Connectivism and Digital Literacy

Connect, Choose, Curate


The nature of knowledge is changing rapidly, from being almost immutable and timeless, to having a shrinking ‘half-life’ (the time from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete). With the abundance of knowledge, we can “no longer personally experience and acquire learning that we need to act. We derive our cmpetence from forming connections.” (Siemens, 2004). The way we make meaning has changed, from engaging in meaningful tasks, we now make meaning through recognising patterns. Learning, defined as actionable knowledge, is disembodied (it can exist outside our heads), places emphasis on the connecting of information and prioritises our ability to search and learn more over what we already know.

Connectedness (to the right people, right context, right information at the right time) – Currency – Capacity to know – Capacity to Choose – Creating and Cultivating Collective Cognitive Capacity.

Learning is no longer just an individual and internal activity.

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy, as defined by Ng (2012), encompasses the technical, cognitive and social-emotional elements of learning with digital technologies, both on and offline. It is the capacity to create meaning and communicate effectively using digital tools. Eshet-Alkalai (2004) identify five areas of digital literacy: photo-visual, or using images to think; reproduction, the ability to creatively duplicate and re-mix sources (text, audio, videio and images); branching, the use of hypertext to create a non-linear text, and the ability to navigate other non-linear texts; information, critical thinking and searching skills; socio-emotional, emotional and social aspects of online socialising, collaborating and everyday engagement, and the ability to avoid scams and traps.

Taxonomy of Connectivism


Meaning making

Pattern recognition

Contribution and involvement

Connection forming

Awareness and receptivity


What do we mean by ‘learning’ if knowledge or content recall is no longer the primary utility for the student? If they can just look up the information, and it’s easily accessible, how does that change what we learn and how we learn it?

Are we all just curators now? If “Learning, as a self-organizing process requires that the system (personal or organizational learning systems) “be informationally open, that is, for it to be able to classify its own interaction with an environment, it must be able to change its structure…” (Luis Mateus Rocha, 1998, 4 in Siemans, 2004).

Is the purpose of learning now to create useful information patterns? And if so, what is our role in that as educators?

Isn’t this then just an extension of constructivism, that we construct our meaning, our knowledge and our understanding, to constructing the structure of our learning and knowledge and networks?

Nodes, Networks and Weak Ties

Nodes are people, communities, ideas or concepts that become part of a network when they’re connected and structured in relation to each other, the weak ties are connections that are transitory – short connections that allow for information to flow. Siemen uses the example of getting a job via a weak tie, knowing someone who knows someone, or mentions the application date or points you in the right direction.

Siemens, 2004

Applications for our teaching

Watching educational videos - YouTube (History Teachers YouTube) or TED (TED-Ed).

Joining online forums and noticeboards, eg. (notes by students, not definitive answers)

Online games and quizzes

Collaborative teaching tools, eg. Padlet, Smore (this flyer),, Glogster, Google Maps, PeerWise, Twitter.

Curate, develop and use your communities (State Library of Victoria Personal Learning Network PD, PD in the Pub, Twitter, Local Council, Local associations (like History Teachers Association of Victoria), Unions)

Sporting communities (AFL, soccer, tennis, etc).

Bring in an expert - local or via digital media (Google Hangouts, Skype). Koorie Heritage Trust.