Introduction to Connectivism
Siemens (2005) defines connectivism as “ the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self –organization theories”. He further claims that it is the learning theory of the digital age. To put it simply, it is a learning theory that explains how Internet technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share information across the World Wide Web and among themselves. In connectivist learning, facilitators guide learners to information and answer necessary questions in order to support and help learners start learning and sharing on their own. Learners are also encouraged to seek out information on their own and share what they find with others. Guidance and support from facilitators are also provided throughout the learning process. This results in a connected community around this shared information.
Connectivism in Contexts
The first MOOC course was based on connectivism theory proposed by Stephen Downes and George Siemens and the first MOOC, “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” was ran in 2008. Since then, a number of MOOCs have adopted this learning theory as their principle pedagogy. Language MOOCs, however, have a rather different nature from most content-based MOOCs; therefore, a connectivist language MOOC deserves its own explanation. In a connectivist LMOOC, learners are introduced to the information (target language) and guided through resources by the facilitators. Then they are encouraged and supported to learn in their own ways according to their needs and goals. A community is also built to facilitate knowledge exchanges and language practice through interactions with others. Therefore, personalization and social interaction are two key ingredients of a connectivist LMOOC.