Learning theory behind the Personal Learning Environment

Source: pixabay.com

Personal Learning Environment (PLE) has already blurred the distinction between formal and informal learning. With the advancement of technology, we have become a node of an interconnected network. Learning is embedded not only in our professional life but also in our personal life since technology is changing rapidly. What is the learning theory which reflects the characteristics of learning in the digital age? I doubted whether the traditional learning theories, Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism could explain the learning behaviour in a PLE.

Connectivism, a concept which I recently learnt by reading an article by George Siemens (Siemens, 2015) is found to be the most suitable learning theory to explain a PLE. Connectivism is an alternative approach for traditional learning theories Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. I suppose this theory has been evolved based on the associationism (Wikipedia, n.d.) in a networked environment.

“Connectivism is a theory of learning in a digital age that emphasises the role of social and cultural context in how and where learning occurs. Learning does not simply happen within an individual, but within and across the networks” (Wikipedia, n.d.).

The Connectivism has first introduced in 2005 by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. They have changed the definition of learning as “Learning is the process of creating connections and developing the network” (Downes, 2009).

How can we apply this concept in e-learning? Siemens, Downes and Cormier have developed a MOOC course to model and explain the connectivism, but unfortunately, it is not available now. As per other researches argument, the role of the teacher in a connectivistic environment is not adequately defined since it’s mostly focused on the learners (Bates, 2015).

However, as per Dowen’s interpretation (Downes, 2009), the role of the teacher in a connectivistic environment is similar to the constructivistic environment. It is just a facilitative and observable role in a more open manner.

There are some criticisms of the connectivism (Machness, 2011) approach in teaching and learning. The main criticism is its novelty.  The critiques stated that the connectivism had been obtained some features from other known theories such as “connectivism is connectionism, in computer science, associationism in philosophy and psychology, graph theory in mathematics and social network theory”. I also think it is related to some features describe in the Social constructivism, Engstrom activity theory and Authentic Learning concept.

Some teaching and learning models were proposed to implement connectivism theory through a personal learning environment (Gillet, 2014).


Bates, A. T., 2015. Teaching in a Digital Age. Vancouver: Tony Bates Associated Ltd.

Downes, S., 2009. Connectivist Learning and the Personal Learning Environment, s.l.: LinkedIn Learning.

Gillet, D., 2014. Personal Learning Environments as Enablers for Connectivist MOOCs, s.l.: HAL.

Machness, J., 2011. Attacks on connectivism. [Online]
Available at: https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/attacks-on-connectivism/
[Accessed 23 Feb 2019].

Siemens, G., 2015. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Technology and Digital Learning, 2(1).

Wikipedia, n.d. Associationism. [Online]
Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associationism
[Accessed 23 Feb 2019].

Wikipedia, n.d. Connectivism. [Online]
Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism
[Accessed 23 02 2019].

Technology Based Teaching : Article 4

Digital tools for teaching-related activities 

I can remember our teachers have used different techniques for preparing teaching materials and various methods for presenting the content more pictorial and interactive manner. With the digital technology, there are abundance tools available online and offline for following activities which are directly related to preparation for online, classroom-based and printed teaching materials.

1) Image capturing and editing
The software designed for image capturing or editing or performing both functions help you to obtain and create required graphics for your teaching materials. You can transform the primal pictures to advance informative graphic to compatible with your requirements.

2) Chart and graph creation
Attractive charts and graphs can be developed through online site free of charges.

3) Picture collection libraries
Ample of websites have the collections of pictures which we can use for our educational materials. No copyright violation is applicable for academic purpose usage.

4) Information sharing and storing
Online free storages are allowing us to save and share your files.

5) Animations and Simulations
Free software and web sites are available to Create free animations and simulation of the processes.

6) Presentations
The websites and software with the facilities to create attractive presentation and import to a reliable format which you use for your lectures or in the e-courses.

7) Screen capturing and recording
Free Software are available to capture the computer screen for material preparations and screen recording for creating demonstrative videos.

8) Voice Recording
These types of software can be used to add narration to your presentations and e-learning materials.

9) E-books creation
Some software allows creating e-books with the real features of a printed book.

10) Translation
Websites allow free translation of the document from one language to another.

11) Reading with annotations
Annotation is allowed in the documents you are reading online and offline.

12) Online whiteboard
Free online whiteboards are available to use for your lectures. These whiteboards are available in web conferencing software also

13) Surveying and quizzing
Surveys and assessment can be created to allow others to access online.

14) Dictionary and writing support
The software which support for writing by checking grammar and spelling issues. These types of software are essential when creating learning materials and blog posts.

15) Blogging site
Allows creating blogs for teacher and students to share one’s knowledge and views.

16) Creating E-portfolio
Various software are available to develop e-portfolios which allows assessing the students’ performance in learning.

17) Online communication
Software or apps design for synchronous and asynchronous communication can support collaborative learning.

Some of the above tools are available in present Learning Management Systems (LMS) and can be easily used to establish in an online classroom. But I am going to discuss some of the individual tools which we can apply for the accomplishment of the above tasks in the next few posts. The LMS will be explained in details later.

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