I’ve only just began studying connectivism but I have already developed some opinions of the theory. I take connectivism quite literally, meaning I apply definition to the theory by breaking the actual word down to its basic components. If connect means to join and ism is a condition or state of being then connectivism is the state of being connected. One of the accepted definitions of connectivism is “the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories” (Seimens, 2004). I like the word “principle” in this definition. I believe connectivism is not a learning theory but a conduit of knowledge. Once that knowledge is presented to the learner, the learner must apply the method of learning that is appropriate to enable recall or introduction to long-term memory (LTR) for use in the future. Simply put, connectivism is technology of every shape and form being accessable to millions of people who seek knowledge. Knowledge is not a tangible comodity but it is the act of knowing.

I like Westerns and several years ago, HBO had a series called “Deadwood”, a show about a small but booming mining town in the foothills of South Dakota. The show represents the way life was in the late 180o’s for gold miners in the Black Hills. In one episode, Trixie shot a man in the head for hitting her. In the ensuing chaos, Doc was called and it was evident that the man was going to die but Doc was absolutley amazed that the man was still alive, even able to mutter, “She shot me.” Well, the man died and Doc took him down to his office for an autopsy. Doc had an active interest in medicine and I suppose he even graduated medical school but the show never disclosed that part of Doc’s past. Doc learned most of his skills on the battlefields during the Civil War. Doc cut and prodded but never discovered how the man lived for a full 20 minutes after being shot in the head. You see, Doc didn’t have the internet, at least not on the show.

Here in the real world, many if not most of us, carry a cell phone with applications. One company brags that there are over a half a million “apps” their phones can access. There is at least one computer in every home and if there is not, there is one at work or the neighbor’s house. The internet is the common denominator of technology that we live our lives around. Connectivism is what brings knowledge to our doorsteps. This morning, I sat on my front porch and checked my email, chatted with a friend who lives 3000 miles away, and worked on a school project- all on my cell phone. Then I logged on to my computer in my office, double checked my references, imported a file from a major university, and published a blog using most if not all information I obtained from the World-Wide Web. If I had a mind to, I could post a question and a complete stranger on the other side of the world could answer it. That, my friend, is connectivism to me. It is not a learning process or theory, it is the act of obtaining knowledge from those to whom I am connected, from the systems that bring knowledge to me and puts the world at my feet.

 

References

Seimens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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