Connectivism re-examined

Year: 2012

Author: Dobozy, Eva, Campbell, Chris, Cameron, Leanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of 'connectivism' to contribute new knowledge to the current debate about the validity of 'connectivism' as a new and emerging learning theory. George Siemens, who coined the term 'connectivism' in 2004, contends that it is a learning theory for the age of today or the digital age and driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations [and] the ability to recognize when new knowledge alters the landscape (Siemens, 2005/2006). Bell (2010) notes that: “prior to this, the term 'connectivism' had been used when applying ideas from biological models of the brain to neural networks in machine learning, treating the neural network as part of a whole” (p 528). This deconstruction and systematic analysis of the concept 'connectivism' is based on a newly developed coding system that is also applied to other, established learning theories, providing a comparative evaluation of commonly agreed properties of well-known learning theories. The results of our analysis are discussed and possible implications for practice and further research are outlined.

This paper is a response to an identified need providing a theoretical outline of Connectivism's 'conceptual fit'. It is hoped that the critique provided here will assist in the development of a theoretical foundation for the gathering of empirical evidence in the future. Given the increased interest in teaching and learning in Australian higher education, it may be timely to review the latest developments and debates concerning the concept of 'learning theory'.


Bell, F. (2010). Network theories for technology-enabled learning and social change:

Connectivism and actor network theory. Paper presented at the Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, Aalborg, Denmark. Retrieved from

Siemens, G. 2005. Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal

of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2 (1). Retrieved from:

Siemens, G. (2006). Connectivism: Learning theory or pastime for the self-amused?

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