Today I read Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, an article by George Siemens. Siemens is a theorist for digital age/progressive learning. At the beginning of this article, he discussed the three broad most common learning theories that everyone learns in a basic psychology class: behaviorism, cognitism and constructivism. However, after he mentions this, he says, “These theories, however, were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology. Over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn” (Siemens, 2004). As technology progresses, learning must progress as well, and it must adapt to the realization of the usage of new age digital learning tools that are at mankind’s fingertips.
Connectivism is an alternative theory to the learning theories that Siemens talks about after naming some flaws from the previous three common theories. Siemens boldly states, “Including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age. We can no longer personally experience and acquire learning that we need to act. We derive our competence from forming connections” (Siemens, 2004). This is the introduction to his proposed theory called “connectivism.” The principles of connectivism are as follows:
- Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
- Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
- Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
- Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
- Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
- Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
- Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
- Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision. (Siemens, 2004)
Siemens also says, “As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.” As time goes on, so will technological advances. Learning will and should progress in to the future, as days and years pass. Why shouldn’t there be a change? a new theory? a new learning revolution? New tools can and will be utilized by scholars of all ages from toddlers to the elderly as they are created. They are created to help us learn, so why not take the time to learn how to use them and learn how they can help US learn. In a digital era, the current state we’re in at this point in time, we need updated tools and material. The material is already in existence, so let’s use it, put it in the classrooms and make NEW positive change.