A response to Revamping a MOOC

Lisa has posted an important one on Revamping a MOOC http://lisahistory.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/course-recommendations-revamping-a-mooc/


I found her post so inspiring that I would like to respond to it here:

Hi Lisa,
This is an interesting debate.  I appreciate your, Bob’s and Jenny’s points on the course on restructuring and other comments. 
My point is: It’s really difficult to have a black or white strategy under connectivism – is it duality or plurality?  Are there any grey areas?
As mentioned by Jenny, a fully learner centered approach could be complex and chaotic.  I have used that in my on-the-job training and assessment in Distribution Centre Training.  Every learner becomes a leader.  They decide what, how, when, where and why they would like to learn them, all on an individual basis.  Every learning experience would be based on their needs, not mine.  I could be the guide on the side…
So, what make sense to the learner may not be what the instructor wants to do. And whether connectivism could really achieve this would depend on the learning paradigm adopted by the learner, not only the teacher.
For me, I take the stance of a learner (while I am a teacher by profession).  But I may not be connected to others, as others may be avoiding me as I am a “teacher”.  These are just my speculation.  With the same token, George and even Stephen took a stand-off role in some ways, to let go of the teacher’s hat.  But, what are the reactions of the participants? It’s a complex and emergent situation.  A structured course like this will suit someone like you, perhaps.  But, again under connectivism, a network or community of practice will suit a bigger “audience”.  Are we having the “right” audience or participants for this course?  Are we having the “learner centred” approach to “teaching and learning”?  This experiment has revealed part of the emergent phenomena.  Does it mean that we have to become “true” learners to appreciate connectivism?  Would you mind me including everyone, you, Jenny and me as true learners?  I am not sure whether Stephen and George would agree.  ??

Connectivism – What are the undesirable by-products of connections?


I have noted numerous intrusion to my blog and emails (in particular) and computer (over the internet): angry

  1. spywares
  2. pingbacks/spams with adult themes (advert. on porno, sex, dating, car insurance, etc.), and others such as construction jobs advert. …(at least 4 spams)
  3. offer me with a huge sum of money (from a mysterious account) 
  4. virus

Am I still secure?thoughtful

I have even found a mixed blog which has “posted my recent post on blog” on its blog with “an attraction” for advertisement.  It hasn’t got my consent.  Is it an “e-theft”? What are the ways to stop these from happening? surprise

And here in the forum, at times, with no idea about who I am talking with, not knowing their intention or needs, and expectation (a metaphor – the camouflage). Are people really open? What portion of the conversation is genuine?

In second life: Is he/she an avatar (fictitious one) or a real person?  Is the learning experience shared authentic?   

Unfortunately, these are the by-products of connections.  These are not only future dimensions, but immediate threat.  How to deal with these?

I learn from my co-learner that sage on stage would be better to be guide on side.  In this insecure ecology filled with terrorist attacks and computer virus and security threats (I don’t want to be negative, but have to be realistic), who could be my guide?

Am I too critical?

Are these also your concerns?wide eyes

Final paper on Connectivism – Part I – An exciting flight

You are invited to watch these videos on Youtube




 I still call Australia home


Here is my final paper on Connectivism-Part I.  I am doing all the assessments starting from the end, due partly to the time needed for reflection, but also my quest for a better version to be published to the public.

To address George’s questions

1.       What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?

2.       How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?

3.     How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

4.    What types of questions are still outstanding?

May I start off with a metaphor?

Flight in search of learning experience with people and learning/educational  landscape

I have often liked to take flight to reach different places of the world.  This has widened my understanding of the knowledge, perspectives and habits of other people.  I could see the importance of social, political and cultural values, and habits of people in learning and education in this global village.

When I first joined this course, I found I was boarding a virtual flight on connectivism.  With a 2000 plus passengers on board, we were all ready for the take off.  At the start, everything seemed so smooth.  It was an exciting journey, so new to me, that I wondered if I have chosen the “right” flight. 

Then, here came the announcement of the chief pilots- George Siemens and Stephen Downes (G&S), that the flight was on time and on track.  And our plane climbed the heights (the connective knowledge, networks and history of networks sessions in 2nd, 3rdand 4th week) smoothly…. 

Then the Moodle, Blogs, Wiki, Daily, RSS, Facebook, Second Life etc. were all in place and I felt like connecting to the other passengers using the computer screens – the internet and the artefacts. And it seemed that we have all boarded on an actual plane, where we could connect and have conversation with each other.  Due to the friendly service of G&S, everything seemed nice and calm.   

Then there came a surprise announcement from a female co-pilot named Catherine.  We were informed that the course track wasn’t right.  Our flight was heading to the wrong direction! I was taken back by such a surprise notice. I thought it must be a hijack! 

