Connectivism is a learning theory geared toward the inclusion of technology into the learning environment. It differs from previous learning theories in that it focuses less on how much knowledge one possesses and more on ones ability to find the knowledge they need. With the tremendous increase of content and information that has become available through the advancement of technology, cultivating the skills to successfully locate and utilize information is becoming much more relevant and meaningful to members of a digital community.
Connectivism encourages the learner to utilize a variety of source material in order to create knowledge. The key to this method of knowledge construction is the ability to sift and sort through the incredible amount of information that can be found about almost any topic. One of the stills most crucial to this process is the ability to take a skeptical eye to the initial content and verify its veracity. Being able to identify accurate and useful information is the most important step in the process of synthesizing knowledge from these various sources.
One of the most noticeable differences between connectivism and the more classic learning theories (behaviorism, constructivism, and cognitivism) is the lack of a linear path to learning. The classic learning theories focus on fixed steps toward learning and gaining knowledge. The theory of connectivism allows the learner to go on a journey of discovery and reflection while cultivating the knowledge that they are searching for. Removing the lock step education process lets the learner feel more in touch and involved in their learning process. This “connection” allows them to take greater ownership and involve them selves to a greater extent in their own education.
The connectivism theory also allows for the inclusion of Personal Learning Networks and Communities of Practice. These varied sources of content provide useful support and assistance in the process of synthesizing knowledge. Being able to rely on peers and colleagues with a wide range of experiences and individual knowledge is a tremendous boon to the students ability to find the information they need.