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.
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.
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