Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

George Siemens writing in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning concludes:

A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.
Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.

The article sketches an outline of an alternative to behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism as theories of learning. Much more work would be needed to expand these ideas to provide a complete theory of learning but this is a useful start. There are interesting parallels between the idea of “connectivism” and recent thinking about aggregation of various services as an alternative to the LMS.

(Via OLDaily.)

Blogs in Higher Ed: Personal Voice as Part of Learning

By Ruth Reynard in eLearning Dialogue:

The use of Internet technology to facilitate interaction, communication, and collaboration is well documented but its use in establishing and developing ‘personal voice’ as part of learning is also now being addressed through the use of blogs. Finding personal voice as a pedagogical method is important to establish learner identity and focus, and journaling has long been recognized as an effective way to provide space for this to occur. The blog, however, provides a context in which personal voice can be ‘published’ by the student, which means that attention is given to content, relevancy, and connection with learning outcomes to a higher degree than a traditional journal submission. The idea that more than one person will view the work is quite powerful in promoting a sense of ownership from the student. Teachers can also benefit from ‘hearing’ the personal voice of their students to begin to really understand the learning path of each student through a course.

This is a useful input to thinking about the potential for educational use of blogs.

(Via EduBlog Insights.)

Why do teachers get to learn the most?

From Athabasca via e-JIST

A common report from anecdotal writing over many generations of educators is that it is the teacher who usually learns the most during the process of gathering content materials, designing, teaching and evaluating student performance. In this project we address this issue by developing an innovative instructional design in which collaborative groups of students working at distance create, share and assess learning content (in the form of learning objects) with their peers through online learning portals. The results of this process are assessed via surveys, discussions, reflective essays and peer evaluations. We conclude that instructional models based upon student construction of content and orchestration of learning activities can reduce instructor workload, provide opportunity for students to acquire new skills while increasing their subject content knowledge, and create a lasting legacy of re-usable learning objects.

ePortfolio challenge

From Auricle

Ok, let’s say we’re keen to see our students value and use e-portfolios. Or, let’s say we’ve developed an educational programme that ‘requires’ them to use e-portfolios.
Comfortable?
Are you prepared to practice what you preach? Will you keep your own e-portfolio and allow, say, your mentor, manager, supervisor, or peers, to view and make judgements on the quality of your entries? Better still, let’s build it into your annual appraisal!
Still comfortable?

An interesting piece that concludes with a provocative challenge

Media literacy

Via Mathemagenic
Media literacy: from reading to writing and beyond
Richard MacManus:

I’m currently reading Lawrence Lessig’s new book, Free Culture, which is available as a free download under a Creative Commons license. I’m only up to pg 64, but already I’ve discovered some great new ideas. One of them is “media literacy”. This is the best definition I’ve found so far of media literacy:
“The ability to read, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of media forms (television, print, radio, computers, etc.).”