Social networks, digital resources, and other online tools have revolutionized the online training landscape. In this article, I’ll explore how to apply the Connectivism Theory in online training.


George Siemens and Stephen Downes are the main proponents of the Connectivism Theory, which suggests that online networks and resources play a vital role in the learning experience. It also delves into the significance of social interactions and their impact on our behaviors and cognitions in a virtual context. According to Siemens and Downes, learning involves a series of nodes and connections. The nodes represent information, emotions, learning materials, and other essential components. An online learner must be able to link these individual nodes to expand or enhance their network. Another key aspect of connectivism is that the learning process is fluid. New information, technologies, and social resources are always changing and evolving. Here are 6 tips to apply Connectivism in online training.

1. Invite Employees To Go Beyond Their Tech Comfort Zone

The online training landscape has a lot to offer. In fact, the possibilities to expand knowledge and build skills is virtually limitless. However, employees must be ready to explore unfamiliar online training resources to form new connections, thereby adding another node to their network. Encourage employees to venture out of their comfort zones to discover new information sharing platforms. For example, watch a demo video on YouTube to improve task performance or join a new group on LinkedIn where they can chat with like-minded professionals. They may have grown accustomed to visiting the same news and social media sites but there are a myriad of other online resources that offer exciting opportunities to grow and broaden their knowledge.

2. Cultivate Social Media Groups

One of the cornerstones of the Connectivism Theory is that online training experiences involve differences of opinion. Our diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experience levels enrich the learning process, but only if we are ready to respect others’ values and beliefs, even if we don’t share them. Social media groups give your employees the ability to discuss important issues, exchange ideas, and provide feedback. They can chat about any topics that are relevant at the moment instead of relying on outdated online training resources that feature stale ideologies.

3. Create An Up-To-Date Online Training Library

All of the online training resources that employees utilize should be current. They need to include the most accurate data so that corporate learners can form meaningful connections instead of memorizing stale facts and stats. Keep in mind that the Connectivism Theory capitalizes on modern technology. Your employees have access to the most relevant and up-to-date online training resources they can find. As such, you might consider an online training library that features helpful links, like articles, video demos, and sites that explore online training topics. Update the list on a regular basis to ensure that all of the online training resources are still fresh and tie into current training needs.

4. Give Employees Control Of The Social Learning Experience

The Connectivism Theory places equal emphasis on self-guided and social learning experiences. Employees must be able to choose their own online training path and pursue information on their own terms. However, they can also take advantage of social learning opportunities to expand their boundaries. The learning process occurs both autonomously and synchronously, depending on the subject matter and corporate learners’ needs. For example, employees need to gather more information about a specific company policy. They venture online and look for relevant guides, online training tutorials, and videos in the Learning Management System. But this is just the tip of the tech iceberg. Employees can also visit online discussions, social media groups, and corporate eLearning blogs to deepen their understanding. After the fact, they are able to evaluate and organize the information to take what they need and leave the rest behind. Thereby, reducing the risk of cognitive overload.

5. Emphasize The Importance Of Ongoing Online Training

Employees need to be able to navigate networks to discover new nodes and build connections. But this isn’t a one-time thing. They have to continually seek out new online training resources and maintain the connections they’ve already created, as well as identify the relationship between new and pre-existing ideas. The learning process is an immense network of interconnected nodes that must be cultivated. Employees cannot simply plug in a node and expect it to remain for years to come. It must revisited and the information reinforced on a regular basis. This also allows them to see relationships that may have overlooked or discover fresh information that pertains to current challenges or situations.

6. Encourage Employees To Frequently Challenge Their Assumptions

The Connectivism Theory is about the journey, rather than the destination. Employees must be able to challenge their assumptions based on new information, as well as evaluate their current cognitions to identify and uproot limiting beliefs. The connectivism motto is that the pursuit for knowledge and the capacity to acquire new information trumps the current knowledge base. One of the most effective ways to challenge employee assumptions is to encourage self-reflection. For example, post a question or prompt on your online discussion or ask them to participate in a branching scenario or simulation. Τhen evaluate their performance. They may discover that a piece of incorrect information or a personal belief is hindering their work behavior. As a result, they can update their memory banks and form new nodes.

The Connectivism Theory centers on digital resources and the part they play in modern online training experiences. Effective online training involves both internal and external processes. Employees must be able to seek out online training resources and social interactions that broaden their knowledge base. But they also need to evaluate each online training activity to find meaning and retain only the necessary data. Last, but not least, they need to appreciate that information is constantly in flux and that lifelong learning is the only way to achieve their true potential.

Wondering how to battle memory lapses and improve knowledge retention by calling in the reinforcements? Read the article 9 Creative Ways To Reinforce Key Concepts In Online Training to discover creative ways to reinforce key concepts in online training.

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