Learning paradigms for the Digital Age

A brief overview of modern learning theories.

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Learning paradigms for the Digital Age by Mind Map: Learning paradigms for the Digital Age


1.1. ...is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that gained credence in the 1950s. The movement was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition. (Wikipedia)

1.2. ...relates to the rise of the "searchable web 1.0"

1.2.1. Educators can post (publish) and search for content online

1.2.2. Students can easily access and internalise this content.

1.3. Definitions (What is cognitivism?)

1.3.1. Cognitivist theory ...often takes a computer information processing model. (Siemens, 2004) In other words, cognitivism seeks to theorise how information is processed from short term memories into long term memory through cognitive process. This has major implication for learning and pedagogy. Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1969, 1989) states ...people can learn new information and behaviors by watching other people. (Lawrence, 2015) ...direct reinforcement (behaviourism) could not account for all types of learning. (Lawrence, 2015) The social learning theory orchestrated by Albert Bandura has become perhaps the most influential theory of learning and development.

1.3.2. Cognitivist knowledge ...is internal, objective and is gained through experiences or study. ...is finite content which can be transferred from instructor to student (Foroughi, 2015) ...is viewed as symbolic mental constructs in the learner's mind (Buell, 2004)

1.3.3. Cognitivist learning ...is INTERNAL - it happens "inside the students head" ...is viewed as a process of inputs, managed in short term memory, and coded for long-term recall. (Siemens, 2004) …simple memorization of information (Gaytan, 2013) ...is viewed as the input of information into short term memory, where it is coded for future recall (Miller, 1956; Mayer, 2001; Miller, 2003). In summary, knowledge is propositional and can be intentionally transferred from instructor to learner AS the student processes information and consequently "moves" it from short term memory to long term memory. We learn through observation / social modelling

1.4. Details (How did it develop?)

1.4.1. Components (basic tenets) ...there are certain things they just need to know.” (Tracey 2009) Cognitivism is extremely useful as a learning theory in that it describes how certain important and fundamental sets of knowledge need to be deeply processed and internalised for immediate recall. For instance: it consoles a patient to know that their surgeon not only understands medicine but has learned from years of experience "how" to perform an appendicectomy.

1.4.2. Comparisons (to other theories) Web 1.0 = the "search web" or the read only web (Dunaway, 2011) Formal learning institutional learning Knowledge is knowable or acquired Knowledge is still internal Memorising meaning? Learners have a responsibility to memorise Learning takes place will committing knowledge to long term memory Knowledge is retained though repetition

1.4.3. Criticism (the problems) “The learning prophets are proclaiming instructivism is dead” (Tracey, 2009) Gone are the days of an authoritarian teacher transmitting pre-defined information to passive students. (Tracey, 2009) A criticism of cognitivism (in the digital age) is that it promotes the rigid transmission of a finite set of information from subject matter expert to student. This theory is not universally helpful in the digital age where information is no longer "finite" and where students have equality of access to information as their instructors.

1.5. Deployment (How compatible is it with school?)

1.5.1. Cognitivist pedagogies Teacher directed learning Teacher-directed learning relies on SME to quickly and efficiently communicate knowledge. Teacher centred learning involves more summative assessment ...traditional multiple-choice tests are popular (Overbaya, Patterson, Vasua, & Grablec, 2010) Emphasis on the "KNOW-HOW" of learning (Siemens, 2004) Individual work Teacher centred learning relies on SME to quickly and efficiently communicate knowledge. "INSTRUCTIVISM" adapted from SLT (Bandura) / Wheeler (2014) Students work largely on their own to listen, absorb and observe knowledge. Students learn "how" from observing mentors and from experience. Cognitivist pedagogy promotes direct instruction and is largely teacher centred. Watch out for: student passivity and disengagement

1.5.2. Cognitivist roles Teachers = instructors (subject matter experts) ...post coursework online for students to complete (Foroughi, 2015) ...define the content covered in the course and assessing students on this pre-defined knowledge piece (Foroughi, 2015) “...the resident subject matter expert constructs a basic framework of knowledge in the learner’s mind.” (Tracey, 2009) ...sequence knowledge and scaffold learning (Tracey, 2009) Teachers are subject matter experts who instruct their learners. Social modelling Students = recipients ...are seen as 'passive' recipients of knowledge. (Foroughi, 2015) ...are "disciples" of subject matter experts. ...need to be able to: Students are recipients of knowledge who learn by processing information from short to long term memory.

