Sorting Initial Impressions of Connectivism

As I learn more about connectivism, I find it to be a remarkably comforting knowledge and learning theory. My first impression is that it is a theory that fills in a lot of gaps present in its predecessors, as well as building on them and extending them with new, insights. I am still working a lot of this out, but her is my initial take.

In truth, the world in which we now live is a different place than it once was. If we accept the premise that since the rise of digital networks, in particular the mainstream arrival of the internet, something fundamentally has shifted, perhaps subtly but significantly, connectivism starts to look very appealing. The problem is that this new reality has grown so complex so quickly that it is exceedingly difficult to parse and isolate what specifically is new and different, if that is even possible or reasonably achievable. Where connectivism begins to get traction for me is that it is an adaptive process, which seems to be precisely the right kind of notion for deepening our understanding of this new and different reality. Moreover, there is an organic aspect of the theory, in the development of connections and networks both individually and collectively, that touches on an area that strikes me as phenomenological, to a degree, deeply experiential, even  ephemeral, but ultimately, innately human. This is think is where there is great distinction from all theories rooted in a quasi-mechanical worldview.

The premise that the act of learning is in the formation of one or more connections is very difficult to negate for me. The more I have begun reading about brain function and neuroscience recently, areas that inform connectivism, persuades me that this theory has greater merit. It seems to me that an individual’s capacity to seed and tend a greater and deeper volume of connections, even blending seemingly disparate concepts or items, is directly related to their knowledge of their reality. In conncetivism knowledge is literally the connection, which is fluid and emergent, blooming in unexpected ways, opening the possibility of even more connections, potentially even capable of propagating itself. Thus, a node flourishes as a result of the density and variety of the network to which it is connected. I am thinking of an aged tree’s complexly dense and tangled root system. Perhaps the network extends to to the immediate ecosystem and beyond. Simply on an anecdotal level, this theory has a ring of truth to me, making it even more compelling. Yet, there is still a lot more to investigate before drawing firm conclusions.

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