In my Cognitive Development class, we’ve been constantly focusing on the traditional learning theories such as nativism, behaviorism and constructivism. Scholars used to believe that knowledge is innate, which has nothing to do with environmental influence. Then they realized that the outside environment couldn’t be neglected. The impact of environment on the learning process is gradually being emphasized.

But as George Siemens has mentioned, former theories all limit the learning process within an individual, and overlook learning occurred in organizations and technology-influenced learning. As information continues to grow in an unimaginable speed, it’s apparent that people now rely on the help of technologies more than ever. Many cognitive steps we used to go through can now be aided by technology. We don’t have to store or retrieve knowledge solely in or from our brain. Now we have computers, smartphones with powerful databases and applications that are easily accessed whenever we are in need. In the digital era, learning is no longer just an individual process, but a system which requires connections¬†between individuals and organizations through various networks.

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Examples of such learning process can be easily found nowadays. Language learning apps such as Duolingo, have been changing their way of teaching from the former one-way outputting of course content, to the current two-way interactive teaching. Learners can now connect their own knowledge to the community through online forum (network) and also learn more about related materials. The connections learners built and formed allow themselves to remain current on the target information and thus amplify their learning efficiency.

Connectivism as a learning theory, has indeed shed light on how to design more effective instructions in the current digital age.

Questions: Can you guys find more examples of the application of connectivism in the field of instructional design? What do you think we should consider when designing our own instructional products?