Social Learning Theories

A well presented video on Social Learning Theories – Constructivism and Connectivism.

I have compared the similarities and differences of Constructivism and Connectivism here.

Here George discusses his views on Rhizomes and Networks, where he writes:

While rhizomes are diverse in shape and structure – growing, adapting, sprouting, replicating – they are not diverse in substance – i.e. rhizomes do not morph into new organic entities.

In his edtechweekly podcast, Cormier criticizes networks as being “duplicatable”. If someone has a successful network, she is tempted to say “this is how you create your own network”. Suddenly, the network becomes mechanistic. Cormier doesn’t like that. Neither do I. However, networks need not be designed in order to duplicate structure. Networks are organic – consider food webs, ecosystems, and the architecture of the brain. I don’t accept the argument that rhizomes are organic and that networks are not.

The central arguments about rhizomes and networks would be essential, as they could lead us to better understanding on how networks are situated.

I found networks could both be mechanically or artificially constructed and organically grown.

Ecosystems are often complex networks. “Ecosystems are made up of abiotic (non-living, environmental) and biotic components, and these basic components are important to nearly all types of ecosystems.”

The network structure of neurons connections in our brain is organic.

Image: Google.

Networks could be artificially constructed, like the networks and communities that are “built” and constructed, by each of the human agents, together with non-human agents which include the media, tools etc.  Networks could also be internally grown and developed, such as those in our human brain, or those inside our body, with blood streams, artery and veins, though these are likely under the control of the individuals.  The influence or changes due to the external networks on our brain network would account for the emotional responses, a change in the memory (of remembering facts, events and experience), or a change in the cognitive abilities in recognition of pattern, connections of concepts, thus re-wiring the connections and circuits.

What are the educational implications of social learning theories?

That will take another post for the exploration and reflection.

#Change11 Farewell to you all

This is my farewell post.

May I start with a story?

“What is your problem?” asked the Doctor Wise.

“I have headaches, some sneezing, and pains in the joints, don’t know why, I am just feeling tired.  Last night, I have fever.” said the Patient A.

“Let me examine you.” the doctor then examined A.  Checking the temperature, and the mouth, nose and chest of Patient A.

“You have the symptoms of a flu, here is the prescription, follow the instructions in taking this flu medicine (may be an anit-virus medicine).” Doctor Wise explained. “Go home and take more rests, drink plenty of water, and you will recover in a few days.”

“Do I need to take any antibiotics?” asked A.

“No, antibiotics don’t cure flu.” explained Doctor Wise.  “You need to allow time to restore your health, so taking the flu tablets and more rests will do.  If you are still not feeling well after a few days, come and see me.”

Does it look familiar to you?

Why would I choose this plot of seeing the doctor?  It’s the McGuffin!  May be, I think it describes fully what I have experienced when I have fallen sick and visited the doctor for help in the past.  It’s a story that I would like to share.

So, how do these relate to my taking of the MOOCs?

To a certain extent, the facilitators in the MOOCs are like the doctors, they know what experiences patients have, and the symptoms associated with various diseases, or the actual problems associated with the different diseases.  They would try their very best to explain to the patients what to do in response to those problems, or to perform surgery where needed.

But is this what MOOCs are all about?  No, that is just my share of what I have learnt through MOOCs, with the most important part of learning still yet to emerge.  I will share in future posts.

What most facilitators and educators would do (in MOOCs) is to provide advice, help and support, so as to enable the learners to learn more effectively and efficiently in courses, through the various interactions and engagement in different platforms, spaces or media.

However, how the learners would take that into their hands could be totally different.  I am not a “patient”, but a learner.  However, I could understand how difficult and challenging it could be when I sensed those challenges, symptoms of confusion, when immersed in a new or novel learning environment.

So, with the MOOC – Change11, I could also be the doctor of learning, where I  fully appreciate how learning could be the best dose for healing, in restoring health, and be happy.

I have come across these 35 weeks of intensive learning, with the facilitators providing their valuable perspectives and experiences, all FREE to all of us.  Special thanks to the host facilitators: George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier, and all guest facilitators of the MOOCs, and the many participants that I have met and connected in various ways (not in any order) with their blog posts:

Tai Arnold, Steve mac, Tony Bates, Brainysmurf, Catherine Cronin, Jaap Soft, George Hobson, Vanessa Vaile, Jupidu, AK, Jeff Lebow,  Alan Levine, Jenny Mackness, Ana Cristina Pratas,  Liz, Clark Quinn, Mark McGuire, Matthias Melcher, Heli Nurmi, Mary Rearick, Howard Rheingold, George Veletsianos, Nancy White, Bon Stewart, Valerie, and many others that I would like to list them all here.

