#Change11 Is this rhizomatic learning? My view on MOOC

I read Jenny’s post with mixed feelings.  I could understand that alienation is an uncomfortable feeling, as Terry mentioned, and that being involved in MOOC, but then he didn’t seem to find it right:

I recognize that education is a two edged sword and can also stamp out creativity, as evidenced by studies of changes in school aged children – but it also provides a context for students to learn how to create, think and get along with and tend the various weeds (personal and institutional) in our gardens. Education, like other institutional systems both creates and is created by individual and social hierarchies. You can also see that children don’t generally get any more creative when they are denied opportunity to go to school – maybe just the opposite. Except of course if they are the children of or exposed to educated adults or others with large (and often uncommon) personal gifts and abilities.

He then commented: “I think we need to develop roles as change agents that speak WITH rather than AT our formal education systems – as well as developing and building alternatives.”  It could be disheartened to see many educators feeling alienated, and powerlessness, but then I think this is also a source of inspiration, when viewed in positive lights. No pain, no gain.

The eagle must fly high, in order to see the sky.

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Google

I think we have now gone to a stage where our formal education systems is opening up for public scrutiny, and so any one would not only speak WITH but AT the formal education systems.  That is reality.  It is good to be constructive,  and to suggest positive solutions to education, rather than “blaming and criticising” the system, and to me, that is what education discourse is all about.  However, it could also be interpreted otherwise, when the authority perceives such discourse as a threat to the formal education system, and a threat to academic knowledge (or the canonical knowledge) which has been built for decades.

What is a better way?

Photo: From Terry Anderson

Are these values of learning and knowledge creation and development reflected in the MOOC sharing, conversation and discourse?  I do think we are and have been listening to different voices – even the negative ones as perceived – relating to the production of workers, and soldiers. Have we forgotten that many of “us” have been educated under a regime where we were expected to be a responsible and loyal worker, and a compliant “soldier” to follow instructions and orders, especially in a hierarchical structure of organisation.  We are STILL operating in such modes of operations, within many institutions or business settings, and I doubt if that is a really distorted image of reality.  Rather, under a structure regiment, this is viewed as both legitimate and “democratic” setting in education in many developing and even developed countries.

There are merits in having a structured education (including the formal and informal education system), though there are also demerits in such an approach in this digital era of education.  Besides, the advances in technology and its use far outmoded most of the existing practices of educators and teachers, and that the technology used in the social media, such as mobile technology,  and various open softwares and learning management system has most likely lead ahead of most of the classroom practices.  Interactive board has only been introduced into the classrooms recently, in developed countries (like Australia).  How many teachers are actually feeling comfortable in its use?  Are these tools readily easy to use?  How far do teachers use these tools in classroom compare to other tools like Elluminate, FB, Twitters, Google (doc, Google +, Google Hangout), Wiki, and Blogs,  as used in social and learning networks or online education?   Teachers seem to be feeling more equipped and comfortable with the use of bits and pieces of social tools and media, including PLE/PLN than the Learning Management System and Interactive Boards in schools.  Why?  I think part of the reasons lies with Power and Control.  I would leave it to my readers of this post to ask further questions, and explain about this phenomenon.

So, yes, learning in social media, and networks could create feelings of “incompetence” (both amongst scholars, researchers, educators AND learners) too, when they are newly introduced into formal education and learning, with the feeling of alienation (especially when others in the networks or communities are judging “us”, or “we” are feeling neglected in our voices, when making suggestions to improvements or innovations) as facilitators, educators, administrators, scholars or learners.

Questions like: Should we weed out the concept of Nomads (or rhizomes)?  Should we criticise the education system? do spring up from time to time.  I don’t think any one could answer these questions with an absolutely “No”. Rather, our question would be WHY?/WHY NOT?

“Should we remove the weeds (with incorrect information, or biased sources of information, or those posting threats to human, like trolls, trojans, viruses)?” I would give it a resounding “Yes”.  So what is the solution?  I do reckon a combination of formal, informal, non-formal education and learning, offered and developed at various stages, for different people, at different times would be a feasible solution, in face of the uncertain future.

