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Competences, Learning Theories and MOOCs.

Our societies have come to be known as knowledge societies in which lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important. In this context, competences have become a much discussed topic. Many documents were published by international organisations (UNESCO, World Bank, European Commission) which enumerated 21st century key competences. The field of learning theories has also experienced advances. Findings from neuroscience have promoted a new understanding of what really happens in the brain when we learn. At the same time, the fact that learning increasingly takes place in virtual communities led George Siemens (2004) to propose connectivism as a learning theory for the digital age. Similarly, Roberto Carneiro (2010) suggested a theory he called generativism which aims at describing collaborative learning with digital technologies and open educational resources. These theories might be better able to describe and explain lifelong learning than classical learning theories. In the field of digital technologies, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have recently received a great deal of attention. While Siemens suggested connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) as the ideal platform for connectivist learning, other forms of MOOCs were also developed. These MOOCs have spread at a breath-taking pace in the last few years, although it is far from clear to what extent they are based on principles from learning theories and really support learning. These developments will be presented and discussed with respect to their relevance for lifelong learning as an integral part of man’s quest for meaning. (HoF/text adopted).