connectedpeopleI was recently came across a new video on YouTube called “The Networked Student” by Wendy Drexler who created the video after taking a Connectivism Course. I must admit that I had not heard of Connectivism Learning Theory before watching the video but found the thesis of her video compelling and worth sharing.


A colleague, David Bill recently shared a presentation he did on his blog after taking a class on the subject. On her blog, Wendy states that the video was created as a result of trying to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?
  2. How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?
  3. What types of questions are still outstanding?
  4. How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the video you should.


What strikes me the most about Wendy’s vision of the networked student of the future is the clear connections she makes to how students will leverage the power of social media tools to help shape their learning path and process. Connectivism learning theory suggests that knowledge is distributed across connections. In her video the point is made that it is not as important what the tools are as much as the connections that are made possible as a result of using them. The “networked student” of the future structures his own learning path by engaging as an active member of a learning network. By subscribing to podcasts, commenting on blogs and share bookmarks, “networked student” of the future is able to access an extended learning network that makes his learning more active, more relevant and more meaningful.

  • Learning Architect
  • Modeler
  • Network Sherpa
  • Change Agent
  • Synthesizer
  • Connected Learning Incubator
  • Learning Concierge

Drexler has done a fantastic job of making a powerful case for how students and teachers can harness the power of technology 2.0 and in particular for our discussion here at edSocialMedia how social media tools can provide one important component to that vision.


Social media provides teachers and students with the power to connect with one another and help shape our collective learning experience. Using social media tools is one component of the vision Wendy paints for us. She provides an argument that the “networked student” of the future will not only still need a teacher, but will require a teacher that fulfills a variety of new modern and contemporary roles. It strikes me that Drexler’s vision is an important component to a redefining of learning for the future. This spring I blogged on my thoughts about “What schools could learn from Google and Apple” and the thesis of that post was that innovative and creative companies create physical environments where they are able to cultivate and foster creativity, innovation, collaboration, new designs, and 21st century problem solving. If we are going to provide students with the opportunity to connect their learning networks and collaborate with one another, then we must do away with the chair/desk systems lined up neatly in cohesive and geometric rows.


By combining the pedagogical approach of connectivism and the “networked student” with the power of social media tools in a physical learning environment that more closely resembles that of Google’s global corporate offices, the potential of teaching and learning in the future is bright indeed.


Follow Antonio on Twitter @antonioviva or on his blog

Antonio Viva

Head of School at Walnut Hill School of the Arts