I talked to myself: ’Take it easy, calm down”

With the courageous act of the two steering pilots G&S and few passengers, the voices seemed to calm down.  It wasn’t a hijack at all.  It was just a virtual game – to entertain us.  And we were told that we could enjoy our flight, and so just relax with our dinner.

Then, there came the turbulence, power in between the pilots and passengers, when I have to fasten my seat belt.  It was a bumpy ride, and luckily, I have got my gears ready, and so I was safe and sound.  On one occasion, I took the breathing apparatus to keep alive.  But after a few more roller coaster rides, the complexity and chaos theories, the jargons, metaphors on friction, pipes, etc. I managed to focus on my exploration.  I finally understand where I am, and who I am talking to. And I soon got accustomed to the flight.

Once we have moved to the 9th week, we were safe.  And here came

the landing in Week 12. Safe and sound landing on the wonderland of connectivism.

I am going to start my reflections by trying to answer these questions – but I may come back with further reflections in a later post.

1.       What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?

Throughout my journey here in this course, I managed to make a few strong “ties”, but most of the others are just “weak ties”.  In the moodle, I took an active part with a lot of co-learners.  I often interacted with Roy, Ken, Bradley, Dolores, Ruth, Jo Ann, Om, Pat, Mrs Durff, Jorge, Carlo, Jon, Sarah, Bob, Carlos, Frances, Catherine, Andreas, Ed, Lee, George and some others.  In the blogosphere, I often connect with various co-learners, like Jenny, Mike, Lisa, Tom, Maru, Ariel, Ailsa, Viplav, Dave and Keith, and many others. 

I managed to maintain conversation with more than 40 participants throughout the diverse network.  Gradually, I have to use RSS, Google Reader, Delicious, Wiki and blogs to keep up with the connections and aggregations.  I thought I have been able to connect with others without too much difficulties.  However, I also realised that it was a challenge in sustaining the connections due to two main reasons. First, any connection must start with a sincere intention, whether it is a post, or a response.  Second, reason and passion (and emotion) must be considered in a connection or interaction.   It really opens up my learning in that not only “like minds attract”, “unlike minds attract too”. 

I hope I could maintain such enthusiasm in connection even after this course, by taking an active part in blogging and response.

 2.  How has this course influenced my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?



I started off on-the-job training in 2000, and since then I realised our learners (including me) all learn in a diverse manner.  Learning from the instructor, peers, various artefacts mediated (resources, internet), work itself, etc.  Both formal and informal learning are important, in that they all contribute to one’s life long learning due to its emergent nature. From this course, I further realised the importance of emergent learning distributed throughout the networks, at neural, conceptual and social/external level. So, learning could be complex, and chaotic.  But out of all these came the emergent pattern, where one could find the order, the knowledge hidden behind – both the tacit and explicit knowledge in connections are important. 


Patterning of Knowledge and Wayfinding


This course has helped me in focusing on the pattern that lies behind those formal and informal learning.  I have gained a better understanding of the knowledge distributed in the network and in particular the artefacts and people.  Without such mining of distributed knowledge and learning, I would still think that knowledge could only be acquired.  I have also steered my learning in a different direction, with a focus on continuous learning via way finding.   

More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections that allow one to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways.  William Cronon, 1998 

3.       How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

I have already incorporated a number of principles in my design and delivery of learning at work.

These included:

·         Re-structuring the units of competencies that map the learners’ needs.  A complete learner centred approach towards learning

·         Design of Resources and Delivery of Learning –Resources were customised to each trainees’ needs – printed learner’s guides and assessment tools followed by mentoring visits and on-line session

Learning Management System (LMS) are structured: the Janison Learning Management System Tool box (similar to Moodle) with e-learning resources like virtual warehouse etc. and all powerpoints on lectures, activities and assessment tasks and quizzes are available in the LMS.

Further attempts include the extension of more blogs and wikis to support learning.

4.What types of questions are still outstanding?

·         How decisions could be made effectively in networks, given the diverse opinions and autonomy of the learners.

·         Explore the wider use of connectivism in a corporate training environment.  Is applied connectivism (such as Web 2.0) applicable to the training of CEOs and senior management?

·         What will be the use of connectivism in e-mentoring?

·         How will connectivism add values to teachers who prefer to teach in a face-to-face format?



Identity under connectivism or network learning



As I have highlighted in another thread (connective world), identity is important in network learning.  http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=1206

Would we want our coming generation to become a virtual human being without identity?  And that “such e-citizen” are not trustworthy?  Do we want to educate our children to connect and communicate with others with integrity (trust, honesty, openness with respect)?  Do we wish to see each other connecting with a fake identity?  There may be good reasons not to expose one’s identity.  But in the long run, why?