1.5.3. Cognitivist tools Digital tools Linear online courses (asynchonous) Podcasts Search engines (research) A good LMS should serve content Deliver COURSE CONTENT

1.5.4. Cognitivist design Desks in neat rows facing blackboard Desks are separated to avoid talking No other furniture in the room Cognitivist classrooms are designed to focused the attention of students to their instructor and the blackboard.

1.5.5. Cognitivist compatability Cognitivism represents the "traditional classroom" where teachers instruct their students in lecture style. This has its place but is no longer considered the only way to teach.


2.1. ...strongly influenced by Vygotsky's (1978) work, and suggests that knowledge is first constructed in a social context and is then appropriated by individuals (Bruning et al., 1999). It is the process of sharing individual perspectives which results in learners constructing understanding together that wouldn't be possible alone (Greeno et al., 1996) (Wikipedia)

2.2. ...relates to the rise of the "social web 2.0"

2.2.1. Educators can pose questions and direct discussion online

2.2.2. Students can discuss and share content online

2.3. Definitions (What is constructivism?)

2.3.1. Constructivist theory ...empowers learners to expand and deepen their knowledge by working with others. Constructivism although similar to cognitivism in some ways, asserts that knowledge is co-constructed by individuals working together in a group or on a project. This is because there are different perspectives on knowledge which emerge when opinions are shared and discussions are had.

2.3.2. Constructivist knowledge …is something that is constructed within a social context in a collaborative way. (Gaytan, 2013) ...is negotiated through experience and thinking. (Siemens, 2004) .. is created by students as they attempt to understand their experiences (Driscoll, 2000, p. 376). According to constructivism, learners themselves actively and often proactively create knowledge themselves, based on interaction with the themselves actively and often proactively create knowledge themselves, based on interaction with the world and with other learners (Driscoll, 2000; Downes, 2005; Alexander, 2006; Anderson, 2007).

2.3.3. Constructivist learning ...is also INTERNAL - it resides in the minds of group members ... is the process as the act of internalizing knowledge constructed from a variety of sources …learning is best achieved when it occurs within a social context through an active and constructive process (Dewey, 1933; Koohang, Riley, Smith, & Schreurs, 2009; Piaget, 1972; Vygotsky, 1978). Learners co-construct knowledge are therefore active in the learning process. Learning (as in cognitivism, is still "internal' but there are more sources or voices to listen to and process. The learning occurs when students work in groups OR use technology to discuss concepts with others with different opinions. We learn by co-constructing knowledge together

2.4. Details (How did it develop?)

2.4.1. Components (basic tenets) Löfström and Nevgi (2006) 1. Learners construct knowledge as a collective activity. 2. Learners benefit from the cognitive process of working towards a goal. 3. Learners use previous knowledge to build on new knowledge. 4. Learners’ thinking and actions lead to empowerment, commitment, and responsibility. 5. Learners actively and purposely set cognitive objectives. 6. Learners collaborate by sharing knowledge with other members of a community, engaging in dialogue and receiving feedback. 7. Learners reflect on the process and understand the implications. 8. Learners connect learning to the context of the real world and transfer knowledge to new applications.

2.4.2. Comparisons (to other theories) Web 2.0 = the social web or the collaborative web (Dunaway, 2011) Formal learning institutional learning Knowledge is knowable or acquired Knowledge is still internal Making meaning? Learners have a responsibility to contribute Learning takes place while constructing knowledge Knowledge is constructed between participants

2.4.3. Criticism (the problems) I've written about this in "Constructivist challenges" below.

2.5. Deployment (How compatible is it with school?)

2.5.1. Constructivist pedagogies Student centered learning Student centred learning empowers learners to expand and deepen their knowledge by working together. Students interact in a social learning network Emphasis on the "KNOW-WHAT" of learning (Siemens, 2004) Student-centered learning involves more formative assessment graded classroom discussions and project-based assignments (Overbaya, Patterson, Vasua, & Grablec, 2010) Group work Several students working together can correct each other's misunderstandings and can make much more progress on tasks. (Hiler & Paul, 2006) "COLLABORATIVISM" adapted from Löfström and Nevgi (2006) When students engage in speaking activities, they need to listen, think quickly by tapping into their knowledge base, respond with cogent arguments, listen to the counterargument, and make further assertions. As such, when communication skills are introduced within a course's assignments (e.g., a formal presentation or a debate), they become part of the integrated learning process as students talk about the course content. Ultimately, this integration helps students develop their higher intellectual processes along with critical thinking skills. (Tuleja & Greenhalgh, 2008) ...are effective at empowering learners to expand and deepen their knowledge (Tracey, 2009) Watch our for: the rules of etiquette when using technology (Kooser, 2006)

2.5.2. Constructivist challenges I see two main challenges for constructivism: 1. If there is an information black hole (i.e. no-one knows the 'answer' then a situation which I refer to as "the blind leading the blind can occur. 2. Students need to value each other and be confident enough to collaborate and contribute. If they are not, it seriously limits the degree to which the group can co-construct knowledge.

