Books by Stephen Downes


Some of my most popular work is in this collection. From the outset, what I sought to do was to combine some of my most useful work for learners – my guides to learning and blogging, for example – with my less formal works on education. The effort here is to present a case for a type of learning by producing a volume that is also an instance of that learning, and that has as its subject the content of that learning.

Free Learning

There is a story to be told about open source, open content, and open learning from the point of view of the person desiring access to these things, rather than from the point of view of the provider. This book is a collection of my writings on open educational resources and open access to learning.


A conversation between Stephen Downes and David Wiley on the subject of open educational resources. Topics covered include:

  • What are OERs and Why do we want Them? What's Our Objective Here?
  • Providing Learning vs Supporting Learning
  • Perspectives on OERs: Users and Producers
  • OERs Created by Providers vs. Created by Community

Toward Personal Learning

Each age sets its own priorities, and personal learning I think captures what is important today. The first is the idea of autonomy in a connected world. We are reaching the end-game in the century-long struggle between individualism and collectivism. I reject both, and essentially for the same reason: they reject the humanity of individuals. A second is the idea that we need to reorganize knowledge in such a way as to better prepare people for a complex and changing world. And the third is the tension between commercial good and social good, especially with respect to open learning and open content, but also with respect to society and values generally.

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge

Connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. The bulk of this work is devoted to tracing the implications of this thesis in learning. Yes, this could have been a shorter book – and perhaps one day I’ll author a volume without the redundancies, false starts, detours and asides, and other miscellany. Such a volume would be sterile, however, and it feels more true to the actual enquiry to stay true to the original blog posts, essays and presentations that constitute this work.

The Learning Marketplace

There is a single, unified theory underlying all of my work, a theory that, because it can’t be summarized in nine steps or a neat taxonomy, is perhaps a but hard to grasp, but is nonetheless as powerful, as expressive, and in my view, as correct as any other approach to the discipline. If I had to give it a name, I would call it ‘network learning’ (though that name has already been taken). In any case, it is very difficult to see the strands of the theory, much less the structural and methodological consistency between strands, without being able to view my work here as a single entity.

Knowledge, Learning and Community

This book was automatically generated from my website management system and organized my articles and newsletter links into subject headings. Today (2011, ten years later) the bulk of these links no longer work. The subjects covered include learning and learning theory, online learning design, copyright, community, and of course knowledge.

Chapters by Stephen Downes

Connectivism DefinedSeven Habits of Highly Connected PeopleA Look at the Future of Open Educational ResourcesOpen Educational ResourcesHow to Write Articles Quickly and ExpertlyAn Introduction to Connective KnowledgeE-Learning 2.0Necessary and Sufficient ConditionsCritical Thinking in the Classroom