Connectivism Essay

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Although not in celebrity limelight as xMOOCs, Siemens and Downes acquired ‘online fame’ blogging on distribution of knowledge and Connectivism as a learning theory of the digital age (Kop, 2008, online). Intensification of learning, knowledge and understanding via the expansion of one’s personal network is the essence of the Connectivism, and its primary characteristics are autonomy, diversity, openness, connectedness/ interactivity (Siemens, 2005; Downes, 2005). Rich debate on MOOCs contributes little to the pertinent questions of the teacher’s role (guiding or facilitating), the teacher’s and learner’s experience, the learners’ prior knowledge and skills and their use of digital technology, amongst others, and yet there is a considerable gap in the research in these areas. I will argue against the Siemens’ premise that “for one to learn one must connect” from the stance that the connection itself does not guarantee occurrence of learning. The clarification of what we already know from the research on online learning (Conole, et al., 2008) and the findings of the empirical studies on participants’ and facilitators’ in cMOOCs (Kop, 2011; Kop, et al., 2011; Mak, et al., 2011, Milligan, et al., 2013) will be used to support the argument.

5.2 Familiarity with technology and prior knowledge

Connectivism is anchored in the Web 2, in interactive Internet, its social networking and collaborative, learner-centred environment (Alexander, 2006; Bacon & Dillon, 2006; Downes, 2006). Affordability of social networking tools have changed the way students learn, communicate and create new artifacts (Braun & Schmidt, 2006; Brown, 2000; Dillon, 2006; Prensky, 2001; Oblinger and Oblinger, 2005). The new generation of students are active prosumers rather than producers and consumers (Toffler, 1980) who co-design their learning environment and develop own unique approach to online learning using digital technology (Clouder and Deepwell, 2004; Strijbos, 2004; Vonderwell, 2003). Connectivism places an emphasis on Self Directed Learning (SDL) and a Personal Learning Environment (PLE). It offers to learners a number of tools which differ across the disciplines (Oliver, et al., 2007; White & Liccardi, 2006). However, it is wrong to presume as Connectivism does, that all learners are comfortable with chaos; all good at self-directed learning and all are digital natives (Conole, et al., 2006; Kenedy, et al., 2006; SPIRE, 2007). Further research is needed in this area. The questions of preparedness and familiarity with the 2.0 technology affordability would be pertinent to further unravel a mystery of less than 10% course completion (Meyer, 2012). Unfamiliarity with the technology might add to the reasons for a low retention and for connecting but not learning.

5.3 Expert’s support and scalability

Debate on guided instruction has a long tradition (Mayer, 2004; Shulman &Keisler, 1966). On one side of the argument are...

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