A Course Utilizing Connectivism Principles

Context: An introductory course to the web design & interactive media program at a design college
Rather than a lengthy description, I’ll focus on the concept of the course primarily to offer some specific pedagogy used in the course and hopefully attract discussion of classroom/e-learning practice.

Participants will each experience:
1. Understanding how to implement and manage a variety of social networking processes and tools including: weblogs, wikis, content aggregation, personal portals, social bookmarking, podcasting/vodcasting.
2. Reflective learning environment and collaborative learning with other class participants and the global web environment.
3. Focus on developing new learning skills (lifelong and self-directed learning) and implementing tools as an extension and expansion of learning and knowledge construction.

Assessments and ongoing processes:
1. Facilator introduces a topic of core value to the Interactive media industry each week (participants are involved in topic selection later in the course as well as what tools and processes they perfer to use)
2. Participants research the topic and locate a minimum of three resources that informs them about the topic.
3. Participants post a reflective response about the topic emphasing their understanding of the topic, and most important – their thoughts about how they are affected by the topic personally and professionally.
4. Participants comment on at least three other participants comments – reflecting, asking questions for clarification, and sharing how they understand the response.
5. Participants subscribe to a minimium of three RSS based resources about the topic and share these urls in delicious.com.
6. A weekly journal entry about what new processes/experiences they learned about how to learn
7. Participants also create a personal weblog on whatever topic most interests them and contribute at least weekly.
8. Participants are introduced to Personal Learning Environments as one the topics at the beginning of the course. They are introduced to several personal portal environments as a way of beginning their PLE and work on development of it throughout the course – they have the option of sharing aspects of their PLE with others (Netvibes Universe).

Currently this is a face-to-face classroom with extensive use of online activities. The classroom facilitates implementation and management of social software and personal productivity tools (cloud computing) and generates a collaborative process with discussions and sharing of experiences with various tools and topics.

Topics often are accompanied with specific tools that best implement the process related to the topic: Web 2.0 – blogs, aggregation; PLE – personal portals (Netvibes, Pageflakes, iGoogle); Communities of Practice – forums, wikis; collective intelligence – wiki, social bookmarking; podcasting/vodcasting – studio equipment to create podcasts/vodcasts; personal weblog – web hosting services.

The facilitator offers experience with a wide variety of tools and their related collaborative processes, technical details and support, and participates with the learners contributing as a participant, sharing reflectively about the topics with the learners.

Each learner implements and manages their learning environment and the variety of tools they choose to use in the learning process.

I would greatly appreciate your comments/questions and feedback!


8 Responses to “A Course Utilizing Connectivism Principles”

  1. George Siemens Says:


    One of the first considerations in designing a course is to consider the learning familiarity with technology. As your course is focused on web design, I would imagine familiarity with technology is not the most critical concern. However, you’ll want to be careful about how many tools you make available to learners. For example, in CCK08, we’ve taken a large number of tools and focused on creating a distributed conversation with the intent of having participants experience the process of sense making as they spend more time in the course. i.e. our intention is to reduce many of the traditional comfort zones in courses and encourage exploration and “wayfinding”.

    In your course, as a formal course in a college, you may find it best to introduce a limited number of tools and to do so in a staggered manner.


  2. webstuff2 Says:

    Thanks for your comments George. Actually, the course design intentionally involves learners in exploring the variety of technologies as we expect them to use the technologies throughout their studies and part of the learning here is to experience the implementation and management of the technologies. It gives them a solid orientation in the variety of technologies they will be responsible for providing clients, and helps them discover personal tools that add to their PLE. It is not expected that they like or choose to use each of the tools as much as experience them in order to make personal choices.

    I am somewhat confused by your comment that too many tools could be a problem here, yet you state the intention of cck08 as encouraging exploration and wayfinding. I think that is exactly what our course is accomplishing.

  3. Sarah Stewart Says:

    I am thinking that the majority of students taking the connectivism course are already familiar and comfortable with a number of the tools that are being used. But if I took that approach with my students, they’d all walk out. Two or three communication tools would be the extent of what they could manage.

  4. webstuff2 Says:

    I understand your wanting to limit the tools used in a course. The course I was referring to is an introductory course to the field of interactive media design. They explore the range of applications over the 11 week quarter and not all at once. Also, these tools of social networking are a vital part of designing for clients, so they need to understand them and the various activities they generate. In teaching this course for 18 months now, I find they can handle the applications well, to the extent that they are expected to understand. What is more interesting is the focus on developing self-directed learning skills in the process of collaborative learning. I have seen many of them transform themselves once they realized the “power” of learning on their own and with other people instead of just listening to the professor. Many, but definitely not all of them, are continuing their social networking as a serious learning process as they participate in other classes after this experience. That is our primary goal.

  5. sarah stewart Says:

    There you are, it depends on the context in which you are teaching. My course is for registered midwives who are not techno savvy and do not see it as an important part of their lives. Plus, the course only runs for 7 weeks. So any work I do with them is very much a quick ‘look see’. What I am hoping is that they see the potential for social networking once they have finished the course.

  6. Wayne Says:

    I would suggest not directly talking about “social software” as such but about “new ways to study and research” using digital technologies. George Siemens has an excellent brief post about this (which I haven’t found yet). I am preparing a presentation to a small group of our faculty that are interested in learning about some of the activities in the class I describe in this blog, and I am focusing on helping them discover new tools to make their lives more efficient and their study and research as professors more productive. I know that they will never use “social networking” in their classrooms, unless they learn to use it for themselves and it becomes vital to their personal lives. This realizes the context is not some “new technology” as much as the process that we can use the technologies for.

    I am aware of my influence with my students – not so much from my telling them how to go about social networking, but in allowing them to observe that this is the way I work and it is exciting to me. It is the activities that new technologies support that is important, not the idea of it which has too many connotations to different people.

  7. Sarah Stewart Says:

    Wayne: love that last paragraph & certainly agree that role modeling is key. Actually showing how networking works & the value of it has to be am extremely effective way of teaching.

  8. Wayne Says:

    I found George’s statement that I was referring to and I’ll quote him since his words are always to the point:
    “don’t focus on the tools and the direct application of the tools. Focus on what the tools allow us to do better and then find a way to implement that functionality in an organization. Should all grade 3 students have a blog on blogspot? Or videos on youtube? No. But all students in grade 3 should be communicating with others (preferably from around the world), expressing themselves in creative ways, co-creating with peers, and interacting with media and technology. Don’t let the tools be used as a scapegoat for inertia.” http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/archives/003498.html.

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