In this Future of Learning, personalisation, collaboration and informalisation becomes the focus of education and training, where learner centred, social learning and lifewide learning are considered as “new ways of learning”

Are these reflected in part of the MOOC, or shared in the concepts under-pinning Connectivism or Community of Practice (COP) or Landscape of Practice (LoP).

There seems to me that there is no more clear boundary between these conceptions (or metaphors) of learning, despite that each theory of education and learning (Social Constructivism, COPs and Connectivism) are based on different (and in fact overlapping, similar and dual) epistemology as shared here.

Whether we should focus on formal and or informal education is a priority for the institutions, as they need to develop strategic frameworks in order to accommodate and respond to the rapid changing technology and the quest for better and cost-effective education in order to survive and thrive.

How such changes in the education institutions would affect the overall education system is based on the assumption that what worked in the past (with face-to-face mass lectures) in particular, based on a standard one size suits all sort of curriculum, may not work that well in face of the rapid changes in society, in the existing financial situation.  What seems obvious would be to replace such mass lecture with more innovation in teaching. But how far would such education reforms go?  Would the adoption of more open, accommodating and structured online education system provide the solution?  What sort of challenges are there if the structure of institution is open and “flattened”?  What are some of the implications for the educators and researchers under those re-structuring? What sort of issues would arise relating to new pedagogy? See this post about education changes.

They’re being told to find new ways to provide a more individualised education, to change the shape of the school day, explore what technology can offer and even ask whether pupils need to be in school at all.

“The challenge we face is nothing less than transforming our schools from assembly-line factories into centres of innovation,” said the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who warns that the US school system is falling behind international rivals.

To these ends, MOOC could be a good experimental ground to explore all the above challenges, and wicked problems.

Back to our MOOC here:

First, I could see that this Change11 MOOC has been structured rather differently to the past.  Every week there is a guest speaker taking up the role of the facilitator.  And so it seems to me that there are responsibilities shared by the facilitators in the convening of the MOOC, not only the MOOC main facilitators – George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier.

Relating back to Jenny’s questions:

  1. What is the responsibility of the MOOC conveners to ‘newcomers’ or ‘MOOC novices’?
  2. How will the MOOC avoid ‘group think’, and in reality welcome and embrace the diversity of ideas that inevitably comes from a diverse network – which may (and hopefully will) include critical discussion of MOOCs. Isn’t this what a MOOC is supposed to be all about?
I don’t think the question of responsibility of the MOOC conveners is within the “scope” of the learners, rather it is the learner who SHOULD consider what is in the best interests of learning to reach out for LEARNING, using whatever approach that suits his/her needs, be it based on situated learning and Community of Practice, Social Constructivism, Connectivism (a connectivist approach), or Rhizomatic Learning approach.    To me, MOOC might be “self-organising itself” in a way that conveners and learners are co-convening itself, though the conveners still hold the “power” to post the resources on the course.  To this end, there is no reason why participants should or could not involve themselves in the creation of MOOC, and here inside or alongside MOOC.  Actually, that could be a healthy way to ensure that each individual in the MOOC would and could develop themselves in this setting.  There have already been various wikis and new MOOCs, and networks set up in response to those individual’s needs.
Even the clustering is based on whether one wants to or needs to do so, as this is dependent on the type of project that one is engaged in.  Is it a network, group or individual project?  What is the purpose of the project?  Who are involved in the project?  So, working on a project may be a wonderful way to learn through MOOC.  I have adopted an approach of working on research projects throughout the MOOC, though I still find it rather difficult to work on collaborative “group” project due to various reasons.  I also find the most satisfying project would be the creation and sharing of artifacts (blog post, video, digital stories, or a mindmap) that would resonate with myself and others.   
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4 thoughts on “#Change11 Is this rhizomatic learning? My view on MOOC

  1. Pingback: #Change11 Is this rhizomatic learning? My view on MOOC | Educación a Distancia (EaD) | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: #Change11 Is this rhizomatic learning? My view on MOOC | Connectivism and Networked Learning | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: #Change11 Is this rhizomatic learning? My view on MOOC | Innovación Universitaria | Scoop.it

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