Application of Game Theory in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs

This Lifelong education on Steroids provides an excellent and insightful overview about MOOCs.  What I would add is that MOOCs could be one the game changers in Higher Education, not just online education.  Why?  Higher Education has been a game in business, where each of the game players are playing a fair, though competitive game in a global arena for decades.  

The strategic alliance and partnership is one of the macro approaches in game playing where institutions are working with various other education providers or services in order to enhance the overall education and learning experiences of the learners, or consumers and customers.

How would Game Theory help in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs?

There are two main approaches that we could consider – a macro and a micro approach.

Macro approach:

First, to design MOOCs based on Game Theory, on a macro scale. What this involves is to compare and contrast the various design of x and c MOOCs, based on a set of principles where networked learning and mastery learning is leveraged, especially when an institutional education model is based.  This could be demonstrated and applied by taking into consideration the payoff and expected return with each probability (i.e. un-bundling of each of the present services of typical MOOCs services as described here) and re-bundling them with values and benefits for each cohort of learners and educators.

Second, to deliver MOOCs based on Game Theory principles which include those elaborated in this Understanding the MOOC Trend.

Third, to assess MOOCs based on a combination of automation and human intervention, where learning analytics and big data are used to provide feedback to both educators and learners on a continuous basis.  This paper on assessment on MOOCs provides an insightful approach to incorporate

Micro approach

This involves strategically designing MOOCs based more on the games with various multimedia and interactive game story, where assessment and learning are built in to engage both professors and learners to co-explore and learn through the education process.  Games could also be used for assessing learners in a personal and adaptive way, though this would involve a total different design from the instructivist approach.  This includes peer-teaching and learning as proposed by Eric Mazur and other educators.  Indeed peer teaching and learning is one of the pedagogy adopted in a connectivist approaches towards learning.

It should be noted that the majority of peer-tutoring programs for students are intended to complement, not substitute for, regular classroom instruction. Tutoring should never be a substitute for professional teaching. An ideal learning atmosphere is as a rich blend of peer and adult instructional strategies.

Cited From: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/peer-teaching/#ixzz2cTBZTEiL

In summary, game theory could be used in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs, with an overall improvement in the learning and education experiences of learners.

Measurement of effectiveness of cMOOCs

Here is my response to Christina’s post on difficulties researching cmoocs.

How to measure the effectiveness of a cMOOC?

There are 4 semantic conditions of networks that Stephen Downes has proposed. As Stephen has commented, those properties – openness, diversity, autonomy and connectedness & interactivity is not perfect in cMOOCs. Besides Connectivism as applied in cMOOCs could likely best be based on an informal learning, rather than a traditional institutional model.

I have reiterated that the constraints typically imposed with an institutional model would be huge challenge for administrators and educators to adapt, as is witnessed even in xMOOCs, where a totally new approach (such as flipping the class or flipped learning) as perceived by professors would be at odds with the mass lecture approach typical in mass-education, with a broadcasting model. How to overcome those challenges, and ensure learning is more effective, when cMOOCs are embedded in an institutional model?

Here is my response  that I perceive as a way to measure the effectiveness of cMOOCs – in its

1. awareness of Networked Learning and Connectivism as an “informal learning paradigm”,

2. an adoption and leveraging of the 4 properties- openness, diversity, autonomy and connectedness & interactivity when networking,

3. an achievement of personal goals with immersion in the network and community (and community of practice) on personal basis,

4. adoption of Personal Learning Environment and Network PLE/PLN in pursuit of life-long learning, and

5. a shift of frame of reference and paradigm from knowledge transmission to knowledge sharing and creation model under a knowledge ecology.

John Mak

Another post on MOOCs

Interesting to read another post on MOOCs.

Great, having short video lectures, quizzes, meet-ups, assignment, tests and examinations.

What would you add or change when it comes to truly innovative education?

If you were the professors of the course, what changes would you like to make in these structure?

