New Light through old Windows (not the Chris Rea album)

“Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age” by ‘theorist’ George Siemens (nice job title) is a paper that was published in 2005 in the ‘International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance learning’ in which he imagines a new epoch in learning, devoid of the constraints of the ‘classic’ learning theories behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. Throwing in hip concepts from the middle of the last decade such as chaos, self-organisation, complexity and networking (the only thing that’s really missing to complete buzzword bingo would be ‘AI’ and ‘Fuzzy Logic’) he states that ‘Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual.’ which for me sounds like a constructivist ideal of learning.  For him the learning individual sits within a (social or electronic) network of nodes and hubs in which knowledge flows both ways, but with the ‘pipe being more important than the content within the pipe’. Don’t know whether I agree with this. Even in our networked world (I recently counted 15 wireless devices hooked up to our domestic wifi router. This is a 2 person household!) content is still king and learning is still done within a constructivist framework. Yes, our motivation for learning has shifted and our potential sources for knowledge have ballooned as much as the number of connected items we use for learning, but we can’t escape the necessity for quality educational content. Even the biggest pipe can’t deliver good knowledge is it’s full of sewage.

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