Thursday, May 31, 2012

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice


This is my artifact of this week’s experiment with a fascinating Web 2.0 tool called Voice Thread, which was very new exciting for me.

Italian Grammar Made Easy – Cenerentola Project-

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

This week I explored the Social Learning Theory and the Cooperative Learning Theory. I found these theories to be very insightful and like the behaviorist, cognitivist, and construcionist theories, they correlate very well with my current teaching practice. As I researched these theories I began to reflect on how they correlate with each other. Through my research I have found that the social learning theory (SLT) includes cooperative methods of teaching.  

Dr. Orey (2011), defines the Social Learning Theory as a method of learning in which students are actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others (Laureate education, 2011).  Whereas, Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec (1986) Defined Cooperative learning as, “working together to attain group goals that cannot be obtained by working alone or competitively. The main purpose is to actively involve students in the learning process; a level of student empowerment which is not possible in a lecture format” (Orey, 2001a, p. 3). Providing students with teamwork and accountability enhances their knowledge and social skills. Through collaborative learning students become more motivated, engaged, concepts and ideas are elaborated and clarified through the immediate feedback of their peers. These are just the few benefits of this learning theory, there are many more and as technology evolves rapidly, the need and importance of implementing this theory rises as well. Students thrive for communication. It is vital to them that they be able to communicate with their peers.

            It is evident that both learning theories correlate with each other because they both involve students obtaining knowledge through some type of communication. These two theories complement each other very well and are very helpful in the long term meaningful retention of knowledge and 21st century skills that or students will need to succeed and thrive in this global workforce.

However, many educators have difficulty implementing the Social Learning Theory and the cooperative learning theory because they have experienced situations where students did not work equally to complete tasks, or that this type of learning is to time consuming and difficult to assess, also many educators fear that they will lose control of the class in this learning environment. As we progress deeper and deeper into the 21st century, teaching strategies, methods, and technology will continue to change. Thereby, drastically affecting the way we teach. Teachers can no longer rely on the lecture teacher-centered approach to reach their learners. Lessons now need to be more student-centered where the teacher is the facilitator of knowledge and students are the active learners. Dr. Orey (2011a), mentions proper grouping as very important part of cooperative learning. He also states that it is important to set clear expectations of each student in the group. Furthermore, he suggests a jigsaw puzzle approach to collaborative grouping which involves assigning responsibility to each member of the for learning the information and turn-keying it to their peers. A great way to assess that students are doing their due diligence to their group is through the use of rubrics (Laureate education, Inc., 2011a). Through this process, practice with using the cooperative learning, and professional development workshops teachers will gain greater insight to the great benefits of implementing these theories into their lesson and will be able to implement them successfully.

 “One of the best ways to learn content is to teach it. Teaching others helps the learner develop a deeper understanding of the content” (Laureate education, Inc., 2011a). Technology can be a great asset to educators and students when teaching each other content. Students can work collaboratively to create multimedia projects and then use these artifacts to teach their peers about their findings trough a demonstration of their creation. Research shows that “Student-created multimedia is a natural environment for cooperative learning” (Pitler, Hubel, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p.141). Along with multimedia projects, students can create wikis, blogs, and use Skype, to engage in active anytime anywhere communication and collaboration not only with people in their very own classroom but on a global realm, as well These are just a select few of the fascinating web 2.0 tools that not only supplement the cooperative learning theory but the social learning theory, as well. Meanwhile, they are also preparing students for a fast paced, global, virtual workforce in the future (Pitler, et. al., 2007).  

This week’s resources have also raised my awareness of how much technology has changed the way we learn. In fact the Social Learning Theory and the proposed Connectivism theory surfaced from the effects of technology. With all the social medias available to our students today, such as Facebook, twitter, email, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, and Skype our students thrive on socializing. It is inevitable that we would have to incorporate these skills into our lessons in order to engage our students. In fact, “by providing teamwork and individual accountability, students work toward acquiring both knowledge and social skills” (Orey, 2001, p.3). As previously mentioned, these skills are crucial for success in today’s global workforce.  The connectivist learning theory is based primarily on the modern transitions that education has made due to the influence of technology. Connectiivism is the belief that knowledge resides in patterns of how different concepts are networked. “Learning is the act of forming networks” (Laureate education, Inc., 2011b). Being that there is an abundant amount of methods to obtain information at rapid rates we need to form networks to transfer information and store it. Some examples of these networks are mobile phones, computers, Internet, and various data collection tools. Similar to the social theory, the ability to communicate with others is vital (Laureate education, Inc., 2011)

Many of the technology tools I learned about this week were very familiar to me. However, one that was new and very intriguing to me was the use of Voice Thread. This week I was able to practice using this tool and immediately saw the benefits in using this as a cooperative learning tool in my classroom. Currently my students are working on writing a story in the past tense to enhance their skills in using the past tense vocabulary. This is a cooperative group project done partially in school and at home. Students are provided with a few sentences to begin the story and then they have to end the story however they like. The story that they are working on is Cinderella. For this project they will need to use the Internet to type, get pictures, look up unknown words using translator tools, and multi-media technology. However, after having the opportunity to experience voice thread I immediately shared it with my students and added it as an optional tool to use in completing this task. The students were equally as excited as I was because this tool allows them to work cooperatively without having to be in the same room. This tool is perfect for creating engaging, interactive learning experiences for students (Laureate education, Inc. 2011c)

I am a firm believer that technology tools can expand and extend collaborative and cooperative learning beyond our expectations. “Technology has evolved to the point where it is so simple to use that educators can create powerful meaningful learning experiences with very little time” (Laureate education, Inc.,2011c). Through the use of technology and the different learning strategies, especially cooperative learning and social learning theory educators are able to differentiate instruction more effectively and efficiently with greater levels of success because students become more motivated and engaged in the learning process.

