What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC?

Thanks Frances for bringing this to the table through her post on Orienting to MOOC. Glad also to learn about Jeffrey, Jenny, Matthias, Markuos and Heli’s views.  Stephen mentions in comments here:

MOOCs and the connectivist approach to learning, as I have argued elsewhere, is by contrast ‘cooperative’. There is no presumption of unity, order, shared goals or coherence. There’s no sense of being ‘in the group’ or its opposite. If teams or groups form, they are tangential to the course, and not the core or essence of it.

So, if you are discussing ‘Collaborative Open Online Learning’, you are not discussing MOOCs. Perhaps you are discussing things like WikiEducator or OERu, where everybody is pulling the same way. I don’t know.

Stephen has also elaborated on collaboration and cooperation here. I had composed a response post here.

Collaboration versus cooperation is nuanced to me.  I could see the difference between the two, especially when learning through MOOC and with others, when “we” actively converse with each others through different channels in MOOC.  It seems that some participants were cooperating for most of the time, though a few participants might collaborate in small groups or teams to work on specific tasks – on research, or wiki, or the MOOCast.  It is therefore important to distinguish between individual learning, networked learning and group learning, as a way of learning over the internet and webs.  The table here - From Cooperation to Collaboration summarizes it well.

There have been tensions in between group and teams learning requiring collaborative participation and individuals learning in a network based principally on PLN/PLE, as revealed in many researches throughout the past, mainly because of the perception of collaborative participation in an online education, where there were also differences in the team’s goals and individual learner’s goals:

“Some of the darker sides of collaborative participation which in its extreme manifestations can be experienced as normative and, we suggest, as a form of tyranny of the dominant and which instead of having a liberating effect, reinforces a form of oppression and control.”

In the case of MOOC networked learning, as pointed out by Clay Shirky here: “Not everyone can participate in every conversation.  Not everyone gets to be heard.” This also relates to the power associated with networks, where power distribution is often uneven, often following a long tail phenomena, even if it is under a small group learning in the networks.

Photo: Google?

These were also reflected throughout the CCKs and MOOCs, where individuals set their own paths of learning using networks, without necessarily sharing any unity, order, or shared goals, within those networks or organizations.  Bloggers just focused on self-reflecting using their blogs and sharing through their PLN (Twitter) or aggregating or curating their collectives (Delicious, Scoop.it or Paper.li, Google Reader) etc.  Learning through such thinking it ALOUD, with reflexive learning is more common to the participation of forum discussion and sharing in the more recent MOOCs.  So, does it reflect the cooperative rather than the collaborative nature of networked learning?

Some participants of MOOC viewed MOOC as a collaborative platform where Cathy says: “This course will allow us the opportunity to collaborate together and experience first hand this new way to learn.”  There may still be many interpretations about the diverse nature of networked learning, based on MOOC experience.

When it comes to changes in formal and informal learning, we may need to think about the pedagogy involved, where there may also be a shift from collaborative learning in institutions to cooperative learning in networks.  There may also be a shift from cooperative learning in networks to collaborative learning in institutions when MOOC is formally institutionalized and accreditated in institutions.  Does it address the difference between cooperation and collaboration learning in the networks/groups?


Brian Christens & Paul W. Speer.  Tyranny/ Transformation: Power and Paradox in Participatory Development

Debra Ferreday and Vivien Hodgson. The Tyranny of Participation and Collaboration in Networked Learning



What will a Batch of Honor Lead You to? I think therefore I am?

Aren’t we living in a World of Batches?  Alex in his post of Welcome to the Batch World says: “But I don’t want a badge. I want to be able to do something just because I want to do it” Me too. What’s the use of badge for me?  Especially when I am no longer in pursuit of fame, honor or praises, from a materialistic perspective of Batches.  Under Matthew 6- Luke 12:33-34 Riches in Heaven “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal.  Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal.  For your heart will always be where your riches are.” So, if I were to interpret what batches mean to me, then wouldn’t it be better to focus on storing up “batches” for yourselves in heaven, rather than on earth?

Purposes of Batches

Batches are designed for many purposes, and they could be great rewards and awards to recognize certain people who have done great work in society or community.  So batches could be quite an honor for those people who have contributed significantly to society or communities, and that is an excellent way to motivate and recognize people. On-line batches are often awarded based on nominations, and that could be significant for those who have greatly contributed to the social media or networking, online community, through blogging, or network and community development.  However, it is also important to realize that promoting such batches in society would also lead people to associate batches to the promotion of values underlying those batches.  What sort of societal values do “we” want to promote through the “award of batches”?  Should the values be based on individual achievement? Or network/group/team achievement?

How do batches relate to learning?

I have noted the popular use of batches as a reward based on extrinsic motivation, and it may serve its purposes for young kids, especially when the education system would also like to see and reward the high flying colors.  So batches seem to relate to motivation which is also associated with learning.  There are, however, times when learning is only perceived as valuable when it is successful, or that learning is viewed as an end goal, rather than a process and journey.

As I have shared in my comments here: “To this end, it may be more appropriate to emphasize the importance of learning through goal setting, strategic planning and connectivist learning using various tools, media, and networks. In this connection, failures would be viewed as part of the complexity of learning in the learning process and journey, rather than the labeling of failure as totally undesirable in learning.”

Batches and their relationship to Individualism and collectivism

Research into individualism and collectivism may also lead us to a better understanding into why batches are important for individuals, especially in the Western world. Descartes had endorsed epistemological individualism from a rationalist perspective.  He pointed to the individual mind as the source of knowledge in his Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am).  There are lots of differences in the wants and expectations between people of the west and that of the east, as illustrated here and here.  Batches (or qualifications) seem to be the entry ticket to the dream career that people in Asian countries are looking for.  So, without a batch (or qualification), it could be hard to earn a job with decent salary.

In reflection: Batches, honors, fame and wealth can come and go, only love and learning lasts.