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Social constructionism and connectivism

I recently noticed a learning theory proposed by Seymour Papert called constructionism. As the name of the theory looks fairly similar to constructivism, I began to realise I might have interchanged the theories and taken them as a single theory for a long time. When I finally saw its distinction from constructivism, I then noticed the theory can be pictured as a good complement to the theory of connectivism.

Constructionism can be summed up with a metaphor of “learning by making”. The student must construct something tangible that is personally relevant to the learner. This is the main difference from constructivism which doesn't put much importance on constructing new, tangible results and settles on constructing desired knowledge instead [1].

Connectivism seems like a more general theory of learning as it emphasizes the network perspectives. It is more applicable when thinking broadly about learning systems than plain individual humans. For individuals, focusing on the network aspect most importantly gives more weight to the knowledge of causes. It brings what is often called second and n-th-order knowledge to the centre of our attention.

I hope the following table pictures well how constructionism complements connectivism.

ConnectivismSocial constructionism
create a good pipe systemcreate something valuable to me and (shareable) to the network
map and monitor the networkshare the result and the process of learning with the network
focus on n-th order knowledgefocus on shared meaning

One of my struggles with connectivism is that the materials around the theory seem cryptic as they revel in the abstract description of its paradigm. The combination of both theories seems particularly useful for me when thinking about applying connectivism for the individual learner, for the personalisation of learning, using portfolios in teaching, learning in public and so on.


[1] ‘Situating Constructionism’. (accessed Jun. 05, 2023).