At first I just assumed I would continue to identify with Constructivist learning theory. When I originally started learning about the various theories of Behaviourism, Cognitive, Humanistic, etc., Connectivism had not even been identified yet!
I think what I appreciate most about Connectivism is that it takes in account our increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times (Herlo 331). Ultimately it is a model that reflects our knowledge based society, in which “learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources (Siemens 2004) and our technical reality. According to it’s founder, George Siemens, connectivism demonstrates how knowledge does not exist only in the mind of an individual but is rather distributed across a network that exists on two levels: internally as nodes of connections in our brains and externally as a mesh of our awareness, understanding and adaptations (Siemens 2006 p. 10).
But what made me realize that Connectivism would not only apply to my approach but also what I am teaching and who my students are was Siemen’s recognition that in our current context “know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge” (2005). For students studying art history the resources are unlimited. The internet and high definition video technology has made it possible to see the art from the entire world on your device. Images and objects and scholarship is a click of the mouse away. However what Connectivism does is it underscores the importance of discernment in how knowledge is structured. As Siemen’s explains, learning is a process of connecting nodes, but it is also a series of decisions (2005). According to Herlo, “decision-making is itself a learning process” (333). Critical thinking is choosing what to learn and asking questions about the meaning of incoming information. Among the main principles of this learning theory is that our ability to see connections between concepts, ideas, and fields is a skill but one that is contingent on a shifting reality, an information climate that is constantly in flux.