Connectivity. What’s your theory?

Kia Ora Koutou,

Welcome to the second presentation on mobile learning.

A week is short and you’re all busy people with hectic lives.  You need to be mobile and connected and frankly, I need you to be frank. I’m not sure it’s good for me to have a platform.

Learning Outcomes:

  • evaluate the use of m-learning in your educational/life long learner context.
  • evaluate connectivity as a learning theory in relation to mobile learning.

Traxler, Rajasingham and Park all identify how difficult it is to develop clarity around the impact of mobility on learning, but that it is part of the landscape of education.

Mobile: It’s a state of mind.

“Laouris and Eteokleous (2005) suggest taking a broader view that involves a shift of focus from device to human, thus defining mobile learning in the context of the learning environment and learning experiences. Within the m-learning field, such terms as mobile, spontaneous, intimate, situated, connected, informal, realistic situation and collaboration are used to characterize these learning environments.”

Learning spaces in mobile learning environments (Solvberg & Rismark, 2012)
Rajasingham encourages us to consider, as educators, what our expectations are of learners and how we will support learning to learn in m-learning environments. Authentic engagement in communities of practice in a digital age requires that learners both consume and create content, interacting with others to create agreed knowledge. In the current climate of rapid change, increased pressure to adapt intelligently and be creative, students and educators are challenging the traditional structures of the environments in which they teach and learn. In George Siemens ‘Connectivity, a theory for a digital age‘,  teaching learners how they learn would require exploring ways to create and interact in networks, driving formal education outside the walls of the classroom or the course and into the social media networks but with the possibility of rich interactions, real life experiences and greater diversity in approaches to problem solving. Information is stored in online spaces.

Mobility enables learners to access information and to interact continually through social media. Accessing the latest opinion and the history of a debate and sharing across critical communities where they have an identity as a learner, a commentator, a novice or expert. The individual is a node in the network. The more connections, the more influence. Building this into the traditional educational setting requires a willingness to be prepared to design and redesign courses as part of the learning process, stepping away from the tightly controlled set of learning activities and assessments of the traditional education paradigm.

Connectivity, as a learning theory, requires that all learners will have autonomy of access to online spaces, raising issues of equity. It also views online spaces as places where everyone has the same opportunities, a democratic space, while in reality , having a voice does not necessarily equate to having power, control in these spaces is still subject to governmental and industrial control (Lau,2010).

Hughes sees knowledge identity congruence as the key aspect of a successful learning community. Those who do not participate risk feeling isolated and marginalised, while too much emphasis on social congruence can exclude minorities or create unwelcoming environments. Connectivity is all about computer mediated spaces and how ubiquitous your access is. What does connectivity offer learners that are not at home in this environment?

George Siemens asserts that “the technology we use is altering our brains”, (Siemens, 2008). “e-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review” (Wright, 2010) identifies banning mobile technology as a backward step in education, especially for our Maori learners. Our preconceptions about who should have the power, control and access to information and devices needs to be explored. The ability to stay connected at all times through handheld devices and wireless networks is altering the way we interact with our world and what we define as normal behavior. Being able to access information efficiently and having the analytical skills to assess and verify information are replacing retention and recall as we store our information repositories online and need to ensure that the information we have is still relevant and useful. The diversity of opinion and process are creating new patterns of interaction and communication.

Please, read George Siemens Connectivism: A learning theory or a digital age

***Spoiler Alert! This item is online and has been interacted with.***

Alternative clean text. Provided by @gsiemens.

How is your interpretation of the text influenced by annotations and comments online?

To illustrate ideas of patterns and nodes, have a look at this animate of the RSA talk given by Manuel Lima and this blog post by Harold Jarche.

To better understand how the experience of developing connections and interacting in a networked environment could be of benefit to learners, lets take a jaunt into the welcoming world of Twitter.

From this point on – try to complete as and where you can. Go mobile.


  • Join Twitter
  • Look for people who comment on relevant educational matters. (You may already have a burgeoning personal learning network (PLN) and have some great people for us to follow. If you are new to Twitter this post in the edublogger by Sue Waters is a great starter. If stuck, follow me (yes, this is a ploy;). If you are stuck, a quick and easy way to find people who might be interesting is to check out the people others are following or look for blog posts with links to educational tweeters. Click on the ‘Following’ list at the left side of the twitter page to see who is following who.
  • Identify three Tweeters that you find interesting, informative, relevant to the e-learning conversation.
  • Add their twitter name in the comments section on the Ed-Tweeters page of this blog for everyone to access. Reasons for your selection appreciated.


  • Consider how your feel about taking a ‘oppositional’ or ‘devils advocate’ position in discussion. Watch Margaret Heffernan’s TED talk, Dare to disagree. (12:56min)

  • Summarise your reaction to George Siemens ‘Connectivity. A learning theory for the digital age’ in 140 characters. Tweet to #etrends and @teatara.


  • Respond, via twitter, to one of the other group members about the content of their link, or modify (MT) and tweet.

Brandy and cigar

Please, if you have time, add your feedback regarding this presentation in the comments section at the foot of this blog post. Thanks everyone. Hope you have fun with it.


Fields, D. A., & Kafai, Y. B. (2008). A connective ethnography of peer knowledge sharing and diffusion in a tween virtual world. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1), 47–68. doi:10.1007/s11412-008-9057-1

Lau, D. (2010). Digital Technology, Social Media and Society. Retrieved from

Park, Y. (2011). A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(2), 78–102.

Rajasingham, L. (2011). Will Mobile Learning Bring a Paradigm Shift in Higher Education? Education Research International, 2011, 1–10. doi:10.1155/2011/528495

Siemens, G. (2008). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. URL:(http://www. itdl. org/Journal/Jan_05/article01. htm),[Accessed August, 2011]. Retrieved from

Solvberg, A. M., & Rismark, M. (2012). Learning spaces in mobile learning environments. Active Learning in Higher Education, 13(1), 23–33. doi:10.1177/1469787411429189

Traxler, J. (2011). Mobile learning: Starting in the right place, going in the right direction? International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 3(2), 57–67. doi:10.4018/IJMBL.2011040111040105

Wright, N., Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, & University of Waikato. (2010). e-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

Yang, Y.-F., Yeh, H.-C., & Wong, W.-K. (2010). The influence of social interaction on meaning construction in a virtual community. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2), 287–306. doi:Article


About Ra Ellingham

Education nut with ed-tech questions, learning to rethink learning all over again.
This entry was posted in Personal Learning Networks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Connectivity. What’s your theory?

  1. Very interesting article today about Using Vygotsky to Understand Connectivism. Sorry tweeted the article but couldn’t send it to others as I wanted. Still very new to Twitter. Here is the link


    • Ra Ellingham says:

      Great link, thanks Maggie. Have wondered about that shift through stages of print media and into digital since Siemens “rewiring the brain” comment caught my attention. The point Cochrane makes about the emphasis being on the selection of information or skills we choose next resonates strongly with me. My learners have all been about, “What comes next?” Maybe it’s the age (intermediate) but I can see them identifying with this way of thinking about how they learn.

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