Connectivism in learning

The team at Ceed Learning is curious about concepts like connectivism. Curious about people, technology, society at large and the interconnectedness of being human. Currently we are exploring the concept of personal learning networks (PLNs) and how this phenomenon facilitates learning.

In the context of the learning world there are people such as George Siemens and Stephen Downes who created one of the first MOOCs – an environment where people could collaborate and share knowledge and ideas using Google Groups, online synchronous forms, their own websites, blogs, flickr, etc. One could argue that our very own Prof Johannes Cronje did the same with his virtual M.Ed in computer-assisted learning here in South Africa about a decade ago. These are environments that George Siemens calls connected learning environments.

Concepts such as PLNs have also once again become popular, but this time in the digital world of learning. Christin Manning published an article last year on how learning professionals are turning to PLNs to keep up to date with their own learning about learning in the digital age. John Green’s Ted Talk 2015 on “The Nerd’s Guide to learning everything online” challenges us to map our worlds through participating in communities of learning enabled by channels such as YouTube.

All of these concepts link to Charles Jennings’ 70:20:10 framework, which explains the relationship between experiential, social and formal learning. So it would make sense for an astute forward thinking learning specialist to seek out opportunities to adopt connectivism and PLNs for their own learning and for that of their clients.

On the other hand, in the context of society at large, there are people such as Sherry Turkle (Ted 2012) who argues that the more connected we are, the more alone we become. Sara Maitland argues that in this age of constant connectivity, people need to learn to enjoy solitude and Susan Susan Cain (Ted 2012) argues that there’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.

Needless to say, we remain curious on this topic of connectivism. Should we encourage digital connectivity in the learning context? Is there a good way to do this versus a bad way? Should we rely on informal learning to the extent as encouraged by Charles Jennings, or should we take note of the warnings shared by Sherry Turkle and Susan Cain? Are we over stimulating our learners or under stimulating them? Should we be stimulating them at all?

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