2.5.3. Constructivist roles Teachers = coaches or facilitators ...transform themselves into facilitators... (Tracey, 2009) …responsible for setting clear learning outcomes (Lamb, 2006) Teachers are facilitators or coaches coaches in the constructivist classroom because their goal is to encourage research and to promote discussion and therefore the co-construction of knowledge. Self efficacy Students = participants …construct knowledge as a collective activity. Löfström and Nevgi (2006) ...morphed into participants (Tracey, 2009) ...transfer knowledge, make knowledge, or build knowledge. (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...are participants who co-construct knowledge by working together. (Foroughi, 2015) …construct knowledge as a collective activity. Löfström and Nevgi (2006) …are in control of the learning process to the rest of the students in the classroom (Lamb, 2006). ...need to be able to: Students are no longer passive, but they are participants in the learning process. It is essential for students to have confidence to share their knowledge so that others can learn from their perspectives.

2.5.4. Constructivist apps What is a SLN? Socially oriented software, such as wikis, blogs, collaborative documents, social networks, and learning management systems, enable learner collaboration and act as enablers of twenty-first-century teaching (Churches 2008). …tools to scaffold, engage, and facilitate knowledge construction and reflective thinking (Jonassen 2000). Apps for setting up a group goal LMSs can be used to frame the task or the learning purpose / goal(s). Apps for connecting to prior knowledge Brainstorming is a classic teaching technique used to connect to prior knowledge. Online collaborative mind Apps for collaborating on a task Face to face as well as written / posted discussions are a hallmark of constructivist learning. Technology assists discussion through apps such Google hangouts / Skype calls or online discussion forums hosted through LMSs purpose built wikis. Discussion leads to digital asset / project production. Students can now produce and publish their work using collaborative word processing apps such as Google docs, OneNote collaboration space and MS Word online. They can even make presentations using MS Sway, Padlet, Google slides or MS Powerpoint. Apps for reflecting and applying Blogging is an important way to reflect on learning and to isolate how learning is to be applied. Common free blogging platforms include Wordpress, Blogger and now Medium amongst many others. Finally, social media used to microblog and to share learning (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Yammer). Hashtagging is vital in this step so that threads can be followed by classmates. Digital tools for constructing an SLN ...tools to scaffold, engage, and facilitate knowledge construction and reflective thinking (Jonassen 2000). All these online tools are classed Web 2.0 because they promote discussion and interaction online. They help students learn because discussions can be organised and aspects of knowledge shared. A good LMS should serve as SLN COLLABORATE and CO-CONSTRUCT content

2.5.5. Constructivist design Desks in groups or clusters to promote conversation. Other furniture such as bean bags and comfortable seating are present to allow for interactions to take place.


3.1. ...is a learning theory for a digital age promoted by Downes and Siemens. Connectivism seeks to explain complex learning in a rapidly changing social digital world. (Wikipedia)

3.2. ...relates to the emergence of the "semantic web 3.0"

3.2.1. Educators and students can aggregate content and build "smart" personal learning networks online

3.3. Definitions (What is connectivism?)

3.3.1. Connectivist theory ...was developed as a result of a belief that there was a need for a learning theory, which took into account the manner in which society has changed as a result of the new technologies of the digital age. (Siemens, 2004) ...highlights the importance of learners making connections, which allow the flow of information to occur between the learner and their learning community. (Kop & Hill, 2008) “...there’s simply too much knowledge to take in – and it changes too quickly anyway.” (Tracey, 2009) ...people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences Kop and Hill wrote in 2008: "A paradigm shift, indeed, may be occurring in educational theory." This shift has become known as "Connectivism" and has developed into a theoretical framework for understanding learning in the digital age. (Tracey, 2009) writes: "...forget about trying to “know” everything. Instead, build your network of knowledge sources, and access them whenever you need them."

3.3.2. Connectivist knowledge ...is distributed across an information network and can be stored in a variety of digital formats. (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...is the recognition of a pattern in a set of neural events [if we are introspecting] or behavioural events [if we are observing]” (Downes, 2008) ...is not a “thing” that exists, but rather is a relationship that exists within complex networks (Downes, 2007). ...is a creation process...not only knowledge consumption.” (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...the set of connections formed by actions and experience. (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...is the act of recognizing patterns (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...is  NOT propositional and therefore is ‘not being acquired, as though it were a thing.’ (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...is composed of digital, electronic, online resources distributed over the net (Dunaway, 2011) ...resides in a distributed manner across a network. Siemens (2006, p. 5) Knowledge is NO LONGER internal because it's no longer finite in the digital age. This means that knowledge resides in the connections between information resources.