Can we trust any survey done when it could be done with fake identities?  Can we trust scientific study based on digital networks which have fake identities?  I suppose any e-surveys can then be made to serve its purpose – with fake results.  Fake-in-fake-out!mixed

I can claim to have done all researches and surveys on connectivism, just like the cloning research conducted, which was later found to be fake.  Why?  Is it because human are selfish?  Looking just for fame? Or is it a joke to the whole world?  Is it really education?  Is that learning?

Would it be disastrous to see this happening?  

Take a look at the current terrorist pandemic, is it a result of terrorist networks?  How could “human” be identified within such network?    Are we really secured under a network learning environment?

Connectivism – my personal development resources


Under connectivism, apart from the technology that I have used (as an enabler) and the various connections made,  I have made use of other related personal development resources to enhance my learning. 


If you are interested in the leading of a powerful life, Stephen R. Covey could be a good read. http://www.stephencovey.com/8thHabit/8thhabit.php 

He mentions about Conscience (modeling), surrounded by Vision (pathfinding), Passion (empowering), and Discipline (aligning)- the four roles of leadership. I found the pathfinding and modeling concept quite similar to Stephen’s learning model.
I have interest in Stephen Covey’s 7th and 8th habits for years.

Emotional and Social Intelligence

I also found the books on emotional intelligence and Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman very good read. To me, those concepts on the human relationship leverage the effects arising from connections in connectivism.


Other further interesting theories include: Self-Determination Theory

It highlights the focus on professional development by creating an environment that facilitates intrinsic motivation.

How do you find the above resources?

1. What sort of resources are you using?

2.  How do you use those resources?  For reflection?  For application?

3. How do they add value to your connections?

What is needed for research?

“Connectivism can draw much from research in related fields such as neuroscience for understanding biological basis of learning, AI for how neural networks function, sociology for external connections, psychology for conceptual formations, systems thinking for understanding how the entire system of education relates”


Thanks George for your insights. I agree.  approve

There are both opportunities and challenges:

Opportunities: smile

  1. Reinforce the theory of connectivism – especially a deeper understanding of the concepts and principles governing connectivism.
  2. Inform authorities and stakeholders (i.e. higher education in particular) of the theoretical framework of “emergent” connectivism
  3. Introduction of psychology for conceptual framework and connections would provide a leverage to connections, and a framework in understanding the dynamics of both strong and weak ties (at all three levels – neural, conceptual, external/social).

Challenges:wide eyes

  1. Some critics viewed connectivism as a blend of different theories – including behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, social constructivism, complex and chaos theories, constructionism,..and are similar in certain ways to Actor Network Theories (ANT).   How would such research be “integrated” given that each theory proponents have their own views on those theories?  Extending those theories into connectivism would need to be considered under specific context.  Will the findings be inconclusive?  And I am not too sure when it comes a “virtual world” whereas some research findings may not be reflective of reality (will provide evidence based on url in coming threads).  How would one overcome that?
  2. Which is more important in research?  Applied connectivism? Empirical research?  Cross discipline research? 
  3. Will any of the researches be funded?
  4. Given that such researches may be based on individual initiatives (such as a PhD thesis), competition (in funding) rather than collaboration may arise.
  5. If the researchers are to form networks, will copy right (or plagiarism) be an issue?  How original will such researches be?
  6. How will peer review be coordinated?  Is it through instititutions or networks?  How will credentials be achieved?
  7. It’s difficult for novice to weave through the different theories, and any research on those other areas create conflicting views in connectivism (which may turn up to be a good idea). 

I think getting research done in those areas is not too difficult, as there are already many PhD candidates doing research in this connectivism area.  Getting coordinated results and colloborations amongst researchers would be the most difficult part of it.  A “network” or “community of practice” approach would likely yield better result.  But would it be easy to coordinate such efforts?  Networking amongst researchers is never an easy task – note the “autonomy of scholars” and “islands of researches” that has happened in the past.thoughtful 

Even by now, only you and Stephen are the main pioneers in this area, would we need more people to join?  But again, this will add complications to the theory, as it is evidenced in this course, towards a learner centred approach, and as an emergent learning theory. 

I am still learning…blush

Your comments please.

Suggestion of a wiki, ning or edublog on connectivism

Do we need more ideas from others?

The options could be

(a) an existing wiki (such as this course)

(b) a new wiki

(c) a new Ning

(d) an existing edublog

(e) a new edublog


If we have a few of us starting it, I think it will just take a few days to build the initial one – we can have a few suggestions on the title of the “wiki or blog”.  And if people like to contribute, just leave your blog contact here and we could keep in touch with each other to have a go.  What do you think?

Everyone is welcome.  And I trust that all of “us” are equal in sharing the “power” if there are any!