Monday, March 15, 2010

The Learner of Today

A learner is like a social being that connects with others in order to gain knoweldge and insight.

Through his article "Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age" as well as through his online short videos, George Siemens describes the learner today in accordance with technology and networking. The analogy above encompasses the point that he tries to make throughout his article and videos with regards to how someone in this day and age learns. Learning, as he states in his article, "can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing." This, in a nutshell, means that while we learn on our own, branching out and networking by sharing ideas with others also helps us learn in many different ways.
In his video entitled, "The Changing Nature of Knowledge," Siemens describes how we gain knowledge through the use of technology. He illustrates this through saying that we learn both internally as well as externally. When we "make connections with others" our learning is external. The whole social element of learning and thus gaining knoweldge through staying current and connected is further emphasized in his remaining videos: "The Conflict of Learning Theories with Human Nature," "The Impact of Social Media on Learning," and "The Network is the Learning."
Social elements are important for learning, and Siemens firmly believes that we have a need to communicate with others to share our thoughts and to connect. Networking helps us to achieve this as well as helps us to learn from others through what Siemens calls the "distributive method." Not only does our need to communicate and learn from others result from networking, but when we share our thoughts, we may gain more of an understanding of our own ideas or even look at an idea in another light. Networking, Siemens feels, is the learning. As a learner, though, it is up to us to take the information we gain, add to it, revise it, and keep it current. Siemens states in his video "The Network is the Learning": "What we know today is not as important as our ability to stay current." This is an important concept as it is up to us as induviduals to gain knowledge as well as use the tools technology provides to us to apply the old to the new, and stay on top of new, important information.
Overall, when i say that a learner is like a social being that connects with others in order to gain knowledge and insight, I quite literally mean that learning is a social process. While many parts of learning do occur on a cognitive level, it is through others that we truly learn. By listening to what others think and in turn sharing our own opinions, we learn. Technology, through the networking process, helps us to keep our learning current in a very social way!

To read George Siemens' article "Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age," follow this link -

His videos can also be found below:
The Changing Nature of Knowledge
The Conflict of Learning Theories with Human Nature
The Impact of Social Media on Learning
The Network is the Learning


  1. Charlotte,

    When I first ready Siemens piece and started listening to his videos I thought to myself, DUH. Of course we as humans want to connect with others and share our ideas and insights. But I feel the way he describes this want and desire to share our insights in the changing technological world is very helpful. There is such a vast array of ways we communicate today without even knowing sometimes that we are doing it. I completely agree now-a-days that it is almost just as important to be able to communicate with someone even if your knowledge about what is being communicated is limited.

    Overall I enjoyed your thoughts on the topic!

  2. I think learning is now a social process because of the technology we have. This i believe is a new thing and we need to adapt to the changes we are seeing.

  3. "What we know today is not as important as our ability to stay current..." I love this quote! When I was student teaching, we did morning meeting every morning. It is amazing the basic skills of communication that those third graders needed to learn. And, it was amazing to see their progress when taught proper communication. Eye contact, firm hand shake, confident voice. I am a huge fan of the morning meeting. I love your focus on communications in your analogy!