I have received an invitation to take part in a collaborative critical review of Connectivism by Roy Williams who I met through the Connectivism and Connected Learning course run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The project is seeking to critically assess Connectivism and examine whether there is a benefit in providing a Web 2 Learning Theory.
By and large, I find the core concepts of Connectivism have value. It may be less applicable in some knowledge domains than others, and the nature of the digital divide (in terms of those with/without access, those with/without motivation etc.) means that it is obviously not directly applicable to all. However, as a model of the way I have been tending to learn over the last 6 years since returning to full time higher education, I find it works. Perhaps because of my natural anti-authoritarian, idealist nature, I find 'old fashioned' learning theories (particularly instructivism) do not fit my own learning patterns. I am generally quite introspective, and pose thought experiments to myself and examine them in depth before bringing them back to the 'real world' for a sanity check. I find this works well in a Connectivist network, where I can garner small pieces of information to trigger ideas and set me on a particular course of thinking, whereas in a more formal setting I find my thought constrained by the ideas being 'imposed' and my rebellious side leads me to argue (generally internally) with the received wisdom.
My model of mind, which comprises an internal filter which is re-programmed by experience throughout life, suggests that the instructional model can provide effective training, but poor education. Training results in conditioned responses to particular stimuli, but seldom provides any flexibility to allow for problem solving. Education, on the other hand, encourages the individual to find their own learning route to solve problems - whether the problem is how to pass an exam, how to get a particular job, or how to solve an integral.