6-A-3: Responding to Connectivism

Overall, I generally agree with connectivism being considered a valid learning theory, as stated by Group A’s Wiki. My conclusion for this point of view results from my own belief/definition of what learning is, and also my own learning experiences that have occurred through the concepts of connectivism (some use technology while others do not, but the main concept is present).

I believe that learning can be defined as the acquisition of new knowledge. While other learning theories (behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism) have proven themselves to support this definition of learning, I also believe that concepts of connectivism can lead to the acquisition of new knowledge through the sharing of information and ideas. In addition, I also think that technology and the tools of the Internet have help facilitate the transfer of this knowledge between networks.

Another reason I support connectivism being a learning theory is because I believe the sharing of information is just as important as the content itself, when trying to acquire new knowledge. A few years ago (before the social media boom) I worked in scientific research. To make a long story short, we were trying to develop a drug that stopped the degeneration of neurological pathways that lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s, some cancers, and schizophrenia. We hit a wall when our drug just wasn’t binding to the enzyme site, and our experiment wasn’t working. Instead of going back to the textbook (trying to further master the content), my advisor told me to go to the library and look up research articles regarding the antibody and drug we were using. We called the lab groups who had published the papers and consulted with them about our problems and their problems. As a result of sharing information through our network connections (the scientific community), we came up with a new hypothesis that was successful for our experiment. This experience supports the main concept of connectivism as a learning theory because the acquisition of new knowledge needed to solve our problem resulted more from sharing information with other networks, rather than continuing to master the content at a deeper level.

Interestingly, some of the pictures I took dealing with this experiment kind of demonstrate the concepts of communicating through network connections.  Here is one of them.

Cellular Connections

Today, learning through connectivism is all around us using the tools of the Internet. Web 2.0 technologies and social media sites like Pinterest, Wikipedia, Google, Diigo, Reddit, Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook, allow individuals to acquire new knowledge and learn new information. The acquisition of this knowledge occurs by sharing information between an infinite number of networks. The use of technology facilitates the ease of sharing this information in a manner that is both organized and fast. As technology improves and the field of social media expands, I believe that the concept of connectivism will be accepted as a valid learning theory by a majority of individuals.

 

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