I have been thinking many other ways of reaching the interested audience and students, NOT by video, NOT by quizzes, NOT by tests.  By what? If you were the expert with MOOCs that work, please tell us and share!

Think about how your students are most attracted or interested in networks, in communities and in classes.  Ask why they are excited, interested.  Think about yourself as a student.  How and what would you be interested, and why?

As shared in many posts and experts, don’t tell, tell, tell, but ask, ask, ask, as students nowadays are attracted to the course, not because of the course content only, but because of the values and skills that they could get out of their experiences.

Postscript: This post provides some useful ideas.

Learning from Social Media

To what extent could social media be used for formal education?

As shared in my posts here and here:

For autonomous educators and learners who are learning via the broader networks, with webs and internet, it seems that blogging would likely serve their needs better in “broadcasting” and reflection of their learning or teaching.

Forum and network platforms such as Moodle, FB, wiki would then be “gateways” for open sharing and discussion of ideas.

Twitter would be ideal of information links and dissemination of news and sharing of links to blog posts or event updates, and real time postings of presentation or conference.

How far would institutions be ready for the decentralized approach (i.e. Connectivist learning) be adopted in online education and MOOC?

“The adoption of MOOCs in formal education institutions is challenging, though it opens up new opportunities to experience the co-creation of networks within communities and new and participatory forms of communication and collaboration for both learners and educators.”

Kop, R., Fournier, H., Mak, S.F. J. (2011). A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online CoursesThe International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Vol 12, No. 7 (2011).

What would be critical in the introduction of social media in formal education?  Social media should be introduced with a vision and purpose in mind, especially under a formal institution infrastructure.  What sort of pedagogy would be aligning with the design and use of social media when fused into formal education?

Purpose and Quality of MOOCs

Thanks to Grainne Conole for the post on MOOCs and a New Classification of MOOCs, where she has critiqued thoroughly on quality assurance of MOOCs from a course and instructional design perspective, suggesting an alternative pedagogical framework on both c and xMOOCs.

In this post, I would explore the purpose and quality of MOOCs, relating to some of the quality aspects as discussed by Grainne.

What is the purpose of creating MOOCs?

In this corner: MOOC enthusiasts, envisioning how these large, online courses will increase access to higher education, reduce costs, and reinvigorate teaching and learning.  In the other corner: MOOC critics, anticipating how MOOCs will eliminate meaningful interaction between faculty and students, reduce the quality of learning, and decimate the professorship. http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/stratedgy/both-sides#ixzz2UAdhXKe2

If the purpose of introducing MOOCs is to increase access to higher education, reduce costs and reinvigorate teaching and learning, how would such purpose relate to the mission and vision of Higher Education Institutions?

The mission and vision of institution could be viewed as I shared:

The 3 Ms of MOOCs are Mission, MOOCs and Money.

The fundamental questions boards should be asking include:

  • Why are we online? Is the movement to or expansion of online education consistent with the institutional mission? Does and will it serve and advance the institutional mission? Or is the key issue in the discussion about online education—including any conversations about MOOCs—money?
  • How do we assess quality—that of our own online offerings and those of others, including the MOOCs?
  • What will it take to achieve our objectives in terms of online learning—including human and financial capital, content expertise, the political will to change, and many other concerns?

How is quality defined in MOOCs?

Quality in online education, in particular MOOCs might be defined differently from those quality in classroom education, with a face-to-face teaching environment. What is quality of MOOC from the perspective of educators, learners, and employers?

Quality is defined as conformance to requirements (Philip B. Crosby) (slide on Cost of Quality as Driver of Quality Improvement).  Have the cost of conformance and non-conformance been examined and analysed in MOOCs?  What are the “true cost” of MOOCs in the quality equation?

