Learning Theories Take #1: Constructivism VS Connectivism

AmyLXDGuru

Before I delve into comparing Constructivism with Connectivism, I would like to share with my readers my opinion on all learning theories. I believe that all learning theories are important and can be effectively utilized based on the content being delivered and the audience it is being delivered to.  In this article, I will be comparing two of my most favorite learning theories: Constructivism and Connectivism

Constructivism

Constructivism promotes learners to formulate sophisticated opinions and create their own knowledge by asking pertinent and reflective questions; seeking answers to the questions using prior knowledge and hands-on activities; and making real-life connections.  The instructor’s role is to encourage and guide the construction and reconstruction of concepts taught in the classroom.  Lesson planning strategies should be carefully selected based on students’ learning styles, achievements, and needs.

“Constructivism assumes that learners are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. Instead, learners are actively attempting to create meaning. Learners often select and pursue their own learning.” (Seimens, 2004, p. 2) Therefore, to utilize constructivism effectively, natural curiosity should be encouraged in all learners.  The learner should often be asked to reflect on “why? And how?” questions to search for solutions, and to make sense of the world around them which, in turn, will deepen understanding and develop critical thinking skills.  Keeping this in mind, a theme-based curriculum and incorporating real-life connections is the best and most effective approach in delivering constructive lessons.

Connectivism

Connectivism is a way to deliver instruction and promote learning through digital means and the help of technology.  Connectivism provides the teacher with the opportunity to deliver content to diverse learner populations using the help of technological tools, different nodes, and online platforms. 

According to Seimens, the following are principles of Connectivism:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances. 
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.  (Seimens, 2004, p. 4)

Through Connectivism, the instructor can reach the learners with different modalities through differentiated instruction without having to spend too much time or stress over being in so many places at the same time.  For example, when planning a lesson, the instructor can utilize Google Classroom where she can post an assignment with links to different types of information sources such as YouTube, Quizlet, virtual labs, animations, worksheets, editable assignments, etc. 

Connectivism also provides learners with the opportunity to learn from one another and to give or receive immediate feedback.  It allows the learner to become a life-long learner instead of memorizing facts.  For example, Google Classroom helps learners interact with each other and with the instructor creating a positive learning environment.  Furthermore, when students turn in assignments on Google Classroom, the teacher can check their work almost immediately and provide feedback via comments on Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, etc… 

In conclusion, Constructivism and Connectivism are very similar to each other because they both promote critical thinking skills, learning through real-life connections, and becoming life-long learners.  As an educator, it is important to be able to utilize different methods to make sure that the learners are engaged; their learning needs are met, and they are guided towards becoming independent learners.  Connectivism promotes the learners’ curiosity about the world around them, whereas, constructivism helps learners with learning through real-life experiences.  Constructivism guides students to ask “Why” and “How” questions; whereas, Connectivism guides them to find the answers to those questions not only through their own experiences but also through the experiences of others who share them through different nodes. 

REFERENCES:

Seimens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. eLearnSpace Everything eLearning, 1-6.

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