When working to obtain my bachelor’s degree 8 years ago I was enrolled in a program that was a combination of online and face-to-face classes. The online portion of the program consisted mostly of discussion board posts. Other than uploading an occasional assignment, most of the experience was the same as any other “brick and mortar” classroom. Since beginning my pursuit of my master’s degree, which is entirely online, a lot has changed in the e-learning environment. The amount of online resources available then compared to what is available now seems to be enormous. However, as with any change, we must learn to adapt, and adapt I did.
With the program I am now enrolled in, I have created a network of resources that aid in my understanding of concepts and allow me to self-direct my learning. This network includes peers, my instructors and colleagues and just as important, Internet based resources such as online databases and blogs. This network is an exact example of the learning theory of Connectivism. According to Siemens, G. (2012) “connectivism is the application of network principles to define both knowledge and the process of learning”. He also posits “connectivism focuses on the inclusion of technology as part of our distribution of cognition and knowledge”. (Siemens, G. 2012).
When beginning my pursuit of my master’s degree, I was originally enrolled in an Information Systems program although I had absolutely no technology background. Needless to say I struggled. However, I did earn a grade of a B in the class and that included a missed assignment, a late assignment, and a missed discussion board post. I mention this because based on my final grade, I evidently gained a fair share of understanding despite my lack of experience. I credit my learning on my network of resources that I created, not realizing that that network was one of the main principles of Connectivism. With the success of passing that IS class (I would have been overjoyed with a C), I employed the same methods with my current program.
I like to look at my network as being divided into human resources and technological resources. My first human resource, regardless of the class, is always my instructor. The instructors at Walden have been phenomenal at providing a variety of resources that present critical concepts in ways that resonate with all types of learners and learning styles. In addition to providing resources and materials, their feedback on assignments and discussions helps to correct and enhance my understanding. The next resource that I see as vital are my peers. Discussion board posts allow me to reflect upon my own understanding and to consider concepts from different viewpoints. I also utilize my colleagues. Being a teacher, I work with people who design instruction to engage all types of learners and learning styles. I also work with psychologists and counselors who have knowledge of psychology and learning theories.
My technological resources include databases where I search for scholarly articles and journals. These databases are accessed through the Walden University Library and Google Scholar. These articles and journals provide reliable, trusted information based on a range of sources. With my latest class, Learning Theories Instruction, I have been introduced to blogs. I have come across many blogs that provide useful resources for both the Instructional Design student and professional. Others provide a different aspects and viewpoints on any given topic. Besides providing different perspectives, I get to read and even participate in discussions about the latest theories and innovations in the field.
Online learning environments have evolved over the years with the advancements in technology. With these advancements, come an abundance of information and information sources that allow learners, especially adult learners to self direct their own learning. This way of learning also allows the learner “to connect with information, rather than rote memorization of basic facts” (Siemens, 2006), which makes the knowledge more meaningful.
Siemens, G. (2012). Connectivist Learning Theory. P2P foundation. Retrieved from
Siemens, G. (2006). Connectivism – Learning Theory or Pastime for the Self-Amused? Retrieved from