The questions relating to quality in a MOOC are:

1. Whose requirements are most important to be met?  If MOOCs are for the learners, then the conformance to requirements would likely be decided by the learners.  This is quite challenging, in case of institutions, where quality is defined in terms of the institutional requirements.  From a historical perspective, there are always differing requirements from institutions, employers, educators and learners, and so what is best in quality is seldom agreed upon, especially under an open education and learning environment.

2. How is quality determined in MOOCs? What may be viewed as quality may need to be re-examined in light of changing circumstances, as those requirements, purpose (if quality is defined also as fitness of purpose) are changing rapidly in a complex educational landscape.

As mentioned above, the definition of quality is conformance to requirements, under P. Crosby. The concept of Quality Assurance (QA) is to assure quality through quality prevention, with the goal of zero defects in the system (P. Crosby’s quality concepts).  Quality assurance (QA) has been a subject based heavily on quality policy, quality system and procedures, and instructions in formal education institution. The cost of quality relates to the cost of non-conformance (and conformance) in a quality system.  Whilst all these principles of quality are based on an industrial and business model, they had been transferred to education when institutions started to adopt a strategic management approach towards business education, where quality and values become the business driver and hallmark towards excellence in Higher Education.

The quality audit is part of the QA procedure designed to provide an opportunity to enhance the quality of the system through self, second and third party audits and reviews.  However, such quality audits are normally applicable to formal institution education system, and are seldom used for informal learning or non-formal networks, due to the complexity of open social media and the associated technology used.

QA as applied to MOOCs would then relate to the quality design, delivery and audit based on an institutional model education.  Is QA good enough to ensure and assure quality in education and learning?

Starting in late 1980s, there had been a movement from Quality Assurance towards Total Quality Management in education and Higher Education institutions.

The adoption of Total Quality Management (TQM) has been widely used in industry in the late 70s to 90s in industry, and was considered by Higher Education Institutions back in the 1980s to 2000s.  TQM has since been considered and adopted in some of the Higher Education Institutions as both a philosophy and strategic framework to support the overall vision and mission of the institutions, in the deployment of education policies and procedures, and the involvement of everyone (including administrators, professors, instructional designers, support staff, and even customers (students)) in creating and building quality in the system, thus adding value to the customers and stakeholders.

The challenge with TQM in Higher Education however is apparent (especially with MOOCs) when quality is always defined differently by different customers (both internal and external customers), and the standards or requirements that are stipulated by the education provider and authority.  Such quality becomes nuanced and complicated, when customers’ needs and expectations are changing in a complex education and learning environment such as MOOCs.  Indeed, the original quality definition of: Fitness for purpose could be challenging to both the education providers, stakeholders (Venture Capitalists), education authority, educators (professors, course designers), and learners, as the purpose of designing or delivery of the course could be defined and perceived differently for each of the MOOCs (including c and xMOOCs).

Quality is defined quite differently when it is viewed under the network model, with openness, autonomy, diversity and interactivity being the hallmarks of sustainable networked learning based MOOCs.  Recent researches have highlighted the tensions that are inherent when social networks are fused into a formal education system, as the concept of quality would be dependent on the degree of openness and autonomy one would perceive.

In business settings, quality could be achieved through quality planning, control and improvement.  In the MOOCs, quality is achieved through the design planning, course delivery and continuous improvement.

Summary

If we are to apply such business model in Higher Education, the purpose behind the introduction of MOOCs would then be to add value to the education, in particular the learning for the students, community, in order to maximize the social capital, while driving down the total costs of education.  This is a bold, ambitious, risky and ground breaking “innovation” and transformation that no education authority in the history of mankind had tried in breaking through.

We are still yet to agree on what quality is, when it comes to MOOCs (x and c MOOCs), as quality could be defined differently under a formal institutional framework (xMOOC) as compared to an open networked education framework (cMOOC), and that different stakeholders (education authority, administrators, professors, educators, learners, and parents etc.) could also perceive quality based on their learning and experience.