As a foreign language teacher, I am highly aware of the benefits social learning has on education. I am also well aware of the importance of incorporating the cooperative, collaborative, and social learning theories into my lessons. Through experience and research I have seen that students learn best through communication and collaboration with peers, especially in second language acquisition (Orey, 2001). I plan t seek creative methods to effectively incorporate various web 2.0 tools like blogging, wikis, e-pals and Skype to better engage my students by providing them with an immersive global experience. Do you implement the social and cooperative learning theories in your classes? If so what technologies if any do you use to enhance your activities and better engage your students? If you do not use any technologies or these theories at all, what are you waiting for?!

Here are some links that may be useful when seeking ideas for social and cooperative learning.

Informative video clips on social learning -

I welcome any suggestions and/or comments you may have for me, as they help me to continue to grow as an educator and life-long learner, as well.

Thank you for stopping by! :)

Daniela Petruzzella


 Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Social learning theories [DVD]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology Baltimore, MD: Author.

 Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Connectivism as a learning theory [DVD]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology Baltimore, MD: Author.

 Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011c). Connectivism as a learning theory [DVD]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology Baltimore, MD: Author.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with
 classroom instruction that works.Alexandria, VA: ASCD.



  1. I definitely agree that students get a lot out of working in groups with one another. I also agree that sometimes collaborative groups can lead to issues, because one student 'appears to do all the work'. One way that I try to prevent that is by giving students designed roles in the groups that they are in. Two people might be designated as readers, while another is the scribe. Another might be creating visuals. This way, all group members have SOME part in the group that they are in.
    As we become more and more comfortable with a number of newer technologies, we can certainly implement them in our classrooms. I have yet to try out anything we have YET done, but I am very eager to use VoiceThread. It is a wonderful tool that can be very effectively used in classes. As you stated, students do not even have to be in the same class to contribute to a VoiceThread.
    You mentioned that you used it in your class. How did you use yours? How did it turn out? I am very eager to find out.

    1. Scott,

      I agree, all of these technology tools and learning theories that we have been learning about are very interesting and intriguing. Unfortunately, I have not implemented them in my lessons much either yet for several reasons. Mostly lack of time, resources, confidence, and creativity. Hopefully with more time and training this will change.

      I did use voice thread this week with my students. The assignment that I created for my Walden VoiceThread is an actual assignment that I assigned to my students to complete using their choice of software about a week ago. Once I practiced with VoiceThread I was so thrilled with it and thought it would be perfect for this project so I suggested it to my students as an option for them to use in completing this project. The students had to complete this project at home so I do not know how many of them chose to use VoiceThread yet or not and how they enjoyed it. It is due tomorrow, I just received one groups project in my e-mail and it looks great. I look forward to hearing their feedback on using this tool. I think it will be a great way to present information and engage the students in many activities and projects.

      Thank you for your comment.


  2. Daniela,
    I would love to see your students' completed VoiceThreads just to see how various students handled the tool.

    You mentioned cell phones in the classroom. That is a topic that has met a lot of opposition in many of the schools where I live. I work for a after school tutoring company, and while we have a no cell phone policy, I actually do not mind if my students have it out as long as they are being productive. Meaning, with the capabilities many cell phones have, it is a wonderful tool for looking up quick bits of information that may be helpful in understanding a concept. I do not allow texting, and if they are caught texting, they are not allowed to bring their cell phone anymore. It is amazing how many actually do not text when you give them that freedom.

    I agree 100% that if we are going to reach our students, we have no choice but to use social and cooperative learning activities to create deep and meaningful connections. Long gone are the days where lecturing worked.


  3. Whitney,

    I am looking forward to seeing their projects, as well. They were excited when I demonstrated the VoiceThread tool to them, so I am sure that they did a great job. Only a couple of the groups used it though because I had already assigned the project.

    I argree, cell phones are a big issue in schools. I feel that they should not be allowed because the texting, internet, and video features on the phones can cause a large problem. However i also feel that if students were educated on the proper usage of cell phones and the consequences of using them maliciously, then may would understand and follow the rules. However, by completely restricting them from using them at all, educators are forcing them to be sneaky with cell phones and use them maliciously. This is just a thought, I have not had much of an issue with cellular phones at the middle school level. We do however have a strict no cell phone policy. It was Lauri Oliver who discussed cellular phones.

    Thank you for your comment!