#Change11 #CCK12 Autonomy in Networked Learning and Connectivism

After reading Jenny and Carmen’s paper on Connectivism and Dimensions on Individual experience and now Heli’s post, I would like to reflect on what those three theories mean under Networked Learning and Connectivism, with a particular focus on the five factors and Autonomy.  Heli has wonderfully posted the juxtaposition of the three theories in her post.

Here Carmen and Jenny provides a wonderful framework upon which Connectivism could be expanded – to include the psychological elements, superimposed on autonomy, connectedness, diversity, and openness as the key components of connectivism conducive to (or required for) learning in networks  (Stephen Downes).

They discuss:

“While there have been calls for more or different efforts on the part of MOOC facilitators (Dron, 2011), the psychological insight brought by contemporary personality theory and self-determination theory suggests that the manipulation or envisioned refinement of MOOC environments and processes may be moot, or certainly less effective than it is typically assumed to be in the promotion of learning and curriculum design. Indeed, in their exploration of self-direction and personality in college students, Kirwan, Loundsbury, and Gibson (2010) conclude with a parallel consideration: “It may be that personality traits, not academic and personal experiences, are the major determinants of college student self-direction in learning.”

If the idea that learning experiences (and, by association, perhaps their facilitation) are less influential for learning than personality traits, there may be benefits to increased attention to the role of self-determination and personality.”

I reckon the basic structure of MOOC with the facilitation has now become the necessary condition for networked learning, whereas the sufficient condition would be determined by (a) the prior experience and intrinsic motivation of the MOOC participants, (b) the renewal of new or novel interests of MOOC, based on its application in different domains, and (c) how the participants personal experience as an individual would be valued as an important part of the network, creating a personal and shared identity and developing as a growth agent rather than a mere node sending and receiving information, in a vast network configuration.  Here the values of learning experience would be based on the cognitive gains and social relationship build-ups, from a weak tie to a gradually strong tie, in order to become an active participant.

When I reflected on the 5 big personality factors here relating to blogging:

Why would people blog?  Why would people (bloggers) switch to other social media like Facebook and Twitter?

Why blogs: Personality prediction of blogging provides an interesting account on personality factors and how these factors could be used as a prediction of the likelihood  of being a blogger.

I asked:

1. Is blogging and openness related? Are bloggers more open as compare to others who do not blog?  What happens when bloggers shift their choice of expression from blogging to other social media such as Facebook and Twitter? Will such people maintain their openness in those media?

2.  Are the 5 major personality factors able to predict people’s involvement, participation and interaction in social media like Blogging, Facebook and Twitter?

3. What are the critical factors in determining whether people would use social media and Web 2.0 (apart from the personality factors)?

Relating to self-determination theory, I have commented here in George’s post:

Why can’t learners be self-directed? Self-directed learners could rely on networks to learn, however, they must also need to make their own decisions on learning, based on critical thinking and reflection. In other words, self-directed learners could also be network directed learners. I would argue that both network directed learning and self-directed learning are equally important, in order to learn effectively. This also ensures a balance between networked learning and personal autonomy, so the learner could grow and develop, in a networked learning environment and global learning ecology. Based on Self-determination theory, autonomy, relatedness and competency will be important factors in motivation. Options and choice is important for individuals in networked learning. Professionals could learn and network effectively in networks and teams as they have already possessed the adequate literacy and skills needed, and are motivated to share because that is part of their profession. John

Relating to Learner Autonomy, I have reflected here and the importance of autonomy as a blogger.

I have conceived that autonomy is at the heart of learning in a networked learning environment, in order to have active engagement, participation and dialogue.

Comparing the factors between bloggers and forum poster based on the research  by Mak, Williams & Mackness (2010) here

Motivation factors:

Blogging:

1. Space to develop my own ideas

2. Ownership

3. Self expression

Forum posting:

1. Familiarity with forum

2. Faster pace

3. More lively debates

Here blogging strongly correlates well with the personality factors, and to a great extent relates to the autonomy under self-determination theory.  This tends to suggest a growth model of individuals based on personal goals and learning pathway centred around the learners, for the learner, by  the learner, under a connectivist learning ecology.

