Should we manage or lead in a MOOC?
If the content of the course is important, then management of a course based on design, development, implementation and control is important. One could then manage the course – with the usual plan-do-check-act as a design and implement cycle.
If the content of the course is based on the connection of the agents and entities (i.e. networked learning), whereas the agents interacting among the networks would play an important role in shaping, charting and developing the course and its content, then leading the course is more important than the mere managing of the course, by the agents. Besides the management and leading of the course seems to require a “contingent” and situational approach, where I have described in my previous post here and here, using emergent learning and leadership practice.
Could we use project-based learning in MOOC?
Here in project based learning, learners are clustered into networks, groups or teams to work and learn through different projects, using different tools, and sharing their ideas, information and knowledge in a variety of ways.
It is more about further exploration, experimentation and research into topic areas which the learners develop an interest in, rather than what are prescribed in the content of the course.
So, when dealing with content areas which do have “known facts and information”, management of information and data seems to be important. The people (teacher and learners) would however need leadership, rather than the traditional management in order to learn in a different way. In the case of the project-based learning, there are always different ways of learning, fitting into a variety of contexts and thus achieving a number of goals simultaneously. So critical thinking skills, collaboration and cooperation skills, and various digital literacies with digital story writing, creative design skills, etc. could all be developed in the learning projects.
The DS106 and MobileMOOC have adopted such approaches in steering the learners into learning using their own projects.
What are the assumptions behind project-based learning?
There are a few assumptions in this project-based learning approach:
1. All learners within the team share similar or same goals. These goals are negotiated in order to achieve agreement. These project goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time based.
2. Each learner is motivated to work on the project team(s). They would make an effort into working on the projects, based on their skills and experience.
3. Such project is within the capability of the learners, and the learners possess the skills and literacies required, or that they could develop them throughout the project.
4. The time, costs and specification of the project could be determined in advance. Such constraints are factored into the project.
5. The learners are aware of the privacy, security and risks issue when learning in open learning environment, and would adopt appropriate measures or actions to prevent, reduce the risks involved.
6. The learners would focus on the project within the time frame of the project, in terms of individual and group attention. The team members would self-organize and appropriate tasks based on the individual’s needs and teams’ needs. Autonomy among learners are also appropriated, valued in the team or group.
7. The instructor plays a facilitative role in the project, and would likely intervene when the project falls out of line, or goes into the wrong track.
There is also a fundamental assumption with project-based approach in that it could address complex and complicated situation, and so the solution could be “predicated” to some extent, if the same agents are interacting in small teams throughout the projects.
The reality when working with open networks and platform:
1. The abundance of information and ubiquity of networks could be overwhelming for the learners. This also requires a sense of focus and perseverance, and resilience, when learners encounter failures in their projects.
2. The elearning approach adopted could be context driven, as described here by Grainne Conole.
3. The pedagogy would be based on a variety of pedagogy instead of a single learning approach, due to the complexity of the project, and the individual’s learning needs (i.e. the PLE development).
I think such an approach would likely falls under the metaphor that I described here.
When learners are immersed in a vast network like MOOC, the learning that occurs may be more closely described by Matthias here.
Grainne Conole summarises the design and evaluation of MOOC here:
The ‘course organisers’ state that learners can participate with the course in a range of ways and that there is no standard learning pathway through. Therefore they can contribute to discussion forums or wikis, post comments on social networks, publish blog posts and comment on the blog posts of others. The organisers argue that this is a truly emancipatory style of learning, enabling each individual to create their own Personal Learning Environment. There is no single route through a MOOC, they are horizontal, distributed and evolving by nature, offering a mechanism for supporting Rhizomatic Learning (Cormier, 2008; Cormier, 2011). The scale of the course means that participants can communicate with learners on a global scale. The design of MOOCs is learner centred, with no central teaching role.
Evaluation of participants’ experience of these courses is mixed. Whilst many value the concept and joined partly out of curiosity to see what interaction in such an open and connected learning network would be like, many quickly became disillusioned, finding it difficult to keep up. The sheer scale of MOOCs (which arguably have no beginning and no end) was bewildering for many, and it was all too easy to get lost or confused by the plethora of resources and communication channels.
Courses could be based on what George has summarised here, with known knowledge, and transmission of knowledge from instructors to learners (i.e. Stanford AI MOOCs, Khan academy) and a blended version (Flipping classroom) to epistemology (knowledge development) and ontology (learning as growth and development) based on connections and connectivity (MOOCs - CCKs, Change11, Plenk2010).
The MOOCs that are described here fall essentially into 5 categories:
From Knowledge acquisition
- an instructivist approach – Stanford – AI, Machine Learning; Udacity, Khan Academy
- cognitivist approach – EduMOOC
to Knowledge growth and development (pattern recognition), learning as participation and connections, and reflection
- constructivist approach – DS106?, MobileMOOC
- social constructivist approach (with rhizomatic learning) – MOOCs
- connectivist approach – CCKs, PLENK2010, Change11, eduMOOC, MobileMOOC
Here I have summarised the digital pedagogy to netagogy.