Designing for connectivity and networked learning


Another blog post about the ‘Rethinking pedagogy’ writing workshop. In this post I consider what the future of learning would look like if the affordances of networked technologies were fully embraced. The post centres on the question: What would a scenario of the future look like where the potential benefits and affordances of connectivity were fully exploited for learning? Essentially we would be in a position of an evolving ecology of learners co-constructing and applying their understanding to address complex and tricky real-life challenges.

At a meta-level the collective understanding of the network would be greater than the sum of the individual parts. Residues of learning would reside in the network, leaving a digital learning trail of evolved understanding. A truly rhizomatic learning network,(Cormier 2011) horizontal, evolving, networked and intelligent; constantly adapting to its environment and capitalising on the expertise of both Actants and Non-Actants in the network;(Latour 2005) i.e. learning would distributed being humans and tools, forming a meta distributed cognition.(Salomon 1993) By its nature it would be adaptive, able to respond to changing contexts.  

Learners could tap into the network as and when they needed. Formal educational roles (such as teacher and student) would no longer have resonance. Each individual would adopt different roles in different scenarios, asking for help as a learner in one context, providing expertise as a teacher in another. Participation would be as important as acquisition.(Sfard 1998Participants in the network would also co-designers, helping to evolve and shape the network.


Cormier, D. (2011). Rhizomatic learning – why we teach? Dave’s education blog: education, post-structuralism and the rise of the machines.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory, Oxford University Press, USA.

Salomon, G., Ed. (1993). Distributed cognitions – pyschological and educational considerations. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.           

Sfard, A. (1998). “On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one.” Educational researcher 27(2): 4.