3.3.3. Connectivist learning ...learning is also considered to be EXTERNAL because learning is the connection of patterns between nodes. This means that "machines" can learn!!! ...community is described as a node (Kop and Hill, 2008) ...network is comprised of two or more nodes linked in order to share resources. (Downes, 2008). ...takes place when learners make connections between ideas located throughout their personal learning networks. (Dunaway, 2011) ...is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources  (Siemens, 2004) and then recognising / processing the patterns which emerge ...consists of connecting nodes (Siemens, 2005b). ...learning happens outside humans’ brains as well as inside them. (Clarà & Barberà, 2013) ...learning is the act of recognizing patterns shaped by complex net-works.’ Siemens (2006, p. 5) Educators in the information age have found that the cognitivist and constructivist approaches to learning (i.e. processing and recalling finite information and co-constructing knowledge) is not as helpful for students in the digital age who are confronted with an enormous amount of 'new knowledge' which they are confronted with. There is simply is too much to know and learn. Also, since knowledge is changing and renewing itself (every 18 months), knowledge has a half life meaning that much of what is processed and constructed will be out of date. Hence Siemens and Downes view that it is more helpful to suggested that knowledge exists in the connections students for between information nodes. We learn by recognizing emerging patterns

3.4. Details (How did it develop?)

3.4.1. Components (basic tenets) Downes' four key points about connectivism (Downes, 2006) Basically, Downes promotes connectivism as a theory where salient aspects of a set of connections emerge into a pattern in a students mind. The more the pattern is recognised, the deeper the memory embeds (this part is similar to cognitive theory). 1. Context - knowledge is localized across the nodes in a network 2. Salience - the degree to which aspects of knowledge reoccur in the network determines the degree to which they emerge (or become recognizable) 3. Emergence - once a pattern is recognizable in a network it develops into memory 4. Memory - is the persistence of patterns in a network My summary of connectivism: Connectedness - connectivism is about knowledge which resides in a network driven by the exponential proliferation of knowledge in the digital age. Connectedness means that we all have the ability to curate a "personal learning network" comprising of people, websites, blogs, rss feeds, social media and wikis etc. which, in turn,  allows us access to knowledge we would never have had. Currency - connectivism is all about staying in the know all the time (because we now can). Guder (2010) states that "Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities." Therefore learning is staying connected to the stream (the current). Critical thinking - as a result it is vital that each individual develop the ability to discern what is important and accurate. Connectivism demands that each learner develops the meta skill to sift his / her network to glean not just any information - but that which is most accurate and valuable. Contribution - and finally connectivism assumes that as a member connected and current in a network that we are contributing to that network. Connectivism places the responsibility of learning into the hands of the student collaborator who will add his or her learning into the discussion to enrich the mix.

3.4.2. Comparisons (to other theories) Web 3.0 = the semantic web Informal lifelong learning (Clara, 2013) i.e. MOOCs Knowledge is infinite and therefore not propositional Knowledge is out there / external Observing meanings? Learners have a responsibility to contribute Learning takes place while maintaining current connections and curating knowledge Knowledge is distributed across a network

3.4.3. Criticism (the problems) Connectivism has attracted academic criticism from academics who believe that the theory is not academically researched but is rather blogged about. There is an irony here! ...academically researched but is rather blogged about

3.5. Deployment (How compatible is it with school?)

3.5.1. Connectivist pedagogies Self directed learning Self directed learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources to be accessed when needed. Students curate a personal learning network Student centred learning involves assessment of digital assets Little assessment ...creation and sharing of digital assets via PLN Completion of a MOOC 'Net work'? = Personal learning networks "EXPLORATIVISM" adapted from (Kopp, 2011) ...are developed in the classroom so that students can 'surf' the connections and learn from patterns Best for

3.5.2. Connectivist challenges Challenges for the connectivist classroom (Garcia, 2013): Students who engaged with the task appeared to benefit, (Garcia, 2013) For some students an issue of confidence in their own opinions (Garcia, 2013) students did not appear to be able to fully engage with the level of peer critique and feedback (Garcia, 2013) posts and responses often came from the same students (Garcia, 2013) concerns about the lack of critical engagement online (Norris 2001) levels of confidence and learner autonomy, in addition to discipline, are of crucial importance to the level of engagement (Kop and Hill, 2008) Four challenges to connectivist learning (from Kop, 2011): 1. need for critical literacies 2. presence of power relationships 3. level of learner autonomy 4. level of social presence The main challenges facing connectivist learning is that it is so different from "traditional education". Consequently, there can be friction between students who are 'digital natives' and educators who still need to master digital apps and an influx of information. Having said this, at the classroom level, teachers need to help students to curate and share knowledge and their learning digitally. There are students who struggle with the confidence to do this. The other challenge is that connectivism requires the development of a personal learning network which moves the responsibility of learning from the teacher to the student. This becomes challenging when undisciplined and unmotivated students meet a connectivist pedagogy!