Here I would like to borrow:

#Change11 On interaction and engagement in MOOC

This 35th week’s session of Change11 focuses on Interaction Model and Equivalency Theorem by Terry Anderson:

As background reading please read:

Here is part of the post by Serenaturri, which contained the transcript of the chat in Terry Anderson’s Blackboard Session.   Thanks to Serena.  Sorry that I couldn’t read Italian, so here is the English translation from Google Translate (blog’s automated translation).  I hope this is acceptable, as openness is encouraged, as the recorded session is also open to the public for viewing.

(Stephen Downes 20.08) – In MOOC PLE I learned an important lesson: – do not let my employer is responsible for the website – have stopped and blocked all access to anything related to PLE.

(Stephen Downes # 2 20:25) – the content is still a McGuffin – just serialized

(Jennymackness 20:26) – @ Stephen McGuffin c dares to say?

(SheenaW 20:31) – The power of the introverted Susan Cain

(1 DanBassill 20.40) – @ Mark – teaching students to access and utilize these resources is the new challenge

(Jennymackness 20.44) – Anyone can be a teacher?

(Mark McGuire 20.47) – Re: OERu: Phil Ker (Head of the University of Otago), said at a recent conference (DEANZ2012) that encourage students to study without the help of institutions is a key change must be taken into consideration.

(Stephen Downes 20.52 # 2) My opinion is that the new learning model will not arrive until you can get a doctorate from the recognition of learning rather than through some process of jumping through the hoop.

(LJP 20.53) – @ Stefano for me the new model will come when you will not need a diploma.

(Mark mcguire20.53) – PhD Explained:

(Jennifer Maddrell 20.54) – . .. what is the reason / purpose for getting a PhD? “Train” the researchers? We need PhD if you do not plan to do research?

(SheenaW 20.54) @ Jennie, the key is to foster the development of self-directed learning skills.

(Mark McGuire 20.55) @ Jennifer Maddrell: The purpose of a PhD is to separate those who are inside from those outside. And focus on the importance and the height of the wall.

(Tom Reeves20.56) – PHD comics Check out the following address

(Frank20.58) – The issue of quality is the degree of interaction MOOcs student – student – connections

(1 DanBassill 21.01) – Thanks to all. It ‘s nice to see the informal interaction between people who are legends in this field.

(Brainysmurf 21.01) – Big hugs virtual [...]

(Dlynds21.01) – im getting all teary eyed / my eyes full of tears (with emotion).

By examining the educational experiences online personal, carried out in different universities, I have the opportunity to validate the equivalence theorem of interaction proposed by Terry Anderson. The theory postulates that if any interaction (student – student, student – teacher or student – content) is high quality, the other two can be reduced or even eliminated without compromising the learning experience.

What is MacGuffin?

“The MacGuffin is common in films, especially thrillers. Usually the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and then declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out. It may come back into play at the climax of the story, but sometimes the MacGuffin is actually forgotten by the end of the story. Multiple MacGuffins are sometimes—somewhat derisively—referred to as plot coupons.[2][3]

In this McGuffin:

“The term was popularized by Alfred Hitchcock, who actually credited one of his screenwriters, Angus McPhail, with the creation of this concept and the name for it, citing a particular school-boy joke:

A man is riding on a train when a second gentleman gets on and sits down across from him. The first man notices the second is holding an oddly shaped package.
“What is that?” the first man asks.
“A MacGuffin, a tool used to hunt lions in the Scottish highlands.”
“But there are no lions in the Scottish highlands,” says the first man.
“Well then,” says the other, “That’s no MacGuffin”.”
What is the content then?  Content is merely the entree to a “dinner”, where people could start the conversation, and engage with it in order to explore what is behind it, like what Alfred has used.
What I found it useful in Terry’s session is that the Student and Student interaction together with Student and Content interaction are better than those with Student and Teacher interaction in terms of both achievement and attitude, as reported in Bernard’s research summary.
 Image: from George Hobson’s post and Terry’ slide
In MOOCs such as Change11, the posting of links, contents and even the slides, blog posts are part of the McGuffin, if one may argue.  Deep and meaningful learning would occur if there are deep reflection by the student, or students, or teachers, when the key points and learning experiences of these artifacts, posts, video recordings, etc. are picked and chosen for discourse, debates and critically examined in lights of individual experiences and perceptions.
This is similar to the model of learning as proposed by Rita Kop et al:
The critical point in those learner dialogue and interactions would be how learners could engage in the dialogue and conversation, between learners, educators and content, and how such learning would perpetuate throughout the learning journey, individually, or as a group or network.
I am yet to reflect on how such interaction would influence the way MOOC is designed, delivered and reviewed.
Jenny Mackness and her colleagues are starting this exciting journey of exploration with their unique model – fslt12, based likely on a COP approach.