Recommendation for future research

Further research is required to explore how quality, quality assurance and total quality management is achieved when social networks and the technology mediation is fused into formal education system with MOOCs and the sort of pedagogy that would foster the learning in a wide spectrum of MOOCs (i.e. ranging from c and x MOOCs).

Postscript: See this book chapter by Grainne Conole.

How would MOOCs be designed and structured differently?

Thanks to Doug Holton for opinion The case for learning designers.

What should be the role of instructors in learning design in MOOCs?  How should MOOCs be designed and delivered?

My early learning experience with CCK08 and subsequent learning experiences with CCKs and Change11 was that over-design of a course would not be able to cater for the needs of massive number of participants.  Successful MOOCs (cMOOCs) need to factor emergence (emergent knowledge and learning) in the design and delivery of the “course” and “event”.  It is based on a continuous feedback loop with distributed learning networks, just in time learning- with participants’ active contribution of content, and co-design of the conversation and engagement of instructors, facilitators and clusters of self-organised participants.

Image on Comment Ecosystem: From CCKs course postings.

Open-Online-Courses-as-New-Educative-Practice

Most xMOOCs are not built with that in mind, and so those courses are highly structured, often planned in a linear fashion, and thus only afford the prescriptive knowledge to be consumed by the participants, governed by the video lectures, some quizzes, and posted readings.

I reckon learning designers have often pre-conceived with a one size “suits” all sort of tool box online learning with learning object, that may be highly suitable for closed LMS with specific learning outcomes sort of courses.  Would such a design meet the needs of huge cohorts of learners?  I reckon a certain level of customization is needed as participants are coming from a diverse background.

Despite the large number of successful completion (though a relatively 5 – 15% completion rate) in the xMOOCs, I still think the original course design and pedagogy would impact on the course delivery and completion.

Would this explain why more than 80% participants are not completing the course, as they don’t see much need for their contribution or engagement in the course?  Even if they want to do so, there is simply no means for them to be involved except by joining the study group or posting on the discussion boards, where their voices would seldom be heard as these postings would only attract attention if they are voted up (for attention to be given).  Besides, as revealed in the various studies about xMOOCs, many of the participants (could be as much as 40-50%) are degree holders.  This may imply that many of the participants would be following their own set learning goals, learning pathway, and methodologies in their learning, rather than the “linear” progressive Mastery Learning.

Indeed, I have tried watching some of the videos of the xMOOCs and have often skipped the various portions of the videos where I don’t find relevance to my needs or learning.  I would also be browsing through, pausing, or rewinding certain parts of the video when I am just interested in certain part of the section for my learning.  This is similar to the learning via Youtube educational videos, or the TED talks.   Wouldn’t it be true that many participants of xMOOCs would likely do the same, in order to optimize and customize their own education and learning in a MOOC?

Would some of these participants be designing their own learning pathway (i.e. within MOOC) sub-consciously throughout their MOOC engagement?

It is interesting to note that the DS106 and the EDUMOOCs (an xMOOC) are structured as Connectivist and Cognitivist/Connectivist courses (as perceived by this participant), and analysed here.  As I have shared in the past posts, it appears more xMOOCs would be designed with some of the social constructivist and connectivist principles, even though they are conceptually designed with a linear learning pathway with structured content.

Why?  Massive participants have a diverse experience, skills level and background, and thus they would seldom participate with the same entry or exit points, except for the assessment or examination.

Isn’t it time for the MOOC providers to review the learning design so as to ensure the course is built on a flexible emergent design, rather than a rigid, one size suits all online course principle?   Otherwise, there would be a “constant” drop-out or low completion rate, as participants don’t feel their involvement or engagement in the learning community and course design, especially in the xMOOCs.  There are also power and autonomy factors, which would continue to influence the way participants would engage or not engage in the course, especially when participants don’t find any power or autonomy over their learning over the course.

