Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Connectivist Learning Objects and Learning Styles

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Connectivist Learning Objects and Learning Styles

Article excerpt

Introduction

This article explains a new model that enables and promotes shared knowledge construction around Learning Objects in the context of connectivist settings. These formulas focus learning either into LOs design and development carried out by users or into LOs collaborative categorization through folksonomies applied to ease their shared use and reuse.

The first section describes the improvements brought in by the new framework in connectivist sets. Connectivism is a Learning Theory of the digital age developed by George Siemens (2005) and Stephan Downes (2007a, 2007b), as a result of their recognition of the limitations of the behaviourist and constructivist theory. Connectivism considers the principles of complex networks in order to redefine concepts like the knowledge and learning process; knowledge is distributed over network connections in an uncontrolled way, thus relation patterns can be extracted, and therefore, learning consists of recognizing relevant information patterns and constructing new connections (Siemens, 2006, 2008). In summary, the learning process is characterized by:

--knowledge distribution over networks;

--information pattern discovery;

--the profound influence of network diversity and the strength of its ties;

--the easy adaptation to users' learning styles through multiple connection patterns;

--knowledge transfer facilitated by connections;

--easy assimilation of changes in knowledge domains.

Del Moral and Cernea (2005) defined LOs as minimal learning content units, with self meaning, formed by interactive and multiple format information packages, identifiable through metadata, designed to reach a single learning objective, integrating learning content, assets, activities and evaluations. Their outstanding features were reusability, technical compatibility, adaptability, and durability. However, we are witnessing a LO migration to open content with great flexibility, with a more open design which fits into the new connectivist learning framework.

Currently, connectivist LO (CLO) challenges are built upon encouraging and developing connective learning opportunities through community members' interactions for the purpose of collaborative knowledge construction inside dynamic and flexible virtual scenarios. These new CLOs adopt a didactic methodology that includes activities, such as case studies, collaborative problem resolution, decision making, reflection, multiple analyses interpretation, debates, webquests, and collaborative work, which we explain in the second section. Their added value has been enhanced by the new Connectivist Web tools that allow learners to explore information, learning content, and resources in different ways and suggest multiple applications in different contexts.

We will outline some of the major features of CLOs focusing on their adaptability to users' cognitive diversity within the new learning scenarios. Thus, from a connective point of view, the acquired value by the CLOs allows students to exploit the synergies of all community members so as to contribute to mutual enrichment.

Adapting CLOs to the users' cognitive diversity becomes an ideal occasion for individualizing the educational framework and its learning content into a unique collaborative and global structure. CLOs enable knowledge ecosystems that allow connections between ideas and/or concepts and reflect users' experiences, as they access, manage, internalize, and share information according to their cognitive preferences. Users are enabled to create their own CLOs using different collaborative tools, and thus they become consumers, intermediaries, and producers of learning contents, adapted to their learning styles.

Optimization of the Teaching Learning Process in the Connectivist Web

The Connectivist Web emerges within a students' generation marked by downloading and shareware, a generation that learns, works, entertains and expresses itself through open collaborative tools like YouTube, Flickr, GoogleTalk, eMule, Fotolog, and Del. …

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