#Change11 Gamification in Education

Is autonomy the name of the education game?
Here is a report on how gamification in education works.

Some experts call his approach an example of  “gamification”: use of game-like elements to increase student motivation or engagement.

“It is the use of game mechanics to make courses more engaging,” said Matt Kaplan, managing director at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan. “Students will have to think, ‘How do I learn in this class, or where should I spend my effort?’ And they have to do it very carefully,” he said. Since the course is self-regulated, students have to take responsibility in building the coursework. And they have to have explicit goals early on and then take steps to achieve those goals.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

I have created a number of posts on gamification in education here, here, here and here.
In a conversation with one of my best friends on MOOC, I wrote:
How many of the participants in MOOCs have ever thought about using Game Theory in facilitation, discourse and assessment (and grading)?  First, I am not sure if there are any education training programs having game theory as part of it. Second, the win – loss in games seem to be too dangerous in education, especially when it would become a behavioral approach towards learning, manipulating people in order to achieve the goals and outcomes.
Game Theory is used throughout business.  The recent edX, MITx, Udacity, Khan Academy, etc. all use Game Theory to a certain extent.  How? They all recruited lots of participants to join their “education revolution” and claimed glory because of that.  The Professors got their sponsorships, fame through promotion of their courses, their flipped classroom theory, their ground-breaking teaching etc.
So, why aren’t many others (in MOOCs) using such Game strategies to achieve similar Halls of Fames.  I am not saying that we should sacrifice education with commodification and monetization. What I think is, if one (or George, Stephen and others) wants to play the game of MOOC, then the application of Game Theory would help in understanding how we could achieve, using a hybrid of education/business model which is sustainable.
This similarly applies to Connectivism.  I think the principles behind Game Theory is also part of Connectivism, when applied in education and learning.
So, is Game Theory built on scientific grounds? Can Game Theory be used in online and distance education (as a business or personal learning)?
The closest to Game Theory that have been used in education is Learning Analytics, and in theory it is based on a scientific approach.  However, like Game Theory, there are still lots of ethical and privacy concerns.  Also, those sponsoring the project would try every means to influence the outcomes, so that only favorable ones would be published, and unfavorable ones would be dampened or never published.  That’s again a part of the Game – under Game Theory.
In summary, I reckon education and learning is a game, and now it’s a different game that we all need to adapt in order to play well.  Education Institutions could shape, respond, or adapt to the game as they play. This philosophy could equally be applicable to every educator and learner, as we are all part of the GAME, the Game of education and learning in this evolving and emergent world of education  and learning.


#Change11 Education Model

Interesting analogy, Ken. VHS is now superseded by DVD, and Cloud aggregation, curation, and distribution through the media and webs (internet videos, Youtube).

How is the current HE model going to compete with these giant galaxies of formal education and informal learning in the internet – all filled with Udacity, edX, MOOCs, Networks, COPs, webs (a web of blogs), social media (FB, twitter)?

HE needs to leverage on those “affordances” to “resurrect”, as we have already witnessed the resurgence of higher education using different strategies like “flipping the classroom, class, education, or even the system – gamification in education” by some of the universities and FE colleges. This requires both courage in taking risks and leadership in steering education in the “right direction” and vision. But it also creates winners and failures, especially when the experiments didn’t work.

The use of more charismatic leaders to boost the morale and improve quality of education in individual institutions has been well known strategies for decades, but would that alone solve the problems?

Disruption due to technology, alternative “smarter” and “intelligent & pragmatic” education and learning cannot be solved alone by even the greatest leaders in the world, IMHO.

This is now a “system” and ecology problem, where supply and demand in education have gone imbalanced, especially when more learners are looking for better education, at a lower cost, and better teachers, resources, and learning environment.

Such challenges in current education model (HE in particular) is like the climate change, where we are feeling the heat, and the overall impact on each of us. It is not about money only, it is about how people could re-think the best uses of the abundant (not limited) resources available on the internet and webs. It requires sourcing the information, curating and feeding them to the audiences just like the newspapers that have been used for decades. It is where OER could be aggregated, reused, re-purposed, re-distributed and re-created to yield new and emergent education models, that would be relevant, based on just-in-time learning principles (without wastes, ideally, at the right time, right space, right cost, and right quality) that provides “best or optimum” values to each education system, educational institution, stakeholder, educator, learner.

This requires a total re-conceptualization of the education paradigm and the associated system, where the sole reliance of teacher – student interaction may need to be shifted to a wholesome enriching the engagement, interaction and experience for educators and learners. Terry Anderson’s latest session on engagement model well illustrates those points, as posted by George Hobson.

Image: From George’s post and Terry’s slide

Does it ring a bell?