University of Manitoba

Extended Education Faculty

Course Outline


Students are encouraged to retain this outline should they require it for future credit requests.

COURSE TITLE: Connectivism, Networked Learning, and Connective Knowledge, 2012


PROGRAM: Certificate Interdisciplinary Studies: Emerging Technologies for Learning (


DATES: Jan. 23 – April 16, 2012

TERM: Winter 2012


INSTRUCTORS(S): George Siemens and Stephen Downes

George is the associate director at Technology Enhanced Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University. His research focuses on learning analytics social networked technologies, focusing on systemic impact and institutional change. Prior to TEKRI, he was the Associate Director, Research and Development with the Learning Technologies Centre, University of Manitoba.

Stephen Downes works for the National Research Council of Canada where he has served as a Senior Research, based in Moncton, New Brunswick, since 2001. Affiliated with the Learning and Collaborative Technologies Group, Institute for Information Technology, Downes specializes in the fields of online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy


Email: Shared in course syllabus (for-credit students)

Availability/Office Hours for registered (for-credit) students:
Weekly – Friday during Elluminate sessions. Other office times can be arranged to meet the needs of learners.


All the materials for this course are online. Course information will be posted at: Readings and syllabus will be posted at The Course Outline and Assignment grades will be posted in the ANGEL LMS.

  • High speed access to the Internet
  • Computer with speakers
  • Computer headset with attached microphone. Please ensure that your headset has the attached microphone. You can purchase these anywhere computer hardware is sold, for about $30.00.

  • Most tools are online – i.e. blogs, discussion forums, The Daily email newsletter, etc. Additional details will be provided as the course begins.
  • ANGEL learning management system. Instructions to access this will be provided by University of Manitoba.
  • The course is offered online in an open format, with non-credit learners participating. Learners are encouraged to participate through blogs, discussion forums, and other online spaces. During the first week of the course, resources will be provided detailing the course design and instructional philosophies.

Connectivism and Connective knowledge will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and discuss their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. This course will help participants make sense of the transformative impact of technology in teaching and learning over the last decade. The voices calling for reform do so from many perspectives, with some suggesting 'new learners' require different learning models, others suggesting reform is needed due to globalization and increased competition, and still others suggesting technology is the salvation for the shortfalls evident in the system today. While these views argue for change, they overlook the primary reasons why change is required. This course will tackle the deep-rooted change pressures and explore why systemic response is required.

This course will provide a theoretical overview and practical implications of learning theory and epistemology in relation to learning in online and distributed environments. At the end of this course you will be able to:
  • Describe and evaluate the effectiveness of connectivism as a theory of learning at neuronal, conceptual, and external levels, focusing on technologically-mediated and socially-networked knowledge development.
  • Define key network characteristics that exist across multiple network types (biological, social, mathematical) and describe how these characteristics are expressed in learning networks.
  • Describe three views of knowledge - quantitative, qualitative, and connective – and evaluate contexts in which different knowledge approaches are desirable.
  • Evaluate the ideological underpinnings of existing power structures within institutions that influence the adoption of new pedagogical or technological innovations.
  • Apply basic tenets of complexity science to describe the interconnectedness and modular component of curriculum development and delivery.
  • Describe the value of openness with content and conversations in supporting connective knowledge development
  • Analyze the shortcomings and specific applications of communities and networks.

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is an open online course, focused on how social networked technologies impact theories of learning. The course will address the impact of distributed cognition, networked learning, and social learning theory on traditional education systems"

The following topics will be covered in this course:
• What is Connectivism?
• Rethinking epistemology: Connective knowledge
• Properties of Networks
• History of networked learning
• Connectives and Collectives: Distinctions between networks and groups
• Complexity, Chaos and Randomness
• Instructional design and connectivism
• Power, control, validity, and authority in distributed environments
• What becomes of the teacher? New roles for educators
• Openness: social change and future directions
• Systemic change: How do institutions respond?
• The Future of Connectivism and Directions in Research

Instructors reserve the right to adjust the course schedule without prior notification, to meet changing demands in the delivery of the course. It is your responsibility to follow-up in cases of missed classes.

Pre-course orientation January 16 – 23, 2012. The Instructor will be contacting for-credit students by email with information.
Dues Dates
Week 1: What is Connectivism?
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 2: Patterns of connectivity: Properties of networks
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 3: Connective Knowledge: Is epistemology still relevant?
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 4: Critiques of, and unique claims made in, Connectivism
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 5: Groups, Networks and Collectives
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Paper 1 Due
Week 6: Personal Learning Environments & Networks
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Mid-course participation evaluation
(conducted by course instructor)
Week 7: Complex Adaptive Systems: Plasticity and Associative Learning
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 8: Power & Authority
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 9: Openness & Transparency
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 10: Net Pedagogy: The role of the Educator?
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Week 11: Research & Analytics: Bringing External Data into Networks
Weekly live session (will be recorded)
Concept map due
Week 12: Changing views, changing systems: From grassroots to policy
Final Project Due

Short paper 1: Position on Connectivism
February 27, 2012
Course participation
Evaluated throughout the course
Concept Map
April 9, 2012
Final Project
April 16, 2012

Letter Grade
Numerical Score
Grade Point
Very Good

NOTE: Carefully read your program information and course outlines so you are aware of the requirements for successful completion of the courses and programs.

Rubrics will be provided by the instructors.


If you cannot submit assignments by the deadline, the instructor must approve any extensions, in advance.

