Encyclopedia of Education and Information Technologies

2020 Edition
| Editors: Arthur Tatnall

Affordances of Technological Connectivist Tools in Higher Education

  • Francis ManziraEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10576-1_231



Connectivism is a learning theory which has been gaining ground in higher education in recent years. Its currency could be attributed to the rapid development of emerging technologies, which has impacted on the ways in which knowledge is produced and accessed (Downes 2005; Siemens 2004, 2009). As a theory, connectivism is often referred to as networked learning involving more than just the technology used to achieve the end result (Darrow 2009). Connectivism assumes that “knowledge is distributed across a network of connections and knowledge nodes” (Downes 2012). Social media can be used to connect to some of these nodes of knowledge and facilitate further knowledge development on the premise of collaboration and sharing.

Although much has been written about connectivism since it was first coined by Siemens (2004) and Downes (2005) as a new learning theory, not much has been written about the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adria M, Rose T (2004) Technology, pre-processing, and resistance – a comparative case study of intensive classroom teaching. J Educ Bus 80(1):53–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell F (2011) Connectivism: it’s place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning. Int Rev Res Open Dist Learn 12(3):98–118Google Scholar
  3. Bower M (2008) Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educ Media Int 45(1):3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bryant P, Coombs A, Pazio M, Walker S (2014) Disruption, destruction, construction or transformation? The challenges of implementing a university wide strategic approach to connecting in an open world. In: 2014 OCW Consortium Global Conference: Open Education for a Multicultural World, 23–25 April 2014, Ljubljana, SloveniaGoogle Scholar
  5. Callaghan N, Bower M (2009) Learning through social networking sites – the critical role of the teacher. Educ Media Int 49(1):1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Church K, De Oliveira R (2013) What’s up with WhatsApp? Comparing mobile instant messaging behaviours with traditional SMS. In: Mobile HCI 2013 – collaboration and communication. ACM, Munich, pp 352–361Google Scholar
  7. Conole G, Dyke M (2004) What are the affordances of information and communication technologies? ALT-J 12(2):113–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Darrow S (2009) Connectivism learning theory: Instructional tools for college courses. Master’s thesis, Education Department, Western Connecticut State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  9. Day D, Lloyd MM (2007) Affordances of online technologies: more than the properties of the technology. Aust Educ Comput 22(2):17–21Google Scholar
  10. Del Moral M E, Cernea A & Villalustre, L (2013) Connectivist learning objects and learning styles. Interdiscip J E-Learn Learn Objects 9. Publisher@InformingScience.orgGoogle Scholar
  11. Downes S (2005) An introduction to connective knowledge.Google Scholar
  12. Downes S (2012) Connectivism and connective knowledge: Essays on meaning and learning networks. National Research Council CanadaGoogle Scholar
  13. Dunaway MK (2011) Connectivism: learning theory and pedagogical practice for networked information landscapes. Ref Serv Rev 39(4):675–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gee JP (2014) Collected essays on learning and assessment in the digital world. Common Ground, IllinoisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gibson JJ (1977) The theory of affordances. In: Shaw R, Bransford J (eds) Perceiving, acting, and knowing: Toward an ecological psychology. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 67–82Google Scholar
  16. Gibson JJ (1979) The ecological approach to visual perception. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Johnson L, Adams B S, Estrada V, Freeman A (2014) NMC horizon report: 2014 higher, Education edition. The New Media Consortium, AustinGoogle Scholar
  18. Madge C, Meek J, Wellens J, Hooley T (2009) Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: ‘it is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work’. Learn Media Technol 34(2):141–155.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17439880902923606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ng’ambi D, Bozalek V, Gachago D (2013) Converging institutional expertise to model teaching and learning with emerging technologies. Progressio 35(2):9–36Google Scholar
  20. Ngunjiri FW, Hernandez KAC, Chang H (2010) Living autoethnography: connecting life and research. J Res Pract 6(1)Google Scholar
  21. Norman DA (1988) The psychology of everyday things. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Pettenati MC, Cigognini ME (2007) Social networking theories and tools to support connectivist learning activities. Int J Web-Based Learn Teach Technol (IJWLTT) 2(3):42–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Raab D (2013) Transpersonal approaches to autoethnographic research and writing. Qual Rep, 18: 1–18. http://www.nova.edu.ssss/QR/QR18/raab42.pdf
  24. Rambe P, Bere A (2013) Using mobile instant messaging to leverage learner participation and transform pedagogy at a south African University of Technology. Br J Educ Technol 44(4):544–561.  https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rambe P, Nel L (2014) Technological utopia, dystopia and ambivalence: teaching with social media at a south African university. Br J Educ Technol.  https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12159
  26. Rowe M, Bozalek V, Frantz J (2013) Using Google drive to facilitate a blended approach to authentic learning. Br J Educ Technol 44(4):594–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Seaman J, Tinti-Kane H (2013) Social media for teaching and learning. Pearson Learning Solutions, BostonGoogle Scholar
  28. Selwyn N (2012) Social media in higher education. http://sites.jmu.edu/flippEDout/files/2013/04/sample-essay-selwyn.pdf
  29. Siemens G (2004) Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Int J Instr Technol Dist Learn 2(1):3–10Google Scholar
  30. Siemens G (2008) Learning and knowing in networks: changing roles for educators and designers. Paper 105. University of Georgia IT Forum. http://www.it.coe.uga.edu
  31. Stevenson M, Hedberg JG (2011) Head in the clouds: a review of current and future potential for cloud-enabled pedagogies. Educ Media Int 48(4):321–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang Z, Chen L, Anderson T (2014) A framework for interaction and cognitive engagement in connectivist learning contexts. Int Rev Res Open Dist Learn 15(2):121–141Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Management Sciences, Department of Business, Information SystemsUniversity of VendaThohoyandouSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bill Davey
    • 1
  1. 1.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia