“There are also those that argue that as a result of new technologies, the very nature of knowledge is changing. For instance, Siemens (2004) argues that knowledge is no longer generated and validated solely or even mainly by scholarly study, but by the ebbs and flows of discussion among millions of Internet participants, a theory he calls ‘connectivism’” (Bates & Sangra, 2011, p. 46).
I wanted to take a moment to respond to this quote from Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning. I tend to agree with Siemens’ concept of connectivism as a new form of learning. Because we have so much access to information, the way we learn has changed. While it used to be necessary to go to an institution or some form of expert to learn something, the same is not true today. Access to information is no longer limited by the contents of your local library and your knowledge of the Dewey decimal system. You also don’t have to go to a college or university to access scholarly, academic information.
Online forums, wikis, blogs, scholarly search engines, and open universities are changing the face of modern education. Not only is access to information very different, but the way we interact with the information and share it with others is changing, as well. Learning and knowledge seems to be held in a diversity of opinions; an ongoing conversation helps us to facilitate continuous learning. Also, because of the array of both good and bad information, it makes us, as learners, better critical thinkers. Being able to gather, synthesize, and compare information from different sources is a crucial skill.
It is exciting to think about the future of learning and education as the currency and breadth of available information continues to grow. The future also promises that as technology gets better, more and more people will be able to join in on the conversation, expanding the idea of connectivism even further.
Bates, T., & Sangra, A. (2011). Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.