From “Connectivism” to “Ethicism”

From “Connectivism” to “Ethicism”

António dos Reis (The Graal Institute, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-873-9.ch008
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Distance learning characteristics has been changing dramatically, namely since the fourth generation of distance learning. Moreover, e-learning impressive “evolution” enabled a trade-off between learning outcomes and ethical behaviour, which traditional learning theories do not embrace and that connectivism endeavours to illustrate. Although, two important queries arise: what challenges e-learning 2.0 and 3.0 impose? And, does connectivism promote ethical knowledge? Therefore, this chapter aims to endorse a theoretical debate regarding e-learning, as well as to understand if connectivism will act as 21st century learning theory, or if the quest for an ethical connective knowledge and e-learning fusion with knowledge management itself will require a novel contribution (connethionicism). Despite the assumption that connectivism has been promoting a reasonable debate, the author‘s personal experiences highlight the need for ethicism.
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Historical Background

Presence vs. Distance Learning

During an important fraction of 19th and 20th centuries distance learning was a supporting tool for starting education, post graduation, or professional training to those who lived in peripheral areas. Therefore, Holmberg (2005) identifies several generations of distance learning:

  • 1st generation (1840 to 1970)- acknowledged correspondence courses;

  • 2nd generation (1970 to 1980)- open universities era, in which universities have full degree programmes through new media, in a systematic way, and having evaluation systems in various parts of the world;

  • 3rd generation (1980 to 1990)- videotapes and TV were the key technological features;

  • 4th generation (from the “90s” until now)- online teaching/e-learning are learning enablers. Nevertheless, this generation encompasses various strands (see section online learning generations).

Despite each generation technological features a common characteristic arises: until the 21st century presence and distance learning prevailed in two dissimilar worlds (Holmberg, 2005). Although, the evolution of e-learning to blended learning due to technological evolution gathered both realities. As a result, a distinctive feature of knowledge society is content massive production and distribution in multiple forms in order to support lifelong learning in all learning environments (Commission of the European Communities, 2009; Tuomi, 2004). Therefore, Harris, Connolly & Feeney (2009) argue that for a successful learning process in nowadays blended learning is crucial. This resumes online learning features (content delivery, potential, aperture and versatility), as well as presence learning (formal contact), in spite of e-learning latest streams of the fourth generation allow purely e-learning, as well as learners’ characteristics.

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