The recent MOOCs have all tended towards the development of blogging and Twittering as a way to connect with others, rather than the use of forum postings (on Daily or FB), suggesting that the facilitation elements could only be “scaled” if participants are clustered around a central forum (like the Blackboard synchronous Elluminate session).  There are also clusters of networkers with interests interacting using different platforms over distributed spaces.  However, it seems that forum posting and sharing have never again been grounded as that in CCK08, probably due to the lack of novelty elements to reboot the debates and discourses- such as new and innovative ground breaking topics of interests geared to the mass participants’ interests.  This further led to relatively small groups of participants having some active conversation and engagement, and a high proportion of participants either lurking or loosely participating in the recent MOOCs.  Other factors included the introduction of other MOOCs like the DS106, eduMOOC, LAK12, Stanford AI and Machine Learning, and various MOOC initiatives, which might have attracted the veterans to attend, thus further de-centralising, diluting and fragmenting the conversation.

What might be the future MOOC like?  How would Connectivism’s growth model emerge?  Have you got the crystal ball?

Picture: George’s post

Slide: from suifaijohnmak

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37 thoughts on “#Change11 #CCK12 Autonomy in Networked Learning and Connectivism

  1. Pingback: #Change11 Autonomy in Networked Learning and Connectivism « juandon. Innovación y conocimiento

  2. Pingback: #Change11 Autonomy in Networked Learning and Connectivism « juandon. Innovación y conocimiento

  3. >..suggesting that the facilitation elements could only be “scaled” if participants are clustered around a central forum (like the Blackboard synchronous Elluminate session)

    Could you elaborate on the above statement? I don’t understand what you mean.

  4. What I mean here is that facilitation could be challenging if participants are dispersed over distributed spaces or platforms. In the past, when there were Moodle forum, then people might intend to visit and post there. However, the facilitators would hardly be able to follow or respond to huge number of postings if that is the case. Scaling in this case refer to the proportion of a facilitator to participants when facilitating a session or forum. So, in a synchronous session, you could have a few facilitators all interacting with a central pool of participants in a single place, but then this is difficult in other media like Blogs, where I don’t think the facilitators could afford to visit each of them and interact. I could see facilitators have tried different strategies in different MOOCs to ensure the scaling up is feasible.

  5. Within a MOOC, who would be the facilitator(s)? Under the notion of self-directed and regulated learning, it could be peer facilitation. However, would there be some forms of scaffolding before such peer facilitation could come to fruition? I wonder if George, Stephen and Dave would like to share their views and wisdom on this important point. Or would you like to elaborate on the tension? How could such tension be resolved or “tamed”?

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  11. Hi John
    I agree with the content of your blog post here. There are MOOCs and we can use them, participate and learn.
    But my intention to psychology wants to go deeper and therefore I studied carefully the Jenny-Carmen article. I am interested, for example, why some people leave the courses (most, actually) and what is the learning acquired. Quality of discussion, different cultures: you are so friendly and polite that i don’t know what you mean by saying every comment as wonderful. My post was not wonderful, it was boring and clumsy :) this is how Finnish people talk :)
    Let’s continue anyway

  12. Hi Heli,
    Thanks for your comments. My comments on your post as wonderful, mainly I was so impressed with your insights relating to how self determination theory, the big 5 personality and connectivism are juxtaposed, with a nice diagram. You have further expanded the common elements like autonomy and openness with interesting examples and anecdotes. To me, your post is interesting, and never clumsy :). I hope I understand how Finnish people talk, and this is already part of my learning with you. I am glad that Jenny, Carmen, and you are so interested in the psychological aspects. I do have a great interest in this area too, and I studied educational and industrial psychology in the “good” old days. Self-determination theory has been around for more than a decade, and it was well established. I also noted it was founded on a number of other theories. To what extent would some other elements applicable to MOOC and Connectivism, such as competence and relevance?

    Why some people leave the courses of MOOC? That is a question that requires a complex answer. First, I think there are lots of emotional attachments when people are learning on networks, with some of the critical factors that would impact their “stay or go” yet to be explored. Based on my observation, many people would have difficulties in using technology in their formal learning, partly because of the lack of access, and mostly due to a lack of skills, especially when first exposed to the online environment. No one wants to look stupid, and so many people would be afraid to even post their writings publicly. This is a common issue, when learning online. So, the first challenge to overcome is: how to overcome the fear of being perceived as being “incompetent” in posting or communicating. The second challenge could be a lack of motivation, due to the lack of connections, engagement and feedback when learning online. The third challenge could be a feeling of chaos when exposed to a vast array of networks, and could easily be overwhelmed with the abundant information. The fourth challenge could be the identity issue. Most people would find it hard to identify themselves in an open network, where their voices would hardly be heard, and so they might soon retract and retreat to their own real life community, in order to re-define their identity. Finally, the challenge due to a perceived threat on personal security, privacy and over-powering by the powerful others could easily diminish one’s desire to connect and network. Who knows who are on the other side of the network? I still think many people may be more comfortable with the instructional approach face – to – face, and have more trust on the “authority figures – like professors” rather than someone who are raising their opinions or posting their beliefs with personal stories. I will have to re-visit some of the research findings to dig deeper into this critical issue.

