Saturday, October 20, 2012

Connectivism: My Learning Connections

Dorothea's Mind Map

How has your network changed the way you learn?
My learning has magnified.  Whereas in my previous learning experiences information was located in a library or bookstore and bound between the pages of a book, I now access a wide array of knowledge through the World Wide Web.  I locate information and the opinions of others as far away as the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.  No longer bound by time and space, my class can be anywhere, at any time.  My peers and instructors spread across the globe.  Even though we have not physically met, I sense their presence and interest through our communications and various interactions.  I no longer hold a pen and pencil; rather, all my assignments and most of my course readings are done through my laptop.  In fact my laptop is the interface between me and the world. 

Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?
Heading my list would be Google search engine.  It keeps me in touch with the university, my instructors and peers, and the resources offered by Walden.  Most of my research is done using Google as well.  To avoid long delays in the receipt of textbooks, e-books are a viable option, so, second on my list of priorities are e-readers, especially Foxit Reader.  Most of the papers are Pdf files and Foxit Reader facilitates my “reading a book” sensibilities.  To assist my memory, I take notes, highlight, underline, and italicize and so on just as I would a book.  I also use Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions, and Vital Source Bookshelf .  The online dictionaries are indispensable.  As I read, the meanings of unfamiliar words are checked and noted in the e-reader for clarification and future reference.  The Internet is critical to my studies.  Whenever I need clarification of a concept I seek simplification using general searches on the web.    These digital tools are definitely part of my entire learning process.

How do you learn new knowledge when you have questions?
My general approach is to find out as much as I can about the topic before attempting to answer any question.  Siemens (2006) suggests several pre-learning activities that include exploration, inquiry, decision making, selecting, and deselecting.  Learning occurs when the individual actively acquires the knowledge that is needed to complete tasks or to solve a problem.  My exploration begins with the digital tools at my disposal.  Of course information found in Walden’s library and online is exhaustive, so I refine the searches to more accurately represent what is required.  Even though some of the information received might be repetitive that helps me to remember.  It is impossible for any student to remember everything so I store material for future use in Google docs, on flash drives on my laptop and external hard drives.  Strong and Hutchins (2009) note that given the speed of change in information and the enormous volume of information available no one person can know all there is to know about any particular subject, so we tap into information stored not only in our minds but also in the minds of others; as we learn from our own experience and that of others (p. 59).  This gives credence to Siemens’ proposition in "Connectivism: Learning and Knowledge Today” where he posits that learning is the process of creating networks both internally in our minds and externally, linking nodes which may be people, organizations, libraries, web sites, books, journals, databases, or any other source of information.  

Siemens, G.  (2006).  Connectivism: Learning and Knowledge Today.  Paper delivered at the Global Summit 2006: Technology Connected Futures.  Retrieved from
Kay Strong and Holly Hutchins.  (2009).  Connectivism: a theory for learning in a world of growing complexity.  Impact: Journal of Applied Research in Workplace E-Learning.  1(1), 53-67. doi: 10.5043/impact.18


Michael said...

Great illustration Dorothy :)

It's very simple to understand. The present world get most of the information online because it is easily accessible.

Segla Kossivi said...


Similarly, my traditional habit of rote learning, which I found difficult, gave way to an effective schema method I developed. I used to find connections between all the subjects I was studying. Schema method helped me remember learned information by association. Schooled in the traditional education system up to the undergraduate level, I learned through archaic authoritative lecture and sources (books and physical libraries). The change came during my MS-IDT at Walden University, where I started enjoying Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools to create, use, share, engage, and manage contents, relations, and applications. Indeed, the use of connective network knowledge (Siemens, 2006) empowers and equips me with skills to acquire new knowledge.
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved from

Jeff Sparling said...

Great map! What platform did you use for that?

Have you tried the social bookmark systems? I have a Diigio account and have not connected to anyone with it yet, but that too seems a good way to look for info. If someone in a class looks, all can share so others can look elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dorothea,

Great map and post. Like you, my learning has magnified tremendously. I received my BA in the 90's and I remember having to walk or ride public transportation to the library every week. Now with just a click or two, you can access information and collaborate with others within minutes.

Dorothea Nelson said...

Thank you Michael. I agree with you about the ease with which we can now access information using online modalities. As a result we learn that much more.


Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Segla,

Sometimes I feel as though technologies and theories demand that we leap into the unknown. That can be overwhelming and create feelings of anxiety. Siemens' theory for example, asks us to extend our view of learning to include the learning of others in our individual learning framework. Why should I think your learning is mine if I have not learned and understood it for myself? For me coming to grips with Siemens is like seeing a computer for the first time and being apprehensive about using it. What do you think?


Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks, I used Freemind to create my mind map. I think Segla's mind map shows shows best the utility of Freemind. I have never used Diigo, but I have checked it out and will begin using it. Thanks again.


Dorothea Nelson said...

Amazing, isn't it?


Shannon Burns-Casimier said...

Awesome Job on your Mindmap. You are definitely connected with colleagues and available resources. I have not tried Google Scholar, but I will research and try it. I have realized that there are so many resources, technology devices, and software products available online. We just have to become familiar with them and access them to benefit our needs. Again, I really enjoyed viewing your Mindmap. Keep up the great work. Shannon~

Dorothea Nelson said...

Hi Shannon,

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. It is truly amazing the range of information available online. I think that is what Siemens tries to grapple with in his connective theory.