Connectivism – George Siemens
In the world of Higher Education and among well-motivated and intelligent students there is probably a case for seeing Connectivism as one theory of learning but not the only one and Siemens conclusion that “The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe” seems almost absurd . . . I doubt whether many oil companies would concur that the oil pipe is more important than the oil that it contains . . . the oil pipe will not per se bring in revenue. The water pipe network in my house will not keep me warm in winter . . . it is, of course, one of the essential elements in my heating system but there are others equally essential, viz. boiler, pump, water, electricity and gas. Take out any of these and I will feel very cold.
“When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill”. This statement is undoubtedly true, but this “ability” is often a skill learned much earlier in life . . . mostly, the necessary skill has been taught by a skilled tutor, e.g. learning to swim, to play a musical instrument well, etc.
Connectivism cannot be regarded as an all-embracing, universal learning theory; it is more a reminder that we have many more learning tools available to us, living in the Digital Age, and a reminder, too, that technology is changing fast.
Our five-year old children are not likely to pick up an IPad and form a social network so that they can learn to read and write – they are taught to read and write.
Furthermore, Connectivism is mostly, mediated through language and culture, and, in a universal world that is so disparate in many ways, both of these factors can impede successful learning.
Moreover, for a learning process to be successful, students need to be told (or learn) how to discriminate between worthwhile knowledge and that which is worthless or misleading – peer-group networks are not sufficient