Is Connectivism a New Learning Theory – Part 2

Here is my response to George and others’ comments to my previous post of Is Connectivism a New Learning Theory?

Hi George, Agreed that the theory has to work at an individual level, and it would have to explain and predict how your learning could or do occur. My questions to you include: How do you learn? How has learning occurred to you?

Do you learn through building and or navigation of networks (aggregation, curation of information sources), personal level (neuronal-level connections, thinking and reflection of personal experience (what sort of changes in behavior?), and way of thinking with conceptual connections of various concepts based on those experiences (sense-making)?

In this way Connectivism is based on a thesis that learning is a networking phenomenon and that knowledge is where one could sense and recognise the pattern emerging out of the building and navigation of the networks. Learning is then a dynamic process, with certain adaptive properties associated with the networks, which could happen under a Complex Adaptive System and Knowledge Ecology (Chatti, 2012) (such as a MOOC). This means that when information changes, a person would need to examine the knowledge pattern resulting from those changes. The MOOC movement and the implications are good example illustrating such knowledge pattern. No one single expert (of MOOCs) so far has fully been able to definitely explain the knowledge and learning that are embedded in MOOCs for both the networks and individuals.

However, when individual professors and all associated learners are co-evolving and co-learning with the learners, each would sense the learning emerging out of the interactions or engagement, with some perceiving knowledge and learning with different degrees of meaning – based on sense-making.

Professors and learners (some, if not all) would each define their way-finding (goal setting, learning how to explore their own pathways) resulting from those exploration, connections, engagement or interaction. These sort of learning also result in various interpretations of what constitutes self-determined learning, self-organising learning (both individually and networks and groups) and emergent knowledge and learning, apart from prescriptive knowledge and learning.

There are people who may learn and interact differently from those as defined under the “formalised” and theorised learning approaches, based on legitimate peripheral learning (as peripheral learners) or other reasons (<a href=”http://www.col.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/MOOCsPromisePeril_Anderson.pdf&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>Anderson, 2013</a>).

Such patterns of both individual and social learning are appearing in various forms throughout the cMOOCs in repeated ways, and also re-emerging in xMOOCs despite the “assertion” that the pedagogy is based on Mastery Learning. Indeed, you could associate the learning associated with Connectivism to be an integration of the previous learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and situated learning (and COPs) all based on connections and interactivity (Connectivism).

May I relate to my previous post:”How would a connectivist approach work? Yes, you still require the deconstruction of the student’s existing thinking, but not just based on the teacher’s input. Rather, you would suggest the students to be immersed in networks, based on navigating activities and the using of appropriate tools or media (i.e. media and technology affordance), in exploring about the “right” and “wrong” concepts, and discerning those right from wrong through navigation tools and reflective thinking. This is similar to what I have suggested here:

The concepts that are crystallised through such networked learning may be based on the ability of the learner to recognise and interpret the pattern (i.e. principally on the navigation and exploration, with or without the teachers), rather than the demonstration of the teacher and explanation of the concepts via “Constructivism or Social Constructivism”. This means that the concept development under Connectivism is far more reaching than the typical “classroom” or social networks environment, but would also include technological and media enhancement for its nourishment.”

There are lots of factors which could impact or influence a person’s learning under such a knowledge ecology (MOOCs), including the authority and power exerted through formal authority, professors, peers etc. and the emotional and affective dimensions (likes/dislikes of certain aspects) emerging from the interaction with course, professors, experts, networks, peers, preference of learning based on individual learning styles, autonomy and self-determination or organisation of individuals, and most importantly personal educational and learning experience which would ultimately impact on one’s perception and appreciation or adoption of those properties of networks – openness, diversity, autonomy, and connectivity or interactivity.

Thanks again for your valuable comments and insights.

References:
Anderson, T. (2013). Promise and/or Peril: MOOCs and Open and Distance Education (accessed 3/5/2013)

Chatti, M. (2012). The LaaN Theory