Education is not received. It is achieved.
There is a movement to transform formal education into schooling that will teach students to be lifelong learners with 21st century skills. The movement is made up of innovative educators, organizations, and large corporations.
One organization is the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). Their advocacy is focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. This summer Illinois, Louisiana, and Nevada joined other states in membership with P21. This brings their membership to 13 states. Could this be the beginning of a new American revolution? Each state agreed to integrate into their standards and assessment 21st century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, global awareness and financial literacy.
Also bringing formal education into the 21st century is the advent of Web 2.0 technologies. These new technologies have transformed the Web into an open platform for creative social applications. Web 2.0 technologies has allowed us to re-examine education under different circumstances. New learning approaches are developing to take advantage of the break-through in technology.
Connectivism is one such new approach. It is a view developed from the integration of principles from chaos and other theories. My simple understanding of chaos theory is that everything is somehow related to everything else. It is the study of how one truly unpredictable random event is a part of a larger overall obvious pattern.
George Siemens, author of Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age describes learning as a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements not entirely under the control of the individual.
According to Siemens, “The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.”
Personal Learning Networks (PLN) is a manifestation of Connectivism. Essentially a PLN is a personalized collection of resources used to become an expert on a subject. In a world with Web 2.0 technologies, this collection can be a network of blogs, online news, social bookmarks, online learning communities and social networks, on a website with RSS feeders.
RSS feeders are real simple syndications that provide brief updates of favorite websites. Think of them as small personal Associated Press newsfeed.
Vicki Davis, teacher and blogger, in an article for edutopia described PLN as virtual lockers where students can drive their education with custom-made web pages equipped with RSS feeds. She believes that the ability to create a PLN is a fundamental information-management skill that will help her students succeed in the future.
The use of 21st century skills to become lifelong learners is not only useful for schools and businesses, but also ultimately most beneficial to us as individuals. Welcome to the movement to use 21st century skills as a lifelong learner.
Davis, V. (2009 January 07). Personal learning networks are virtual lockers for
school kids: Students drive their education with custom-made web pages equipped with RSS feeds. Edutopia. Retrieved from
Devaney, L. (2009 June 22). 21st-century skills movement grows: Three more states
join national effort to build 21st-century skills into the core curriculum; self-assessment tool coming soon. eSchoolnews. Retrieved from
Gleick, J., (1987). Chaos: The Making of a New Science. New York, NY, Penguin Books.
Siemens, G. (2004 December 12). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.
eLearnspace: Everything elearning. Retrieved from