Although I don’t dispute that we live in a digital age which relies heavily on networked contact to others, I don’t feel that connectivism is a valid learning theory. I prefer to view connectivism as an instructional strategy. As such, I believe that technology and networking can enhance how students process knowledge. I don’t, however, believe that students gain knowledge purely by connecting information through technological networks.
When I observe students comprehending new material and developing the pattern recognition needed to process subsequent information, it may or may not involve digital means. More often, students construct meaning out of stimuli through engagement, experience, and reason. Especially in foreign languages, it’s important for students to engage, experience, and make sense of first-hand, face-to-face encounters while using the language with native speakers. This non-digital, personal interaction supersedes any contact through electronic means. While it can be improved with access to digital media, nothing can provide the long-lasting effects of learning that take place when one is physically within the target culture.
While I agree with Group A that connectivism (as an instructional theory) can enhance learning, connectivism itself does not define how students learn. Technology has changed the ways that students interact with information and others, but processing and collaboration have always been a part of instruction and learning. Connectivism simply illustrates 21st century ways for making meaning and developing a personal connection to new input. In the end, connectivism seems like a newly-packaged, high-tech version of previous learning theories such as cognitivism and constructivism.
See Group A’s wiki for more information on their viewpoints: Group A’s Connectivism Wiki.