As I reflect on connectivism and learning, and the importance of both in a highly technological information age, it seems almost an obligatory tip of the hat to the media and technology pioneers who transformed our lives into a communications-oriented society. For, I no longer have to rely on such static forms of communication such as newspapers, radio, and television to get my news and information. Instead, dynamic forms of communication such as iPads and iPods are literally available at my fingertips, all to help guide my thinking and decision-making in a technology-savvy 21st century for important personal, educational, or business decisions that might call for teleconferencing or satellite communications.
Siemens (Laureate, 2010) couldn’t have been more right in his Connectivism Learning Theory video when he described our world as becoming “increasingly complex” in a highly fragmented information society. I’m a journalist, and as a disseminator of news and information that spans several decades, there are times even when I have to shake my head over today’s access to information and the mind-blowing number of ways there are to get it. Briggle (2009) aptly described our contemporary information society as a metamorphosis from “philosophy of information to the philosophy of information culture.” Boy, wasn’t he on the mark?
Given the number of information outlets today that didn’t exist even a few years ago, it’s not difficult to grasp the enormity of this philosophical transformation. No longer do we have to wait until the next news cycle to determine if our world is safe. Just break out the iPad, smart phone, Blackberry, or satellite radio, and all the news and information that’s consumable is there for the asking. What works best for me, especially in a learning environment, are blogs, wikis, and discussion boards – all important tools for collaboration in a distance education environment. Because students learn from each other, as I have found out as learner and educator, it is instructive to pick up on new knowledge when there is collaborative exchange, knowing others often pose the same questions as I for increased understanding.
But as important as these communication tools are, educationally and otherwise, a connected learning community is still a formidable labyrinth for reform and societal change. It’s the kind of reform Dewey (1938; 1997) advocated nearly a century ago, when education was on the precipice of reform and connectivism was nowhere near the level where it is today. Thanks to technology, mainly computers and portable digital devices, learning communities are assuming a more active role through all the electronic gizmos, which are all aimed to keep a community knowledgeable, connected – and in touch.
Briggle, A. (2009). From the philosophy of information to the philosophy of information culture.
The Information Society, 25: 169-174. doi:10.1080/01972240902848765
Dewey J. (1938; 1997). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Connectivism Learning Theory [Program
Video]. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecology.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=