Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
"A theory is as much an assumption, a basis for belief, as it is an explanation, an ontology, or an understanding of things." So writes Christopher D. Sessums in this criticism of the theories advanced by George Siemens and I during last week's Connectivism conference. But this tactic of reducing all theory to the level of assumption, opinion and belief is misleading and, frankly, wrong. It's the tactic creationists use to make their fancies the scientific equivalent of the years of study and research that inform evolution. And in the same way Sessums argues that my own theory (which is not substantially different from that offered by George Siemens, despite the personification of Connectivism that seems to characterize some writing) "resists an explanation of how we overcome learning difficulties." Um.... huh? Sessums characterizes my and Siemens's work thus: "how do we design educational settings or social contexts for learning in such a way that they encourage and develop intentional learning." Perhaps he missed the bit where I said, "It's not a theory of intentional learning." You can't just wave your hands and say, "Oh I have "an instructional theory of discontent," whatever that means, and say, well, let's look at it from that perspective (or 'through that lens', as the jargon goes).

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 02:13 a.m.