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Your group is in favor of Connectivism.

CONNECTIVISM: A NEW LEARNING THEORY

Connectivism is a learning theory. "It sees learning as the process of creating connections and expanding or increasing network complexity" (1). It is a learning theory that uses many different tools and techniques to reach out to students and teach them on many different levels. Connectivism breeds continued learning and continued growth in students by the diversity of learning activities and options students have for being and staying engaged. Connectivism is about making connections for students and with students and then maintaining those connections.

Connectivism is relevant to teaching practice because "it seeks to explain complex learning in a rapidly changing social digital world" (2). Our world is changing and at a fast pace. We, as educators, need to keep up with the changes and one way to do this is by connecting to our students and the world they live in. We connect by taking all of the knowledge we have on a subject and dispersing it to the many different networks our students use; i.e Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google. etc. These connections then lead to learning.

Connectivism supports students because it gives them a number of resources to use to learn and grow. Connectivism can help all students because they depend on one another for information and the publishing of that information. "Connectivist learning is self-directed and flexible, but also offers plenty of opportunities for peer collaboration" (3). Peer collaboration is key to connectivism's success, but also to any classroom's success.

Connectivism works in this way: "flexible learning activities are designed in a way that encourages interaction between instructors and students. Learning is driven by the needs and interests of the learners" (3). Because of the peer collaboration and individual learning that occurs, connectivism uses social media to facilitate learning. The learning is centered around each individual student, but offers them a collaborative component so they can form connections and spread their knowledge to other networks and other students.

The social, digital world is relevant to us because that is the world we live in now. That world is happening all around us and we need to be on the same level as our students. Here is a video that can be used with our colleagues or students to explain the connectivism learning theory.



With every learning theory comes some challenges. Rita Kop of the National Research Council of Canada wrote about some challenges that can come from connectivism. Connectivism deals with a lot of self-directed learning and Kop goes on to write that this is one of the challenges of the learning theory. Kop mentions that students have to manage time, set their own learning goals, find resources, and try out new tools and make them work. In the formal classroom setting these tasks would be the teacher's responsibility, but in an autonomous learning environment they are all the student's responsibilities. Kop states that "the motivaltional factors in a traditional adult education classroom are very important in learners either participating in learning or not. If confidence levels are low, it is not likely that a person will take up connectivist learning. The technology itself, or the activity the learner is taking on, could form a barrier and will have to be engaging and interesting enough for the learner to work his or her way through problems that will come up during the learning journey" (Kop, March 2011).


Resources:
1. Wikipedia
2. Education 2020
3.Kansas Library Association
4. YouTube
5. Athabasca University
For more information on Connectivism, please visit George Siemens' blog: Siemens blogOr Stephen Downes website: Stephen Downes Website
George Siemens and Stephen Downes are the authors of the learning theory, connectivism.