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Connectivism and Dimensions of Individual Experience

Keywords: Autonomy , openness , diversity , connectedness , connectivism , self-determination , massive open online course , motivation , personality theory , MOOC , identity , learner experience

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Connectivism has been offered as a new learning theory for a digital age, with four key principles for learning: autonomy, connectedness, diversity, and openness. The testing ground for this theory has been massive open online courses (MOOCs). As the number of MOOC offerings increases, interest in how people interact and develop as individual learners in these complex, diverse, and distributed environments is growing. In their work in these environments the authors have observed a growing tension between the elements of connectivity believed to be necessary for effective learning and the variety of individual perspectives both revealed and concealed during interactions with these elements. In this paper we draw on personality and self-determination theories to gain insight into the dimensions of individual experience in connective environments and to further explore the meaning of autonomy, connectedness, diversity, and openness. The authors suggest that definitions of all four principles can be expanded to recognize individual and psychological diversity within connective environments. They also suggest that such expanded definitions have implications for learners’ experiences of MOOCs, recognizing that learners may vary greatly in their desire for and interpretation of connectivity, autonomy, openness, and diversity.


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