As I embark on the massive open online course that is Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, I reflect on what the concept of connectivism is for me. Its important to note as I explore ways of working and experiment with my practice that my understanding of connectivism and its application to education within my context is fluid.
Firstly, my practice is based in beliefs of three (3) learning theories; constructivism, connectivism and transformative learning. Within my practice they are entwined and do not exist without the others. I have explained this through an analogy of the body's energy systems. There are three chemical systems that build ATP within the body's muscles (ATP is the chemical broken down to provide energy for muscular contraction). These three systems work simultaneously to provide energy dependent on the activity undertaken by the body. At any one time, a specific energy system is dominant but this will change with activity change.
This is how the three learning theories I follow are implemented into my practice. At any particular time they are all present, however a specific one will be dominant. The dominance is managed by me, but not necessarily decided by me.
Within constructivism, I am particularly emphasise social constructivism, which aligns with connectivism. Clearly within a constructivist environment the learner is building their own knowledge. Its important to teach them how to connect to the knowledge of others (I term this collaborative knowledge in my classes, although networked learning possibly describes this better) and therefore not rely on themselves holding all knowledge - an important lesson for teachers!!
I am yet to facilitate a completely open environment where learners seek and make their own connections, as I have been concerned with the productivity of such connections (social friends vs critical friends). This does however work against transformative learning theory where the power in the learning relationship is passed to the learner.
I've used a connectivist approach to vastly increase my pool of knowledge for a range of things. Technology has enhanced my ability to do this, exponentially increasing the connections I can make and maintain. Yes connectivism is possible outside of technology hardware and software, its potential is however limited.