Social-constructivism and Connectivism


Learners construct their learning. Social interaction is vital.  The principles of social-constructivism include: active, social, and a need for motivation.  The work of Dewey paved the way for the acceptance of Vgotsky’s work.  The terminology of constructivism versus constructionism is inconsistent and some authors use the terms interchangeably.  Social-constructivism should be thought of as a philosophy instead of a theory according to some authors. Cognitive, social, and hybrid are the strands of social-constructivism.  The key to making it work is language and communication.  Producing skilled students is an important goal of this type of learning, accomplished through constructing their knowledge and community participation.

The zone of proximal development was presented in the lecture this week.  It was developed by Vgotsky with a goal of giving students work that challenges them.  The work does not need to be step by step.  Knowledge is gained through communication and discussion.  Implementing social-constructivism into education is accomplished in stages.  Developing a framework, training in group interaction procedures, repeating critical content, establishing an accountability system, and setting up a common experience are stages of implementation.  A social-constructivist classroom would look different than a traditional classroom. Teachers guide instead of tell, they create a safe learning environment for communications, they modify previous answers of what is “right,” and teachers provide an environment where students can create their own meanings.  Problem-based and case-based learning are modes of social-constructivism.  I presented on problem-based learning and was aware of these roots.  This type of learning does favor students who are social, however, this type of learning challenges those who are introverted and self-growth and discovery are the benefits.  The courses I have taken with a social-constructivist foundation have been difficult for me, but the benefits and growth from participating are numerous.


The idea that knowledge exists everywhere and can be accessed and organized by the learner.

Siemens-Origins of connectivism, book titled “Knowing Knowledge”

Siemens also created a MOOC titled “What is Connectivism”

The eight founding principles  of connectivism include: knowledge rests in a diversity of opinions, learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes, learning may reside in non-human appliances (i.e. database), capacity to  know more is critical than what is currently known (seeking new information is more important than what we know), connections should be nurtured, connections can be seen between fields, up to date knowledge is the intent, and decision making is a learning process.  The expectation of a connectivist approach is that the student brings expertise to the table.  New networks are formed, will expand, and then fade.  Social networking, Flickr, YouTube are examples of connectivism tools.  Learning resources were thought of as “things” (i.e. books) and events (i.e. classroom, lectures). The problem with this is that t is content specific and rigid.  Learning resources may now be looked at as a flow or melting pot of resources.  Connectivism  is though of as the learning theory for the digital age.  Students are called to be the creators of their learning, they create content, and teachers take on a mentor or coaching role.  The strengths of connectivism are that information is flexible and easy to obtain through technology.  The critics say that too much information is available and difficult to filter, there are reliability issues, and that connectivism is not a theory at all, but a tool.  On the defense is the thought that the founding theories are outdated and were developed before technology and that network formation is actual learning.  Putting the principles of connectivism into practice was familiar to me.  The idea of creating a wiki or using other Web 2.0 tools is something I continue to contemplate, brainstorm, and integrate into my online classroom. I teach technology courses and studied information science, so connectivism works for me.  A theory or a tool?  A tool was the consensus, however, it may be too new to say for certain.  Perhaps connectivism is a theory in the making.

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