Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?


  • Rita Kop University of Wales Swansea
  • Adrian Hill Open School BC



E-learning, Online Learning, Open Learning, Distance Education, pedagogy, learning theory, educational theory


Siemens and Downes initially received increasing attention in the blogosphere in 2005 when they discussed their ideas concerning distributed knowledge. An extended discourse has ensued in and around the status of ‘connectivism’ as a learning theory for the digital age. This has led to a number of questions in relation to existing learning theories. Do they still meet the needs of today’s learners, and anticipate the needs of learners of the future? Would a new theory that encompasses new developments in digital technology be more appropriate, and would it be suitable for other aspects of learning, including in the traditional class room, in distance education and e-learning? This paper will highlight current theories of learning and critically analyse connectivism within the context of its predecessors, to establish if it has anything new to offer as a learning theory or as an approach to teaching for the 21st Century.

Author Biographies

Rita Kop, University of Wales Swansea

Rita Kop is lecturer in the Department of Adult Continuing Education. She developed the MA in Lifelong Learning programme on which she currently teaches. She started work in the department in 1998 after a career as teacher and head teacher in Dutch primary education and has a wide experience in developing access to Higher Education. She is interested in the potential of online learning to develop and deliver innovative learning opportunities and her research interests are in online communications, learning and teaching in online environments, digital inclusion, widening participation, and institutional change.

Adrian Hill, Open School BC

Adrian Hill is an educational project manager with Open School BC. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a Bachelor's degree in Education from McGill University, and has been working in the field of e-learning for five years. His main interests are educational theory, Aboriginal education and alternative education.



How to Cite

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(3).



Research Articles