Defining Connectivity (More Completely)

First, I described how VCU, my home institution, wound up “being at the intersection of Connected Learning and Open Education.”  Then I discussed what educational theory and practice look like at the intersection. Then I identified connectivity as the essential, unifying pedagogical theme found at the center of connected and open learning. Connectivity is what we want to happen and what we want to document in terms of student performance. I’ve defined connectivity before, a day or two before I went into my dissertation prospectus hearing. Then I identified it here, at #DLRN15, and here, at #OpenEd15. If you were to follow the links, you’d see that the wording changes a little bit each time, but the idea is essentially the same:

Connectivity is act of documenting, creating, and acting on connections across people, content, space, and time.

How does connectivity equate to learning? The concept of connectivity can be divided into two components: actions and objects being acted upon.  Some of this gets a bit ridiculous and obvious to my mind, but I was asked to make these connections explicit and who am I to object to making connections explicit?

The Actions of Connectivity – What literature supports them as actions of learning?


  • Argument 1. Required for Reflection: Bergson (1917), Schon (1982), and Csíkszentmihályi (1991) suggest that individuals are not necessarily aware of what they are doing while they are doing it, making documentation essential for those who what to understand, replicate (or not replicate) their performances in the future.
  • Argument 2.  Required for Peer Review/Concept Testing: Harel and Papert (1971) argue we must make thoughts concrete so that we might reflect, but also so that we may test them against the understanding of our peers.
  • Argument 3.  Required for Metacognition:  Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy lists documentation as a step in metacognitive knowledge development.


  • Argument 1. Required for Untarnishable Joy:  Bruner describes the ability to go beyond the information given as one of the untarnishable joys of life. (Do we really need additional arguments?)
  • Argument 2: Required by Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Argument 3: Required by 21st century skills lists.

Decision-Making (e.g. problem solving, purposeful or strategic movement).

  • Argument 1. Required by Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Argument 2.  Required by 21st century skills lists.

The Things Connected – What literature supports these objects as resources for learning?


  • Argument 1: For “interacting with the other” for understanding what you don’t know and transformative learning (social constructivism, adult education)
  • Argument 2: For collaboration, cooperation, or crowdsourcing for collective knowledge creation (social constructivism)
  • Argument 3: For better understanding and refining one’s own ideas (constructionism) 


  • Argument 1: Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky)
  • Argument 2: Threshold Concepts (Meyers and Land)
  • Argument 3: Schemas and Scaffolding (Constructivists, social and otherwise)

Space & Time.

  • Argument 1. Transferability.
  • Argument 2. Reflective Practice (Schon)