Short Paper 1: Your position on Connectivism

The first few weeks of this course have provided a backdrop against which to consider the need for new views of learning. Strongly suggested through the readings is the view that information growth, technology, developments in social learning theory, and advancements in our understanding of minds and cognition require a reconsideration of learning theory. This course is partly concerned with providing participants access to learning through networks - experiencing the value of forming connections between people and ideas/concepts. This short paper (between 500-750 words) is an opportunity for you to clarify and state your position on connectivism. Is it a new theory of learning? Or is the concept of theory distracting? What are the weaknesses of connectivism as formulated in this course? What are the strengths? Does connectivism resonate with your learning experiences? If so, how? What are your outstanding questions?
Length: 500-750 words. Please provide citations/links to support your position. Citation formatting will not factor into your paper mark, but use of APA formatting is appreciated.


Your participation grade is equally distributed across two criteria:
  1. Active weekly participation in blogging (including commenting on the blogs of other course participants), social bookmarking, Google Groups, and Twitter (alternative arrangements can be made if you are not comfortable posting online).
  2. Quality of participation: your weekly blog posts are the only source for evaluating quality of participation. Your mark will be based on the following criteria:
  3. Quality of your contribution: A high quality weekly post will demonstrate an understanding of the weekly readings and course topics. The post will offer new insight into the topic being considered by bringing in related theory or illustrations of practical implementation (including challenges or barriers).
  4. Connection to others: A high quality weekly post will incorporate course readings, videos, and also the insights of other course participants. A strong post
  5. Critical reflection: A high quality weekly post will offer a critical perspective of readings and weekly discussions. In particular, the post should draw out assumptions that under-pin discussions, readings, and presentations, and explore contexts in which course concepts may not be fully applicable.
  6. Creative contribution: A high quality weekly post will include the use of media to creatively communicate ideas and concepts. The use of images, concept maps, embedded presentations, audio, and video are examples of possible media for communicating your weekly reflections.

Concept Map

This course will require you to use a concept map to capture and express relationships between ideas. Concept maps are an opportunity to relate ideas and concepts and demonstrate connections that are often not noticed in more linear instructional processes. Throughout the course, you will be asked to take the key ideas discussed each week and detail how the concepts are connected. You may find that you only add a handful of items per week, or you may find that you get quite detailed in expressing conceptual relationships and add dozens (or more) items. This article details how concept maps work:

Tools: You can create your concept map by downloading CMAP (free tool) or using TheBrain (free trial version). Throughout the course you will be asked to export (with CMAPs) your concept map and post online for feedback. If you use TheBrain, you can export your entire "brain" and post on a site (via ftp).

Final Project

Your final presentation can be handled in a variety of formats: podcast, slidecast, Articulate presentation, video recording, Second Life presentation, or, if your feeling creative, an approach of your choosing (if you're enrolled in the course for credit, please confirm your project with instructors). The final project should answer questions such as: "What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I? How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)? What types of questions are still outstanding? How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?"

Midway through the course, you will be given the opportunity to voluntarily form small groups to bounce around ideas on how to handle this assignment and to submit your work for peer-review before your final submission.

Distribution of marks
Short Paper
Concept paper
Final Project

Instructors will make every effort to return grades in a prompt manner. Instructors have the discretion to deduct marks for failing to meet the requirements as specified by the assignment details, grading rubrics, course outline, etc. An instructor can request a second review of a student’s work, if the student fails to meet the requirements of the assignment as specified.

To ensure confidentiality and anonymity, if you are asked to use your place of work or real life workplace for project-based activities, you are encouraged to use pseudonyms (false names) to disguise departments, persons and places. This course is delivered in an open online format. If you are concerned about identifying yourself or your workplace, pseudonuyms are encouraged. You can be assured that personal information related to grading and assignment feedback will be treated in a confidential manner.

It is important to the Continuing Education (CE) Area of the Extended Education that the reputation and quality of its programs are maintained and that everyone associated with them upholds the principles of academic integrity. This can be accomplished when all stakeholders act in a fair and reasonable manner toward peers, faculty, staff, administration and the physical property of the University. The achievement of this goal is equally important both on-campus and off-campus. Violations of University regulations which have been adopted to protect the university community will be subject to disciplinary action. Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to:

  • To take ideas or words of another person and pass them off as one’s own without referencing the source, this includes published and unpublished works as well as tables, graphs and diagrams. To provide adequate documentation is not only an indication of academic honesty but also a courtesy which enables the reader to consult your sources with ease.
  • copying the answers of another student or providing answers to another student in any test, examination, or take-home assignment
  • taking unauthorized materials into an examination or term test
  • impersonating another student or allowing another student to impersonate you for the purpose of submitting academic work or writing any text or examination
  • accessing tests prior to the time and date of the sitting
  • changing answer(s) on a test after that test has been graded and returned
  • group projects are subject to the same rules regarding academic dishonesty

  • The University of Manitoba endeavors at all times to provide an environment that is supportive of the fair treatment of all members of the University community and is conducive to relationships based on mutual respect, cooperation and understanding.
  • The University does not condone behavior that is likely to undermine the dignity, self-esteem or productivity of any staff member or student.
  • The University must not and will not condone any unreasonable discrimination based on, inter alia, racial, ethnic or national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, disability, religious belief or political belief, and any coercive or harassing behavior that violates not only the human rights of the victim but also the fundamental human rights and values of the University, including the value it places on high standards of personal and professional integrity and responsibility.

Violations of academic integrity including plagiarism, cheating, vandalism, sexual harassment and human rights are serious offenses and may lead to a range of disciplinary measures up to, and including, dismissal or expulsion.

This course is open and conducted online. As such, you are encouraged to use the ideas of others to form your ideas and develop your concept map, assignments, and work, provided that you reference sources for your inspiration. This course does not have an examination or test component, but the points detailed above are required by University of Manitoba (which is why they are included here).

George SiemensJanuary 21, 2012