OK some rudiments of understanding first, and these are based on a limited reading of what George Siemens and Stephen Downes have put out there.
Connectivism is a theory of learning.
One that values highly the means of the learning.
Seems that knowledge is created and constructed in connection with others.
(Constuctivism methinks, so what makes connectivism different???)
"learning is a network phenomenon, influenced (aided) by socialization and technology"
“To 'know' something is to be organized in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. To 'learn' is to acquire certain patterns” (Downes, 2005, Section O, ¶ 2).
Still not clearer.
So I am going to guess: Knowledge and learning are not static, there is continual learning/unlearning/reshaping at play. This occurs in connection with others and through channels that are deeply important. Here's where I think this is ANT. The others are not only human, the nonhuman others include technologies such as computers, IPS servers...the Internet. The local situated context of learning of the past has moved on.
To return to George, where learning is about making meaning, then this needs to take into account the means used and the context, because the context is now global.
This seems less a theory for understanding causality, but one for illuminating process. That connectivity via Internet has profound impact, yet to be recognised.
Knowledge not individually located but distributed; ok, still resides in indivisduals or in books, artefacts...but is not produced 'locally' the context is radically expanded, but is still produced in connection. Ok
But like communications what's written or saved as audio or blogged, wiki'd etc etc is not anything until it is shared in connection.
Still seems to be learning using a constructivist understanding that acknowledges an ANT mode in the practice.
If so whats important?
That non human actors have influence. That this influence is important, and not necessarily neutral. That inscribed in non human actors are ways of working that make certain things more and less likely. That in the making of new ways of working, we tend to surf on what has gone before and maybe this needs to be altered. That the grooves that form now or in the near past tend to make it harder to shift out of whats always been and maybe we need to.
Is it a theory?
Could actor-network theory have explored this as a means to understanding new changes in education? I think so, but it doesn't sound quite so sexy as connectivism.
Tools change people. We adapt based on new affordances.I agree, but this still would encompass a constructivist theory made relevant when informed by an ANT analysis.
Whats new; an emphasis on how knowledge, in practice, changes.
To this end, I would encourage further exploration in understanding change differently. I'd encourage looking at Bruno Latour and John Law as the work of actors(human and otherwise) create performances. Or Annmarie Mol as she describes ontologies of practice.