    How to say thank you in the most polite way in Finnish? I hope I haven’t learnt too much the rude way!
    John

  13. Pingback: #Change11 #CCK11 Why do people leave online or networked learning? | Learner Weblog

  14. You are wonderful: I could sit all the day and read your writings. You are so quick. How in the world you do it – have asked earlier I remember. And you are busy at work too? Amazing..
    I need time for thinking :)

  15. Hi Heli,
    Thanks for your kind words, oh yes the Finnish way :) of expressing gratitude towards our best friend.
    I enjoyed reading yours too.
    I am not sure if I am that quick. I just say what I have in mind, with reflection, and share them with you, like in a conversation. So to me, that is a natural part of my thinking and learning. I prefer using a conversational style, even in blogging. Hope that makes our conversation more interesting :)

    I am very busy at work too, but I always tried to leave some time for writing, everyday. Writing keeps my brain fresh with ideas, and I believe that would help me in connecting to others like you too.
    John

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  17. I am very interested in the “tension” identified in this discussion between the ideal of autonomy and the course structure with designated facilitators.
    Is a “course” really the best way to promote networked learning?
    Perhaps the “scaling” problem is a bit artificial as it presupposes that everyone has the same need to be met from the same source at the same time.

    A more scalable approach might be to encourage the formation of smaller topic-specific seminar groups and/or to have more use of Q&A systems like Quora or StackOverflow (maybe with some kind of topic-specific reputation management system so people could find whatever expert they need exactly when they need her).

  18. I agree with you, in that when people are having similar or shared goals and needs in a course then, it is more likely the course could be a way to achieve those goals. Smaller topic-specific groups & Q&A surely would add value to the learning, as that could artificially streamline the people of specific interests, and in aggregating the conversation in specific learning spaces. How would a reputation management system be based? Would it be based on “expert advice” or collective wisdom or advice? How about the semantic web concept?

  19. For reputation management I was thinking (as a starting point) of rating systems like those at Amazon or Quora (and “under the hood” in Google where links play the role of stars) but with some way of discounting the “first up” advantage and with a weighting scheme which promotes reviewers who have agreed with me (or whoever is the current user) in cases where we have both been judging the same material. But as I said in the other thread, I really have not got anything more than a very superficial view of how this might actually work. (Oh and I’d want a distributed implementation so that it wouldn’t rely on some proprietary service which held all the data.)

  20. Pingback: Autonomy in Networked Learning and Connectivism | Learning Trends | Scoop.it

  21. Reblogged this on connectivité and commented:
    Some really interesting discussion happening in this post! Literacy barriers aside, it seems to me that some extra support—such as goal-setting activities—could help less self-directed learners to find their feet when learning in this way.

  22. Hi Alison,
    Yes, goal-setting activities would help less self-directed learners. In a professional mentoring program, the mentee would need to develop career or business goals and values, followed by a Personal Action Plan. This could be shared with the mentor to discuss about one’s goals and the various options and career/learning pathways. The mentee also needs to conduct a SWOT (strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis if it relates to business, or personal strengths, weaknesses, barriers or challenges if it relates to personal development. This would then be followed by the listing of existing personal characteristics – skills, knowledge, experiences, and personal attributes. Finally the mentee would need to come up with a strategic action plan (with time and resources deployed for each action). An evaluation and review of the actions would then be carried out in the coming mentoring meetings to monitor learning progress. The mentee would also make use of a self-assessment checklist to review his/her progress in learning, with the feedback from peers and mentors as a sounding board.
    I have been involved in such mentoring program as a mentor, and I also developed my own plan too in the process.
    What do you think about e-mentoring in HE?
    Thanks for your visit and comments.
    John

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