George Siemens defines connectivism as a “learning theory that integrates technology, social networks, and information”. It is absolutely impossible to think about learning without thinking about technology. Even a temporary absence has debilitating effects on our ability to operate on a simple level. When did technology make print culture so obsolete that it has driven many Barnes & Nobles out of business? Has human mind changed the way it used to learn? It hasn’t changed but adapted itself to the 21st century’s agenda. Technology is an integral part not only of learning but also of society on the whole. Whether we are doing research on Black Holes or just trying to bake a cake for our neighbor’s party, technology is there every step of the way.
Learning is fun when you have the right tools. For me, the right tools used to be my books. I spent half my life doing research in a library, checking out tons of books every time I went to that sacred place! I have to admit it has been a while since I went to the library. Everything, well almost everything, is just a click away. My learning has changed drastically with technology. Google scholar has helped me with my work both as an educator and as a student. YouTube, Facebook and a cornucopia of blogs are some of the tools relevant to my research. Conlan, Grabowski & Smith (2003) allude to Confucius’ proverb: “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” Apparently, Confucius was neither an auditory learner not a visual one. Like many learners, he seems fall into kinesthetic style. For me learning is multidimensional. Technology incorporates all the elements of this proverb. It speaks; it has visual elements; and it shows me how to do things on my own. I see this aspect as catering to all learning styles: auditory, visual and kinesthetic.
As Siemens (as quoted by Davis, Edmund & Kelly-Bateman, 2004) remarks, learning does not happen in vacuum. In order for learning to occur, we need to create networks between social media, people, structures, and systems that enable us to share ideas. Siemens calls this phenomenon “cross-pollinating”. It not only breeds unique ideas and also fosters creativity by questioning and reorganizing our prior knowledge and experiences. Networking creates complexity by shaking yesterday’s foundation and building stronger new ones. While every single learning theory provided me with essential tools to understand how I learn, they also helped me think as an educator. Connectivism suits adult learners and fits into the andragogical theory. That said, more and more adolescents take part in this kind of learning as much as, if not, even more than adults. With all the theory floating around, school systems realize the need to throw in technology into that mixture. 21st century has created some powerful tools that has changed the face of learning and education.
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning.
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism.
Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 93–98
Seimens, G. “Connectivism”. Video Segment, Retrieved from Walden U Learning Resources