George Siemens is a writer, theorist, speaker, and researcher on learning, networks, technology, analytics and visualization, openness, and organizational effectiveness in digital environments. He is the originator of Connectivism theory and author of the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and the book Knowing Knowledge - an exploration of the impact of the changed context and characteristics of knowledge.
Siemens joined the faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Arlington in December 2013 as the executive director of the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab or LINK Lab. The LINK Lab is scheduled to open spring 2014. He was formerly a professor at the Center for Distance Education and a researcher and strategist with the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada. His role as a social media strategist involves planning, researching, and implementing social networked technologies, with a focus on systemic impact and institutional change.
Prior to Athabasca University, Siemens held a post as the Associate Director, Research and Development with the Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba. His PhD work, with the University of Aberdeen, focused on how individuals sensemake and wayfind in complex information settings. Siemens has received honorary doctorates from the Universidad de San Martin de Porres (May 2012) and the University of the Fraser Valley (June 2014).
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Siemens is a prominent Canadian educator in the massive online open course (MOOC) format. In 2008, Siemens and Stephen Downes designed and taught a MOOC which was reported as a "landmark in the small but growing push toward 'open teaching,'" and has since offered various additional MOOCs which have gained popular worldwide attention.
Distinction between cMOOCs and Behaviourist MOOCs
Siemens' offerings, since they are created in the Connectivist format, are referred to as cMOOCs, as distinguished from some MOOC offerings which are designed within a behaviourist framework. Distance education expert Tony Bates has criticized the behaviourist approach in many MOOCs currently offered for their lack of fostering "higher order skills of critical thinking, creative thinking, and original thinking using behaviourist pedagogy, the very skills that are needed in a knowledge-based society," but noted that "the ‘Canadian’ MOOCs of Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Dave Cormier do not suffer from this fault."
- Parry, Marc (August 29, 2010). "Online, Bigger Classes May Be Better Classes". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
- Bates, Tony. "What's Right and What's Wrong with Coursera-style MOOCs". Retrieved January 4, 2013.
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