Thursday, December 1, 2011

Connectivism and Social Learning In Practice

This week our class discussed social learning theory, which similar to cognitive theory, covers a good amount of ground, is supported by many technological tools, and ties together much of how learning happens in a classroom environment.

Part of the social learning theory is connectivism, which Siemens (2011) states integrates technology, social networks, and information.  When working together, students have a chance to bounce ideas off of each other, seek each others help, and work together toward a common goal.  The educator needs to be more of an excellent planner and facilitator in this environment, as most of the work and teaching during a lesson is done by students. 

Connectivism is supported by the idea that students able to collaborate and use technology to build artifacts can bring a deeper level of understanding to a concept.  Examples of technologies students can use are creating a Power Point presentation, constructing a Voice Thread, or podcasting.  When these types of artifacts are created, students are engaged, and demonstration of knowledge is easy to see. 

Social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, or class blogs allow students to communicate their learning, or in this case the artifacts they have made.  By including links in their messaging, students can share their creations with anyone in the immediate or global community.  This is another strong component of connectivism, the idea that humans can connect with more humans than before. 

Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski (2007) define cooperative learning as a strategy that focuses on students interacting with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning.  Students are able in well-planned cooperative learning groups to create knowledge together.  Assignments are designed in a way where students depend on each other and have opportunity to build communication and decision making skills (Pitler et al., 2007). 

The components of cooperative learning as described above show strong examples of social learning theory.  Using technology to build artifacts and learn together correlates with cooperative learning’s need for interdependence and positive interactions.  Social networking in connectivism is also evident in cooperative learning, as students build important communication skills. 

I looked online this week to see if I could find additional resources on cooperative learning, even though our class text book does a solid job of giving examples and explaining cooperative learning.  Below is a link that gives 9 class activities that support cooperative learning, some already covered in our class. 

The link is from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. 


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program nine: Connectivism as a learning theory. theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.Retrieved from

     Kennesaw State University. (2011).  Bagwell College of Education, Educational Technology Center.  Retrieved on 11/30/2011.
      Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD


  1. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the weblink about cooperative learning, it really simplifies the strategy and the examples are great.

    Do you use any social networking tools with your classes? I experimented with secondlife a few years ago with one of my classes and have mixed opinions about the perceived benefits of using the program as an educational tool. Networking sites such as Facebook and Edmodo seem to be much more beneficial and worthwhile for getting students to cooperate.



  2. Michael-
    I agree with you that blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are definitely the way to get your students more involved. I attended a distance learning PD session this week held by a group of local teachers. What they are doing with their classrooms makes me insanely jealous, but I figured I'd share.

  3. Hi Tom,

    I actually am in the process of bringing up an Edmodo page for my two groups of students. My team teacher and I were talking about putting a webpage together, then decided Edmodo is a more interactive way to go. I'm looking forward to how our students will respond to it!

    Glad the link was useful!


  4. Hi Jay,

    Thanks for sharing the site. There ARE some amazing things being done. I like the video about the teachers from northeast Ohio and how they talked about technology and our students. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Michael

    I believe that the most important aspect of a child's education is their interaction with other students and teachers. I have to agree with Tom if we can incorporate the sites that students use daily we will increase the amount of participation we get out of our students. I think that the most important thing is getting students interested in the assignment or the project. We can do this by getting more interactive objectives like jigsaw assignments or other interactive group assignments.