3.5.3. Connectivist roles Kop and Hill (2008) suggest that the connectivist approach involves shifts in roles of teachers; for educators, control is being replaced with influence. Teachers = mentors (influencers) ...are required initially... to initiate discussion (Garcia, 2013) ...provide the opportunities for learning and overall summative critique at the end of the task. (Garcia, 2013) ...help students how to create their own learning networks…(Guder, 2010) ...give (students) confidence to post (Garcia, 2013) ...control is being replaced with influence. (Dunaway, 2011) ...instead of controlling a classroom, now influences or shapes a network (Siemens, 2010). ...provide expertise and guidance to students, but NOT direct their work (Brown, 2006) ...suggest an idea and then guide students to search for diverse takes on the same idea, using multi-media and multiple sources (Foroughi, 2015) ...sources of expertise and creators of learning resources as well as guides helping students pursue connections (Siemens, 2008) Teachers are now connection experts who have "currency" (expertise) and assist students in creating their own personal learning network. Their job is to coach students how to use connectionist apps and online tools. Teachers are now influencers and no longer informers! The direction of learning is influenced by “network leaders” who shape emergent knowledge (Kop, 2011) Kop and Hill (2008) suggest that the connectivist approach involves shifts in roles of teachers; for educators, control is being replaced with influence. Instead of controlling a classroom, a teacher now influences or shapes a network (Siemens, 2010). like a concierge, directing learners to resources or Both sources of expertise and creators of learning resources as well as guides helping students pursue connections (Siemens, 2008) Social presence Students ="connectors" ...learn and create knowledge by connecting to information networks composed of myriad information resources. (Dunaway, 2011) ...need to develop two main literacies: ...need to be able to: All the emphasis is on motivated and willing students in the connectivist classroom. This is because learning occurs when students make connections. For this to happen they need nodes and a network which they need to curate. The students learned as much from each other as they did from the instructor  (Thota, 2009) Learners cannot learn 'everything' so focus on how to access knowledge and then create their own learning networks. students learn and create knowledge by connecting to information networks (Dunaway, 2011) to take responsibility for their own learning (Garcia, 2013) creation of their own networks (Garcia, 2013) …students become accountable to each other rather than the teacher. (Garcia, 2013)

3.5.4. Connectivist apps What is a PLN? A personal learning network is a set of connected sources of information and apps which assist students to access new information, process it, create new digital assets and to share and discuss it (Kopp, 2011). It can also be seen as a set of domains or areas of information management (Drexler, 2011). A PLN is a digital network used to aggregate, relate to, create and share learning (Kopp, 2011). E-learning 2.0 empowers students to think and act through conversation, interaction, sharing, creation, and participation (Downes 2006). Apps for aggregation RSS feed aggregators for curating blog content Pocket Flipboard Feedly Pocket Evernote Delicious Pinterest Flipboard Feedly RSS aggregators and subscription readers, Apps for relation Note taking apps Mind mapping apps Apps for creation O365 GAPPS Apps for sharing Micro blogging Social sharing Google groups Facebook groups Twitter Wikis Instagram Yammer Pinterest Digital tool to help students develop their own PLNs Web sites are sources of archived material Social bookmarks online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents. Social media platforms and hashtagging for communicating and sharing new information Note taking and journaling / blogging, Blogs for sharing and self expression A good LMS should serve as the hub of a PLN CURATE content and CONNECT to others This is my favorite bit because theory is translated into practice. Not all online tools and digital education tools are "connectivist". For instance, a podcast is not. Nor is an online course. But an RSS feed aggregator like Feedly would be because this tools curates content from various blogs into one place.

3.5.5. Connectivist design Open floor plans, study rooms, more computers, and social environments such as cafeterias or coffee shops all attempt to accommodate the various learning environments preferred by people from diverse cultural backgrounds. (Guder, 2010) like an atelier, an open space in which students pursue their work (Brown, 2006) I would imagine the connectivist classroom to be very similar to the constructivist classroom - but more diverse and therefore more comfortable for the individual. I would predict this to be the case because learning revolves around the student NOT the group or teacher necessarily.