Connectivism – The latest learning theory

Noel Perera
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The latest major learning theory of ‘Connectivism‘ comes from the rise of online learning itself, and is quite recent. Connectivism is a form of experiential learning which prioritizes the set of connections formed by actions and experience over the idea that knowledge is propositional.

It questions that there is any such thing as knowledge at all; instead, knowledge is just the connections we have access to.

Crowd-sourcing is closely related to connectivism; the idea that we are all together smarter than any one person is the basis of almost all networked learning. In connectivism, the more people are connected, the smarter we all are. However, because traditional assessment methods are largely absent from these courses, the only assessment method that can be used is self-assessment.

This type of learning is obviously not suitable for those who need credentials to enter professional fields.

From the connectivist perspective, learners should choose courses and information tailored to their own goals and abilities. Instructors of connectivist classrooms do not have direct relationships with individuals (of any depth). Instead, they create information ahead of time and students engage with it or not, as students wish to do.

The instructor still supports learning by providing scaffolding to support learners to make connections with other students and with resources in the virtual world.

Like Constructivism, Self-Reflection and Self-Assessments help learners continuously improve their learning by actively reflecting on the processes they use as they engage in learning activities.

The difference is that there are no instructor-controlled assessments at all. The only assessments available during the course are peer-review and computer feedback. During the course, the instructor does not provide individual guidance, but is merely another participant. Instructors are mainly responsible for technical issues and wrangling behavior. The success or failure of the course largely depends upon the mix of students who show up and participate.


Source: ‘Learning theory and online course design’ by Martha Schwer and Jennifer Lewis.

Noel Perera

Author / Trainer

Noel Perera

Noel Perera has helped thousands of English learners, online and offline, during his 12+ years of coaching. His coaching includes wide variety of English language workshops for young adults, adults, teachers and business professionals. Noel Perera is a former IT student, whose IT career was crushed with a passion for English. Finding a new career path as an English language coach was destiny.