Course Outline


-1. Getting Ready

Connectivism is based on the idea that knowledge is essentially the set of connections in a network, and that learning therefore is the process of creating and shaping those networks. To get started we'll look at what to do to set up and how to learn in a connectivist course.

0. E-Learning 1 and 2

The premise of this course is that we are entering the third major phase of the world wide web, and that it will redefine online learning as it has previously. The first phase of the internet as it was originally developed in 1994, based on the client-server model, and focused on pages and files. The second phase, popularly called Web 2.0, created a web based on data and interoperability between platforms.

1. Data

This week the course addresses two conceptual challenges: first, the shift in our understanding of content from documents to data; and second, the shift in our understanding of data from centralized to decentralized.

2. Cloud

The joke is that “the cloud” is just shorthand for “someone else’s computer.” The conceptual challenge is that it doesn’t matter whose computer it is, that it could change any time, and that we should begin to think of “computing” and “storage” as commodities, more like “water” or “electricity”, rather than as features of a type of device that sits on your desktop.

3. Graph

The graph is the conceptual basis for web3 networks. This concept will be familiar to those who have studied connectivism, as the idea of connectivism is that knowledge consists of the relations between nodes in a network - in other words, that knowledge is a graph (and not, say, a sequence of facts and instructions).

4. Identity

Identity is one of the deepest problems of philosophy and one that runs trough the history of education like a single thread. In this course we look at identity relatively narrowly, asking how we know who someone is, how we project ourselves on the internet, and how we can be safe and secure.

5. Resources

From its earliest days the internet has pitted a philosophy of sharing against more consumer-driven models of content consumption. Usenet, mailing lists, websites and file transfer services facilitated the easy exchange of ideas and information.

6. Recognition

The question is often asked, how do we know a course has been successful? How do we know what someone has learned? These are underscored by the deeper question of whether we can trust in the education of our mechanics, doctors, engineers and pilots.

7. Community

The traditional concept of community was built on sameness, on collections of people from the same family, speaking the same language, living in the same place, believing the same things. The fundamental challenge to community is to make decisions on matters affecting everybody while leaving to individuals, companies and institutions those matters not effectively managed by consensus.

8. Experience

It is a truism that we learn from experience, and yet creating a role for experience in learning has been one of the most difficult problems in education. And so much of education continues to rely on indirect methods depending on knowledge transfer - reading, lectures, videos - rather than hands-on practice and knowledge creation.

9. Agency

Each of the major developments in the internet - from the client-server model to platform-based interoperability to web3-based consensus networks - has been accompanied by a shift in agency. The relative standing of the individual with respect to community, institutions, and governments was shifted, for better or worse.