Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual.


Social Learning
Social learning has always been around. We as individuals know very little of most things--only from our individual perspective. Thus, we are often like the blind men feeling an elephant and describing the parts they encounter--but never quite arriving at the whole. In discussion with others, the whole is gradually formed thus enabling us to view the entirety, and arrive at a "holistic understanding"--a much bandied about term. 

Connectivism and Social Learning Theories are inter-related. In order to understand the relation between them it is important to know their definition. “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired, and the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. Also critical is the ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday” (Siemens, 2005, para. 24). The Social Learning Theory of Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Bandura (1977) states: "Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action" (Bandura, A. 1977). The images that I posted on the blog explain the relationship between the Connectivism and Social Learning Theories. These days we are all ‘connected’ and access to information is very easy. When knowledge is acquired with ‘social interaction’ and collaboration, it is most beneficial.

Cooperative Learning is an excellent strategy for Social Learning Theories. Cooperative learning provides students with the opportunity to work in groups with their peers, either using technology or just an activity in the classroom. “The instructional strategy of cooperative learning focuses on having students interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning. When students work in cooperative groups, they make sense of, or construct meaning for, new knowledge by interacting with others.” (Johnson, Johnson, & Stanne, 2000). By helping each other with the projects or the assignments, students learn to communicate and work collaboratively.

Technology plays an important role in cooperative learning. It facilitates “group collaboration, proving structure for group task, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face” (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K). Connectivisim is a way for people to interact with each other on the internet to gain knowledge that is networked. Wikis and blogs are good examples of Connectivism and Social Learning. In a wiki, people collaborate and work cooperatively to gain knowledge or information. In the video Connectivism as a Learning Theory, George Siemens discusses Connectivism and describes how this theory meets the criteria for being a new theory of learning. According to him, Learning Theory has three roles; it explains how learning occurs, allows us to create future models of learning, and lastly, helps us to make sense of the present. I was very impressed with George Siemens’ explanation of Connectivism and the Learning Theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism and their relation to Connectivism. I agree with him that knowledge resides in connections and “Learning is an act of forming networks and navigating networks of knowledge” (Laureate, Education, Inc.).

I explored the Social Learning Based Technologies that were suggested in this week’s resources. Out of the six suggested social learning technologies that support and facilitate social learning approaches including communication, collaboration, and cooperation, I use four of them for ‘connecting’ with my peers and students. The first one is Facebook – social networking site. By using Facebook I am able to connect with my friends, teachers, and classmates in a social setting. We have many educational sites that are also connected to Facebook and share valuable information via a social setting. The second tool that I use with my students is Webquest. The third tool that I use regularly is Google Docs. Instead of using flash drives or e-mailing documents to each other, I use Google Docs with my grade level teachers to share information on lessons and documents. Lastly, the blogging site that I use everyday is Blogger (, instead of Edublogs). I maintain a classroom Blog and my students and I connect with each other every day. They post comments on the assigned work and I regularly comment back on their posts. This learning that they are able to accomplish after leaving their classroom is very exciting. Besides maintaining a blog, I Skype ( with different teachers around the country and my students love this experience. “Communicating with students in other cities, states, and countries broadens the perspective of students and challenges them to learn about other cultures, languages and issues throughout the world” (Pitler, H. et. al).

“Cooperative Learning promotes social interactions; thus students benefit in a number of ways from the social perspective. By having the students explain their reasoning and conclusions, cooperative learning helps develop oral communication skills” (Guinevere Palmer, Rachel Peters, Rebecca Streetman). Cooperative Learning is one of the instructional strategies that link with the principles of social learning theories and Connectivism. All the social learning based technologies of multimedia; web resources and communication software facilitate Cooperative Learning.

Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.
Guinevere Palmer, Rachel Peters, Rebecca Streetman: Cooperative Learning: Retrieved on January 31, 2011 from
Johnson, D.W., Johnson R.T.,& Stanne,M.B. (2000). Cooperative Learning Methods. A meta-analysis. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.
Laureate, Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Constructionist & Constructivist Learning Theory [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: George Siemens
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved on February 1, 2011 from


  1. Preeti,
    I am curious. Did you do as much with technology before taking your Walden's classes as you do now? You seem to know so much about exploring different technology tools for the classroom. Are there other teachers in your school that utilize tech tools?

  2. Hi Preeti,
    I so enjoy your postings--comprehensive in scope and insightful. Thank you for all the extra efforts you put into your work.

    Social learning provides a rich framework for almost any content area, in my experience. Students learn much from the sharing process--refining schemas as they interact--getting the benefit of models--and learning to problem solve collaboratively. Technology can facilitate cooperative experiences and expand the options for the people students can work with.

    Thank you for posting.

  3. Preeti

    How do you feel you can incorporate facebook as one of the technology pieces you can use in the classroom? I am having this issue of confidentiality and monitoring the conversations on the site if students are allowed to connect while at home. Since we do not have jurisdiction over the home environment I am apprehensive about this social network.

    Tammy's school implemented facebook in one of the high school clsssrooms and within a few hours they had to discontinue the use of it because of inappropraite language and content.

  4. Response to Kathy,

    Before taking the Walden course, the only technologies that I used in the classroom were PowerPoint presentations, along with Brain Pop and United Streaming videos.
    Only after I started my studies at Walden did I get all the exciting ideas about other aspects of technology. This is one area that I always get excited about and try to implement all that I am learning into my classroom. I love podcasting, and Voice Thread is so easy to use that I think I am going to use it very often with my students. I would have never had a blog, podcast or Voice Thread for my students if it were not for Walden.

    Unfortunately, I am the only one in my school (besides the computer teacher) who uses so much technology in their classrooms. The other teachers normally just use Brain Pop and smart boards in their classrooms. I am the only ‘geek’ who goes overboard with this technology. It is addicting and I love it!

  5. Response to Dr. Krauss,

    Thank you!

    I agree with you “Technology can facilitate cooperative experiences and expand the options for the people students can work with.” Students relate better to their schoolwork when we use technology for their instruction.

  6. Response to Jeremie,

    I do not use Facebook with my students, only with other teachers, friends, and classmates from high school or college. If a student tries to be my friend, I do not accept the invitation, as I do not want them to know about what happens in my private life. I will never feel comfortable to befriend either a parent or a student on Facebook.

    I had mentioned Facebook as a social learning for “us” teachers and classmates and to get connected with educational sites.

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