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?

Is teaching an art or a science?

Professor Daniel Willingham suggests that:

Education is about changing the world, while science is about describing the world.  Daniel concludes that teaching is neither an art nor a science, but mid way between them, as it is about creating something, based on the boundary conditions.  He also uses the house construction metaphor for scaffolding of learning.

Is teaching an art? I reckon yes, as teaching cannot be practised without consideration of the context and people (teacher and learners) involved.  As every one of us is different, what works for one person in teaching and learning may not work for others.  The concept of scaffolding of learning is an art:

Scaffolding is the process by which teachers use particular conceptual, material and linguistic tools and technologies to support student learning. Scaffolding can be used at any point of interaction between teachers and students – at the point of providing inputs and explanations, through to modelling, interacting and assessing.

Is teaching a science? May be teaching could be based on certain scientific principles (mainly psychological principles and behavioral science), but again, these principles are all based on assumptions that education on human’s learning could be objectively assessed, and teaching being assessed in association with learning performance.

To what extent would teaching be based on scientific principles?

Here are some suggested Principles of teaching and Principles of learning from Carnegie Mellon University.  In reflection, most of the principles relating to teaching are based on experience and research, and are context and situations driven.  I reckon some of the adult teaching principles are based on science, with psychology as the basis, whilst others are based on art, especially when it comes to teaching using scaffolding of learning and social interaction, and the mediation of learning through technology.

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.

More universities joining MOOCs

I am not surprised at all with more universities joining MOOCs (xMOOCs).

See this.  What are the implications? As shared in my posts here and here.

There are further opportunities in building education models where quality of education and learning experience are co-constructed and co-created by multiple networks of institutions and communities and networks, with a consortium of MOOCs like edXUdacityCoursera or the UK Open Learn initiative.

In summary, MOOC could be an opportunistic education model and platform where the four opportunities are identified – through the shifting into new and emergent education and business model, pedagogy, innovation in media and technology, and the re-bundling of value propositions.

I would speculate the coming 5 years to be the most heated competition (both collaboration and consortium) among the Education Supply and Demand Chains (MOOCs super chains) ever in the history of Education in Centuries.

I would have to re-write my BIG BANG theory of online education with MOOCs as they evolve, when new blend of theory of education and learning emerges.

From Best Practice to Creative, Innovative, Emergent and Novel Practice with MOOCs

I have often come across instructional designers and institutions grappling with best practice, in instructional and curriculum design.

A research on instructional design indicates the various “best practices” ranging from teacher-centered approach with LMS, to learner-centered approach with PLE/PLN.

Here in a paper on MOOC-Design-Principles.-A-Pedagogical-Approach-from-the-Learner by Lourdes GuàrdiaMarcelo MainaAlbert Sangrà:

focus on empowering learners in networked environments for fostering critical thinking and collaboration, developing competence based outcomes, encouraging peer assistance and assessment through social appraisal, providing strategies and tools for self-regulation, and finally using a variety of media and ICTs to create and publish learning resources and outputs.

These MOOC Design Principles are well argued and grounded.  In reflection, there are many useful strategies that are applicable both for the c and x MOOCS.  I would argue that these are based on emergent practice rather than best practice experience.

What sounds like best practice often doesn’t deliver to its promise, despite huge efforts in promoting and educating various designers, instructors and assessors.  Why?  The reasons lie mainly with the assumptions behind what makes best practice, especially in MOOCs.

In my previous post relating the differences between x and c MOOCs in attracting number of participants, I discuss on:

4. Degrees of difficulties – xMOOCs are much easier compared to cMOOCs.  This is grounded on that in xMOOCs, the instructors would have done most, if not all of the ground work necessary for teaching and learning for the learners.  What the learners are normally expected to do would be to consume the knowledge transmitted or broadcasted to them, and to confirm their understanding of the concepts through repeated quizzes or assignments.  This requires certain perseverance from the learners, though it is possible to achieve a high or perfect score in test, assignments and examinations through drills, repeated practice, as is common in a rote learning scenario.   The use of standard answers in the case of multiple choices, true/false, or short case scenarios, could all be checked with automated grading or assessment software.  For peer assessment, these are done in a closed manner, with the merits of “protecting” the learners from being “criticised” in public, but the demerits of being critiqued by only a few participants (4-5 other peers) in the whole evaluation.  Nevertheless, this seems to be well accepted as a way to assessment in the xMOOCs, as that might be the only feasible and reliable way to assess students in an institutional environment, without overly involving the professors in the assessment.

