Previous weeks topics have been concentrated on understanding behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism, learning theories in the traditional sense. This week the focus was on connectivism and adult learning in the 21st century, the digital age, and how technology has reorganized how we learn. According to Siemens (2004), traditional learning theories “were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology” (para. 1), and defined how learning occurred.
Connectivism has been called the learning theory of the digital age, defined by integration of new technology, and information and social networks (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). According to Siemens, connecting to the wealth of information available today requires more than individual internal learning; using technology to create lifelong learning and social networks is needed, in other words, tapping the external sources (Siemens, 2004). Foley (2004) suggests as the world becomes more complex and integrated, adult learning has become very important. In simple terms adult learning is, “a collection of theories and methods for describing the conditions under which the processes of learning are optimized” (Trivette, Dunst, Hamby, & O’Herin, 2009, p. 1).
Connectivism forms a cycle of knowledge that expands as the adult learner’s network or connections grow (Siemens, 2004). In other words, through connections we store information externally to gather when needed. According to Stephenson (as cited in Siemens, 2004), personal experience and learning is no longer enough to remain knowledge competent; forming connections and collecting knowledge through collecting other people’s knowledge and experiences, is the only way in the digital age. I do not disagree with that statement but I think the degree of importance of social networking depends on many factors, including age, culture, gender, occupation and course of study.
There are numerous theories of learning and I can certainly relate to the early theories of learning. My early learning experiences were in directed environments where students used the same learning materials and information, and participated in the same activities. I also have been influence by cognitive theories. For the most part, my formal learning still involves reading printed information (whether online or off) and reflecting and internalizing new knowledge. Back in my undergrad days, I recall how lucky I was to have a part time job in the field I was studying so I could relate concepts and processes.
I think the biggest change has been the internet, use of online readers, and to a degree, social media. Formal learning activities have certainly changed with fully online programs, and using learning modules such as Blackboard, which enable access to scholarly databases, online learning tools, and other information without leaving home. I was not sure how creating a learning mind map was going to be beneficial, but without it I would not have reflected back through the years of learning, from Catholic schools in the 60’s, formal and informal learning throughout my career in business operations, through higher education periods, leading to my current enrolment at Walden. There are certainly more that can be added but will save that for another post!
Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Connectivism. [Video webcast]. George Siemens. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2820276_1%26url%3D
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Elearnspace. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Trivette, C. M., Dunst, C. J., Hamby, D. W., & O’Herin, C. E. (2009). Characteristics and consequences of adult learning methods and strategies . Research Brief, 3(1), 1-33. Retrieved from http://tnt.asu.edu/files/AdultLearning_rev7-04-09.pdf
Tlap’s Mind Map