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Discussion – Connectivism and Information Literacy

July 3, 2012

I am interested in learning more about the learning theory of Connectivism  (Siemans, 2005). Connectivism claims that it is a ‘learning theory for the digital age’. It hypothesizes that knowledge resides within connections among networks, and learning takes place when students are able to “construct and traverse those networks” (Downes, 2007, paragraph 1). Rather than technology simply being a tool separate from established learning theories, technology becomes embedded in the theory itself. This is rather different from how I have viewed the relationship of technology and education so far. But Connectivism claims technology actually influences how we think and learn; technology becomes more than a tool.

Many of the principles of Connectivism align quite easily with the standards of information literacy espoused by my professional organization, the Association of College and Research Libraries. Sieman’s theory of Connectivism (2005) states that learning depends on a diversity of opinions, and that the ability to see connections and create new connections is a core skill and critical to continuous learning. ACRL standards state that the information literate student seeks information from a variety of individuals and resources, and “recognizes interrelationships among concepts” to foster lifelong learning. (ACRL, 2000).

Some of the strategies involve showing how students can seamlessly expand their current networks (ie-Wikipedia) to library resources. Embedding library resources into students’ existing networks, and creating spaces for connections to occur are other strategies to consider.

I am reading more about connectivism and information literacy instruction in the hopes of understanding how this learning theory can augment my pedagogical style in the classroom.

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency

Downes, S. (2007, February 3). Half an hour: What Connectivism is. Half an Hour. Retrieved from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3–10.

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