Technology That Guides Learning

Using technology in the classroom

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice March 29, 2012

Connectivism states that “Knowledge resides in the patterns of how different concepts are networked” according to George Siemens in the course video “Connectivism as a Learning Theory” (Laureate Inc., 2011). In other words, connectivism is when the learner “plugs” into another network to receive the information that he/she needs at the moment. Because of this, connectivism is primarily considered a new type of learning theory as it more closely relates to learning through technology.

Siemens also introduces the three roles that a learning theory should have. These include the task of explaining how learning occurs, allowing us to create future models of learning, and help us to make sense of the present. Using connectivism, these three roles are easier to see. Connectivism shows us how we learn through focusing on our connections. When we are in need of information, it will show the thought process of where we go for the information. Whether we use Google or social networking, we are finding the source of information most appropriate for our inquiry. Connectivism also allows us to visualize what sources of information work best for learners and create future models of learning. As our society becomes much more in need of social learning, we are able to use that to create useful resources, i.e., YouTube and Pinterest. Lastly, using connectivism, we are able to make more sense of the present because we have a better grasp of why and how we learn in certain ways. Connectivism is helping us to create future trends in education and stay atop of new instructional strategies.

In order to incorporate the information that connectivism offers us along with using technology in the classroom, we look at cooperative learning. As it is stated in “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works,” cooperative learning “focuses on having students interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, p. 139). Students are able to make more sense of the material being introduced when they have the option to work collaboratively rather than individually. Using each other as resources gives them a different knowledge base and, quite simply, a different way of hearing information instead of always coming from the teacher.

Important information to keep in mind when constructing cooperative learning groups include:

  • Organizing groups based on ability levels should be done sparingly.
  • Cooperative learning groups should be rather small in size.
  • Cooperative learning should be used consistently and systematically but should not be overused. (Pitler et al., 2007)

This particular chapter on cooperative learning gives several examples of instructional strategies to use within the classroom. In the area of multimedia, educators can integrate this learning theory through the use of video making. This relates to the idea of connectivism by helping create new trends of relaying information to a classroom. It also gives students a chance to interact with each other and explore different skill sets. Keypals (ePALS), WebQuests (Zunal), Web Site Creation (TOWeb), Collaborative Organizing (Google Calendar), Shared Bookmarking (del.icio.us), Course Management (Moodle), and Web-Enabled Multiplayer Simulation Games (Jigsaw Classroom) are web resources that allow students to work from multiple locations to solve a problem or work on a project. Students can work with peers in their classrooms or even peers in another state. In referencing Siemens, this contributes to connectivism through offering different ways to learn and creating future models of learning. Students are also given the chance to work and organize collaboratively toward a common goal. Lastly, Communication Software, such as Skype, gives students a chance to interact with others without the constraints of time and location. This technology also gives our students the network tools to use each other as resources when working toward a common project.

The connectivism theory is helping to shape the future of education. As educators continue to find new instructional strategies that include technology, we will also continue to create new paths for students to use to gain their knowledge.

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program nine: Connectivism as a learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.