the learning process instead of taking control of it


Jeff Utecht said...

I love it! Keep thinking, keep exploring networks, and think about how you can build yours.

Torchgirl said...

Even though Siemens is at times vague, and all-knowing? I think quite a bit like him. It's important that we build a path for fellow educators to do the same. Let's just say, "they're 1/2 way there"