Maybe I should have saved my Connected Learning diagram for this week! Connectivism is in some ways very similar when it comes to the idea that of knowledge building and learning is cyclical and constantly evolving depending on interactions within our networks.  Though, connectivism seems to diverge a bit due to it’s focus on the connection of knowledge through online networks and “nodes”. While this digital/online realm is also a part of Connected Learning theories it is not the sole environment on which it focuses.  I can also see elements of constructionism (Papert) and constructivism (Piaget) within the connectivist theory. Again, however, connectivism seems to hinge more on constructing meaning through virtual interaction, rather than physical, face-to-face interaction or experiential, project-based learning.

I think whenever one is creating an online module it’s important to consider this theory.  What online resources can I link to my module so participants can expand their knowledge on the subject? How can I ensure learners can interact with other users of the module to discuss issues, successes, and next steps with the project? However, with any making activity, constructivism and constructionism will probably be the main learning theories employed with connectivism as supplement to those theories.

My main concern with connectivism is the potential for learners to be inundated with too much information without being able to decipher accurate information within that cacophony of digital noise. As Kop and Hill wrote, “Connectivism stresses that two important skills that contribute to learning are the ability to seek out current information, and the ability to filter secondary and extraneous information” (http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/523/1103, para. 7).  This is especially crucial in our current digital climate and brings me back to the idea of “flow” as stated in the “E-Learning Generations” article (https://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2012/02/e-learning-generations.html).  For connectivism to truly work, learners must be able to manage the constant flow of information efficiently and effectively or risk perpetuating incorrect information (which we know is all too easy to find online) that masquerades itself as factual.

My secondary concern with connectivism (and I see this with teens in The MiX) is that open-source designs or programs are used frequently, but the changes are not made to the design or re-shared on the same network.  I think there is still some value in teens taking a 3D design that they did not create, putting it into slicing software, and learning the physical operation of the 3D printer.  However, if they are not contributing a new or improved design to the online depository, is it truly connectivism?  The cyclical nature of the network and nodes no longer comes into play and learners are simply taking knowledge from others instead of contributing said knowledge.  With adult learners I don’t think this same issue would apply as much, but it has me a bit concerned about implementing connectivism with younger learners.  I would argue that they need to truly develop their ability to interpret accurate information and sources from the plethora of inaccurate sources and bad actors on the inter webs, before being able to effectively use connectivist theories for self-exploration.

I certainly see elements of connectivism in this course.  When folks pull in information from sources beyond the weekly readings, comment on or question fellow students’ posts, and build on ideas stated on other posts we’re creating our own nodes within our class network.  I think these elements are very useful.  They force us to think beyond just what we posted, and explore new sources or perspectives we never anticipated.