On the other hand, cMOOCs are much more difficult in terms of the wide array of skills and capabilities – such as a thorough understanding of the various artifacts posted, an evaluation of the artifacts, an aggregation of information, and the re-mixing, re-purposing or re-creating of posts that are based on knowledge creation and re-creation.  These artifacts or posts are also publicly available for assessment by peers and other educators, leading to further critique and discourse.  The main assessment has still been based on the feedback of the instructors, in the case of for-credit participants, though the assessment for non-credit participants are based on an optional basis, without any particular feedback report from the instructors (as this is not possible for the instructors to deal with massive number of participants).

5. Perceptions of learners – xMOOCs are based on 1,2,3 above, and 4 – learners – cMOOCs would have to curate resources and create blog posts/join forums.  The centralised platform (LMS) typically employed in the xMOOCs may be much simpler than the blogs and Personal Learning Environment/Network (PLE/N) as used in cMOOCs.

6. Pedagogy – xMOOCs employ a familiar pedagogy – mastery learning based on an instructivist approach (behavioral/cognitivist strategy) and peer assessment, whilst cMOOCs employ a relatively demanding pedagogy – social constructivist/connectivist approach which could sound chaotic at first sight.

xMOOCs rely principally on video lectures, resources posted on the LMS/main course website,  followed by questions, quizzes, some forum discussions, assignments, tests and examination.

cMOOCs rely principally on the connectivist principles as proposed by George and Stephen, with networked learning and connectivist knowledge based on aggregating, re-mixing, re-purposing and feed-forwarding of information.  As I have suggested here.

I still think the notion of best practice would be applicable only to simple scenarios of the Cynefin Model as developed by Dave Snowden.  You could have good practice under complicated learning scenario.  In the case of complex learning scenario such as MOOCs (especially in cMOOCs), then it is important to realise the emergent practice which is relevant, rather than good or best practice.  In the case of chaotic learning scenario such as cMOOCs,  novel practice is required in the curriculum and instructional design.

In summary, design of curriculum and instruction for MOOCs could be based on sound design principles as the research into MOOC reveals.  It would be imperative to move from best practice to creative, innovative, emergent and novel practice in the case of MOOCs, based on the needs of the learners, and the learning context, rather than the traditional “best practice”.  One size doesn’t fit all, especially in learning in MOOCs and so it would be necessary to consider emergent design learning principles rather than the “static” instrumental didactic instructivist approach in MOOCs (such as xMOOCs).

Pictures: From Google image

Cynefin model images

Cynefin model 2 images

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

The Learning as a Network Theory by Chatti

This ‘The Learning as a Network Theory (LaaN Theory)’ by Chatti provides an excellent overview of various learning theories, together with the introduction of LaaN Theory and how it could be used to help learners build and nurture their Personal Knowledge Networks.

Chatti explains:

The major role of LaaN is to help learners build and nurture their Personal Knowledge Networks and to foster connections between different PKNs in order to form a complex, adaptive, dynamic, open, and living entity; i.e. a knowledge ecology.

The primary focus of LaaN is mainly on the learner and her PKN and complex network learning is the type of learning best explained by LaaN.

Chatti further elaborates on the differences of each of the learning theories – Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Social Constructivism, Communities of Practice, Activity Theory and Actor Network Theory, and how each of them differs from the LaaN Theory.

Reference:

[PDF] The LaaN Theory

MA Chatti – … , Networks, and Knowledge, G. Siemens, S. …, 2012 – learntech.rwth-aachen.de
99 days ago – One of the core issues in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) is the
personalization of the learning experience. It is widely recognized that effective and efficient
learning need to be individualized–personalized and learner-controlled (cf. Attwell, 2007;