Theoretical Development of Connectivism through Innovative Application in China


  • Li Chen Beijing Normal University
  • Yaqian Xu Beijing Normal University



Connectivism, Online Learning, Principles, Innovative Application, Technology and learning


As a learning theory that reveals a new learning in the Internet environment, connectivism has become a popular academic topic at the forefront of online learning. The MOOC Research Team at the Distance Education Research Centre at Beijing Normal University designed and developed the first massive open online course, adapting a connectivist (cMOOC) approach in China. Using the data collected from six offerings of the cMOOC over 3 years, the big data paradigm was used for data analysis including complex network analysis, content analysis, text mining, behaviour sequence analysis, epistemic network analysis, and statistical and econometric models. This paper summarizes the findings of the patterns of connectivist learning, including a) the basic characteristics and evolutional patterns of complex networks, b) the characteristics and modes of knowledge production, c) the patterns of instructional interactions, and d) the relationships between pipe and content and between facilitators and learners. It is expected that the outcome of this study could make contributions to understanding the changes of online learning in depth and further promote the theoretical development and practical application of a connectivist approach.

Author Biographies

Li Chen, Beijing Normal University

Li Chen, PhD, is a full professor at the Research Centre of Distance Education in Beijing Normal University in China. She has published almost 300 papers and held more than 60 projects in the field of the new principles of online education, connectivism, and educational reform driven by the Internet.

Yaqian Xu, Beijing Normal University

Yaqian Xu, is a PhD student majoring in distance education at the Beijing Normal University in China. Her research interests include connectivism, online learning analysis, and instructional interaction. Yaqian has published 10 papers in journals.


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