Criticism of connectivism

Diversity is critical to learning. When we learn and understand in a vacuum, void of appropriate context – or lack of awareness of the ideas that “book end” critical ideas – we suffer for it in terms of our ability to conceptualize and see an entire discipline.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve encountered numerous posts critical of connectivism as a learning theory – some authors suggest that I don’t understand social constructivism, others question my assertions, and still others wonder if a new theory of learning is actually needed. Here are some posts critical of connectivism that you may find valuable in shaping your own conception of learning:
Bill Kerr: the network is not god: Richard Dawkins once said that there is such a thing as becoming so open minded that your brains fall out. George seems to be falling into a similar trap, becoming so enamoured with the power of the network, to the point of denying the importance of the individual and the learning that occurs inside “our heads”.”
(Bill has the starting point of a nice wiki on learning theory)
Pløn Verhagen: Connectivism: a new learning theory?: “The questions that Siemens presents are not to be placed at the instructional level, but at the level of the curriculum. The instructional level deals with how learning takes place, and learning theories are relevant at that level. The level of the curriculum is concerned with what is learned and why. At that level Siemens’ connectivism represents his views on a structured development of knowledge that fits the current times and the kind of information skills that pupils should acquire for this. Siemens finds shortcomings in the learning theories that are focussed on the learning processes of the individual. In this Siemens makes a mistake because he finds fault at the curriculum level with theories that do not belong at that level.”
“Connectivism” Interesting, Not Sure It’s a Learning Theory: “I am not sure we can really call it a learning theory. Siemens defines learning as “actionable knowledge” but this is using learning as a noun. Learning is a verb! Learning is the acquisition of actionable knowledge, not the knowledge itself. Think of learning in this way and it presents several problems for connectivism as a learning theory.”
Patricia Deubel: The Value of Connectivism: “I was intrigued by his theory, but wondered: Does his theory have merit? Do we need another theory of learning? Is anyone buying into this? How is it different from constructivism, which also raised my eyebrows when I first learned about it way back when?” (this article does end up speaking favorably of connectivism)
Chill Out George: “The ordinary punter in the street doesn’t care if we classify connectivism as a theory or not. Perhaps it is important for Georges’ own self worth and his acceptance within the traditional education community, but from an ordinary e-learning practitioners point of view, this type of debate is one reason why the traditional model of education has failed to keep up with the changes in society – it doesn’t talk about the learners, or the needs of the learners, it talks about the gate keepers of education and the needs of the gate keepers of education.”
Wilfred Rubens – the article is in Dutch…the conclusion essentially states that connectivism “sells” (as a name? an idea?) and that is the reason for the interest it has attracted.
If you are aware of articles or resources critical of connectivism, please post a link in the comments (I moderate comments to avoid spam…so it might take a few hours before your comment is posted).
I am in the process of putting together an online conference on connectivism (and learning theories in general) in early February…and I would like to ensure that voices critical on connectivism are heard.

2 Responses to “Criticism of connectivism”

  1. Tony Forster says:

    See Massively Multiplayer Games Constance Steinkuehler. At the 35 minute mark she talks about MMORPGs and collective intelligence. She sees it not as a hive mind but a network of complimentary skills.

  2. paul justice says:

    The “Chill Out George” post is not a criticism of connectivism – it is a comment about the discussion you got entangled in with Prof. dr. ir. Pløn W. Verhagen.
    Traditional education is failing a huge percentage of our population – whether it be by delivering mass produced mediocre experiences or it is by exclusion (for whatever reason).
    Technology provides us with opporotunities to make drastic changes to the “way we do education”, but the majority of traditional education establishments see it as a threat. We therefore need a new approach (or theory if you prefer) – connectivism could be that new approach, or it might not be.