Louise’s Blog

Networked Learning

Connectivism does not imply a total absence of educator, only that “this presence is as a participant and not an authority figure” (Downes, 2013). The connectivist’s theory seems to assume that all students have a strong ability to self-motivate and problem-solve, can set their own learning standards and goals, have online experience, and an already strong digital footprint.

Brennan (2013) offers good advice: don’t treat the novices like experts; you “depress and lose them.” Downes (2013) might argue that it is “appalling.” The truth is that not all students are equipped for this. Admittedly, he speaks more to the post-secondary period, assuming that elementary, middle and high school teachers have prepared a student sufficiently to self-manage in an online environment.

In this environment, the face-to-face, personable approach by an educator/facilitator is low key, and since he is just a participant with now real authority (Downes, 2013), he can provide only motivation on the level of other participants. Students might be left to find their own way in a sea of anxiety and uncertainty. The physical presence of the educator provides security to most students. A caring educator will encourage and help the student to tap into his inner strength to achieve his best. She is responsible for assisting students to determine where they are at in their learning. Some will require a slower pace, more repetition, frequent encouragement, while others will charge ahead, comfortable in their own abilities, and ready to be challenged to the next task. Being with my students, provides me with the time and opportunities to achieve this. I have found that moving into a fully online environment is, strangely, not something they welcome. Few of my students find this prospect exciting. However, travelling into digital space from the comfort of a classroom environment, and with a facilitator a quick call away, provides more security.

It should also not be rushed. As educators, we should attempt to identify what online programs the student would benefit from most in a post-secondary setting. Given the dynamic quality of technology, there will most probably be something different and/or better available by the time he graduates. But he should be comfortable to wander around in the online space, and keen to direct his own learning.

Downes (2013) makes a good point when he states that the students should learn to “set the bar for him or herself, to set the challenges appropriately.” Helicoptering robs the child of his ability to be self-efficient, self-advocating and self-managing.

Eventually, you have to provide space in education for the diverse needs of students. The future is in technology, you might argue. Yes, but keep a balance, I say, and don’t disregard your techno-weary students, or sell them out to the Web 2.0 proponents. There is nothing wrong with a teaching model where healthy face-to-face communication supports a strong online presence.



Educause. (2011). 7 Things you should know about MOOCs.

Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: A guide to understanding the MOOC novice. Hybrid Pedagogy. 24 July 2013.

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the Primal Scream. Half an Hour. 25 July 2013.


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