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Connectivism is a kind of learning theory that was created by George Siemens. It also can be understood as educational theory or view or global strategy.

Connectivism was a core principle used for designing the first MOOCs (unlike the "modern" versions that come out of elite universities and rather represent in our opinion a propaganda purpose)

Quotes from Siemens (2004)

Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories most often utilized in the creation of instructional environments. These theories, however, were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology. Over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn. Learning needs and theories that describe learning principles and processes, should be reflective of underlying social environments.

Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.

Principles of connectivism:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.


As of 2019, connectivism is often cited, in particular to emphasize that learning happens in an environment where everyone is connected all the time. Otherwise, according to Goldie (2016) [1]“Connectivism’s claim to be a new theory for network learning has been questioned as many of its underlying principles can be drawn from theories from the traditional epistemological paradigms, particularly constructivist theories, which are still considered fit for purpose (Verhagen 2006 [2], Foster 2007 [3]; Kerr 2007 [4]; Kop & Hill 2008 [5] ; Bell 2011 [6] ; Boitshwarelo 2011 [7]; Ravenscroft 2011 [8] ; Lange 2012 [9]; Clara & Barbera 2013 [10]).”

Goldie (2016) investigate is usefulness for medical education, [1]: “Connectivism is one of the most prominent of the network learning theories that have been developed for e-learning environments. It first appeared in Siemens (Siemens G. 2005. [11] on-line publication “Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age”, ideas which have been developed by Downes (2005 [12], 2006 [13], 2012 [14]). It is beginning to be recognized by medical educators (Sandars & Haythornthwaite 2007 [15]; Sandars & Morrison 2007 [16]; Lau 2011 [17]; Mehta et al. 2013 [18]; Downes 2015 [19]; Flynn et al. 2015 [20]) due to its claim to provide a lens through which teaching and learning using digital technologies can be better understood and managed.”. The authors conclude that, while connectivism may not be sufficiently developed as proper learning theory, it can inform medical teachers for their classroom practice and refer to Bell's (2009) [21] suggestions.

Connectivist learning design models

Bell (2009) [21] makes the following suggestions:

A benefit of connectivism is that, as Cormier (2008) recommends, it is allowing a community of people (working with learning technologies) to legitimize what they are doing. Educators wishing to extend the use of social media within their practice can refine and spread knowledge more quickly through membership of multiple communities.So what are the steps that an educator who wishes to adopt connectivism can take?

  1. Follow the blogs of those who innovate with educational technologies
  2. Experiment (within your comfort zone) with web services and tools that might enrich teaching and learning in your practice.
  3. Use, publish and share resources through blogs, wikis, photo and video sharing sites.
  4. Encourage students to use the web for scholarly resources – being critical and selective, and attributing sources.
  5. Assign student activities that enable effective use of media to report process and, where appropriate, outcomes.6.Make explicit the concept of connectivism in student support activities so that they can exploit it in their own independent learning


  • Downes, S. (2005, December 12). An introduction to connective knowledge. HTML
  • Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge, HTML
  • Verhagen, P. (2006). Connectivism: A new learning theory? PDF (retrieved March 2011).
Blogs, collections


cited with foot notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Goldie, J. G. S. (2016). "Connectivism: A knowledge learning theory for the digital age? Medical Teacher, 38(10), 1064–1069.
  2. Verhagen P. 2006. Connectivism: a new learning theory? . Available from:
  3. Foster T. 2007. What connectivism is. Online Connectivism Conference: University of Manitoba; . Available from: http://www,
  4. Kerr B. 2007. A challenge to connectivism. Transcript of Keynote Speech, Online Connectivism Conference: University of Manitoba; . Available from:;e=Kerr_Presentation
  5. Kop R, Hill A. 2008. Connectivism: learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? Int Rev Res Open Dis Learn. 9:1–13.
  6. Bell F. 2011. Connectivism: its place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning. Int Rev Res Open Dis Learn. 12:98–118.
  7. Boitshwarelo B. 2011. Proposing an integrated research framework for connectivism: utilising theoretical synergies. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 12:161–179
  8. Ravenscroft A. 2011. Dialogue and connectivism: a new approach to understanding and promoting dialogue-rich networked learning. Int Rev Res Open Dis Learn. 12:139–160.
  9. Lange M. 2012. Talk: connectivism; . Available from:
  10. Clara M, Barbera E. 2013. Three problems with the connectivist conception of learning. J Comput Assist Learn. 30:197–206.
  11. Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Int J Instr Technol Dis Learn 2:1–8; . Available from:
  12. Downes S. 2005. An introduction to connective knowledge. Stephen’s Web. Available from: =33034
  13. Downes S. 2006. Learning networks and connective knowledge; Available from:
  14. Downes S. 2012. Connectivism and connective knowledge. Essays on meaning and learning networks; Available from:
  15. Sandars J, Haythornthwaite C. 2007. New horizons in medical education: ecological and Web 2.0 perspectives. Med Teach. 29:307–310.
  16. Sandars J, Morrison C. 2007. What is the net generation? The challenge for future medical education. Med Teach. 29:85–88.
  17. Lau VKH. 2011. Computer-based teaching module design: principles derived from learning theories. Med Educ. 48:247–254.
  18. Mehta N, Hull A, Young J, Stoller J. 2013. Just imagine: new paradigms for medical education. Acad Med. 88:1418–1423.
  19. Downes S. 2015. e-learning symposium plenary. Glasgow: AMEE.
  20. Flynn L, Jalali A, Moreau KA. 2015. Learning theory and its application to the use of social media in medical education. Postgrad Med J. 91:556–560.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Bell F. 2009. Connectivism: a network theory for teaching and learning in a connected world. Educational Developments, The Magazine of the Staff and Educational Development Association, 10.


  • Cormier, D. (2008) Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum. Innovate.
  • Downes, Stephen (2012). Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, Essays on meaning and learning networks, National Research Council Canada ISBN 978-1-105-77846-9 PDF (free 600p. e-book), Version 1.0 – May 19, 2012, retrieved nov 2012.
  • Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10. Retrieved 13:44, 9 March 2011 (CET) from
  • Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge PDF,
  • Mohamed Amine Chatti, Matthias Jarke, Christoph Quix (2010). Connectivism: the network metaphor of learning, Int. J. of Learning Technology, 2010 Vol.5, No.1, pp.80 - 99 (Abstract)



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