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A (not-so) Satirical View of C = BR

September 30, 2008

Yes, I know that so far this blog has avoided satire, but I think it is time that we unleashed this hound, as it were…..

Connectivism as a proposed learning theory offers an illuminating look at the complexities in human and network learning theory. The proposition that “Connections are the Key” to the ongoing advancement of learning is a revolutionary viewpoint. To this date in history, learning theorists seem to have missed this point, too busy to see the forest for the trees. Too busy examining minutiae, to see the big picture. Let us review some of the key concepts and propositions of Connectivism:

  1. Connections are the key
  2. Context is the key
  3. Knowledge is the same as learning
  4. Network theory can be used to describe learning
  5. Action underlies all learning (actionable knowledge)
  6. We learn through pattern-matching, symbolic representation

(If I missed anything, let me know)

Lets have a look at #3.  Knowledge is the same as learning. This is somewhat revolutionary, in the world of learning theory. Knowledge has been kept separate from learning, being more of a ‘thing that you get’ (knowledge) than a ‘thing that you do’ (learn). Why equate them?

If you don’t equate knowledge to learning, the entire Connectivism house falls down. Knowledge must be considered to be non-static, rapidly changing, in order for it to be viewed as learning, within this context. It has to be maintained that static knowledge is useless, redundant, old etc. in order that the supremacy of the pipe be maintained. Otherwise, the pipe is less important that the content, so why worry about connections?

So ‘context is the key’ likely refers to the SHLAKE theory (Parslow) that Pipes are most important because knowledge has a short half-life; it is fading away or changing as we speak, and we must continually be ‘connected’ in order not to be, what, dumb?

Let’s rephrase the underlying principles of connectivism:

  1. knowledge has a short half-life, and big Pipes are needed

And the next pin to be knocked down is the language one. If we maintain that humans connect via symbolic representation, then both speed and accuracy of the knowledge slows down, again reducing the reliance on big Pipes. Better to assert pattern matching, and that way the connection retains its need for speed.

But connectivism is a tougher bogeyman that this. Removing itself from language construction and discussion, and maintaining knowledge to be relative and of relatively short duration, then how is one to describe/assess/examine/discuss learning, outside the symbolic representation of language and in a relativist environment?

Why, through a behaviorist ideology and methodology. The method to examining your inner perceptions is to examine your behaviour in networks, and the behaviour of networks themselves.   

Connectivism = Behaviorism Redux.


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  1. roy permalink

    Ken, further to my comment on semiotics – elsewhere: there are different ways to approach the problem of representation, speed and accuracy than the big pipes solution. Cetina ( has some really good research and insights on ‘micro-global pipes’ (to mix metaphors), which is what I think connectivism is all about.

  2. deadvocate permalink

    Hello Roy: I am still working my way through the paper, and it is a great read so far. Thanks for the link.

  3. mmvcentro permalink

    Hi Ken!
    Well, I will have to look for that idea that connectivism views that knowledge has a short half-life, it does not make sense. Ohh… I am not supposed to make sense becuse that is a property of language. Anyhow, could you provide a link to dig this a bit?
    Roy, thanks for the link.
    Thanks in advance. Love: Maru

  4. deadvocate permalink

    Hi Maru

    I can’t find the link where the half-life of knowledge is discussed. I think it was in something either George or Pat was discussing, or in a paper of George’s. I’ll keep looking and when I find it I’ll forward it.


  5. deadvocate permalink

    Hi Maru. I found one link:

    The half-life of knowledge is referred to in the quote in the 3rd paragraph.

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