My Take on Connectivism

Matthias Melcher (I think that’s his name – had to dig around his x28 blog for a bit) provides an interesting commentary on why he feels connectivism should not be seen as a learning theory. I’ll quote it at length:

IMO, a definition or description would be more appropriate for simpler things that do not suffer when they are isolated and formalized. I think, a complex, emerging concept like connectivism is better understood by its relationships. So, rather than “What is…”, I would prefer something like “How is it related”, or connected, to other ideas, or even, to the world.
Connectivism would, IMO, suffer from restricting definitions such as being a learning theory, which has to obey traditional criteria of an empirically provable but very narrow scope of application. Even though the theory is addressing extensive changes and emancipation, this will not increase the perceived scope of what the theory explains but, instead, the prevailing resistance against such changes will further diminish and restrict the conceded scope.
The whole new view, however, that is enabled by connectivism, extends to much more than learning and schools. Downes’ and Siemens’ discussions shed new light on fundamental concepts, such as rules versus patterns, complicated vs. complex, equivalence vs. similarity, and coping with ambiguity and uncertainty. And these consideration render many entrenched practices of the entire knowledge industry questionable.

2 Responses to “My Take on Connectivism”

  1. Eyal Sivan says:

    I agree with Matthias’ view that Connectivism is larger than a learning theory. So much so, that I came up with the identical term to describe a very similar concept(I tend towards the noun, connective). Although I first discovered your blog several months ago, I finally managed to write a post about it at http://theconnective.org/2008/08/26/connectivism-as-learning-theory/. I have been reading your work with great interest and feel that our ideas overlap significantly (not in name only). I would love your opinion on my work as well.

  2. Ken Anderson says:

    I apologize in advance for my inability to understand how connectivism is either a new learning theory or something even larger. I have a tendency to think of it as merely a technology-issue, in the educational technology realm as posited by Bates and Poole (2003). Digital connectivism is just another means of transmitting or accessing knowledge (however defined), little different in substance from book accessing, for example. I can connect to a book. I can connect to a database or wiki or whatever. While the new connection may have the qualities of increased speed, volume, intensity, distribution etc., I think the principle is similar. But I would welcome any help in broadening my understanding.
    Reference:
    Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). Effective teaching with technology in higher education: foundations for success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.