OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
Dec 31, 2015

Feature Article
The Downes Prize 2015
Stephen Downes, Dec 31, 2015.

Image of Downes PrizeEvery year at this time I award the Downes Prize to the most-read post of those I've posted some time in the previous 365 days. This year that means any one of 1147 total posts from hundreds of authors around the world. The award is intended to be an objective measure, not based on popularity contests, campaigns, or any other such thing, but reflective of actual interest in the item on the part of OLDaily readers..

Without further ado,


This year's Downes Prize is awarded to:

Understanding knowledge network, learning and connectivism

Alaa A. AlDahdouh, António J. Osório, Susana Caires, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning


The editor of IJITDL introduces it thusly: "This paper explores the theoretical foundations of Connectivism and relates it to previous theories of learning. Its focus is on networks – neural, internal (conceptual) and external. It relates the role of teacher, learner and knowledge within a dynamic ally changing environment. The illustrations and examples clarify the position of the authors in asserting the relevance and importance of connectivity theory and practice to technology supported learning."

In addition to being the most read post in OLDaily this year, this article was a personal favourite of mine. As I commented at the time, this is far more than a superficial treatment of connectivism. It represents a deep understanding of the theory, capturing many elements overlooked by earlier treatments and criticisms. In particular, it recognizes that connectivism embodies not just a different approach to teaching and pedagogy, but also that it represents a new and different understanding of knowledge itself.

The authors write, "In Connectivism, the structure of the knowledge is described as a network. The network is a set of nodes connected to each other. These relationships/connections may not be seen as a singular link between two nodes. Instead, they are more like patterns: groups of relationships that come together as a single whole. The network is not static; it is dynamic and those patterns may change over time. Learning, according to Connectivism, is a continuous process of network exploration and patterns finding; it is a process of patterns’ recognition." So good. So well stated and correct at a deep level. The whole paper is like this.


Honourable Mentions:


Open education the sustainable way in the knowledge age, Karen MacGregor, University World News


Reimagining Online Education, Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Ed


The ROI on open education, Martin Weller, The Ed Techie


Interview With Martin Dougiamas On Changes To Moodle Community This Year, Phil Hill, e-Literate


Problematizing the inclusion agenda in higher education, Denise Wood, First Monday


Is there a future in online learning? Tony Bates, Online Learning and Distance Education Resources


This Robot Tutor Will Make Personalizing Education Easy, Issie Lapowsk, Wired


Research: Technology Is Only Making Social Skills More Important, Nicole Torres, Harvard Business Review


Poverty, Grit, and Teachers, Taylor Williams, Mr. Williams' STEM Education Blog


Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media, Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, Social Science Research Network


The paradigm shift: Redefining education, Peter Evans-Greenwood, Kitty O’Leary, Peter Williams, Deloitte


Previous Winners


In 2014, the Downes Prize was awarded to Matt Bower, Gregor Kennedy, Barney Dalgarno, Mark J. W. Lee, Jacqueline Kenney for Blended Synchronous Learning Handbook


In 2013, the Downes Prize was awarded to Tony Bates for Discussing design models for hybrid/blended learning and the impact on the campus


In 2012, the prize was awarded to Clayton R. Wright, for his series of posts annotating educational technology conferences.


In 2011, the prize was awarded to the Consortium for School Networking for  Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 & Mobile Era.


In 2010, the prize was awarded to JISC for Effective Assessment in a Digital Age.


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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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