A reflection of MOOC

I enjoyed Tony Karrer’s post on informal learning technology & conversation with Paul .
As a participant and researcher of CCK08, a participant in various MOOC of CCK09 and the current CritLit2010, may I share some thoughts about informal learning?
We (Jenny, Roy and I) had conducted research in CCK08 and you would be able to find them in my post of the Ideals and Reality of Participating in a MOOC.
Would informal/formal learning work in formal courses? Is self-directed or organised learning working in MOOC? How would it work?

I have tried part of what I have learnt from MOOC in my work, which was based mainly on face to face teaching, coupled with Moodle as a repository of resources, together with some introduction to PLE, and I am still reflecting on some initial findings.  So far, I have found it rewarding to try some of the ideas: VLE, PLE, but it would be too early to draw my conclusions on what might be the best way to apply a connectivist approach towards learning with (MOOC) in my own teaching.
If one purposely designs activities for professionals and educators or learners, then it may help the learners to start with learning on some particular aspect or  topic of a course.
However would this help in building the enthusiasm and motivation required for MOOC in the long run? What happens if there are little or no further moderation or connections amongst the instructors and participants? How do we know if the activities designed are suitable for the participants or not?  What happens if the activities are not fully relevant to the educators or learners’ needs, either personally or that at work?  What are the feedback mechanisms?
I don’t think there is  a panacea in addressing this MOOC design and delivery challenge, as it really depends on the responses to questions such as:
  1. What are the motivation of instructors in such MOOC?
  2. What are the motivations of participants participating in a MOOC? What are their needs and expectations?  How would their needs and expectations be fulfilled?
  3. What are the design and delivery (content and process) which attract the participants?
  4. What sort of knowledge, learning and “connections” would such MOOC provide?
  5. What are the roles of instructors and learners in the MOOC?
  6. Would scale be a factor to be considered in MOOC?
  7. What would be the limiting size of a MOOC?
  8. What are the assessment criteria for the MOOC?
  9. How will the MOOC be assessed and evaluated, both by the instructors and participants?
  10. What value will a MOOC add to instructors, learners and institute?
My experience and reflection:
What made MOOC “ticked” is not the qualification – the credit nature, (though there might be learners taking course for credit purpose), but the emergent learning resulting from peer “teaching”, “mentoring” and learning, and the instructors provision of a learning environment (network) where participants could learn and experiment together.  It is the curiosity of learning and “aha! moment” which would stimulate the instructors and participants to raise the learning to a higher level in a course, thus releasing the potentials of the participants in their further quest for learning challenges.   Besides, it would be imperative to have some aggregations coming from the course instructors and or participants.  The Daily from Stephen and Rita did help in providing valuable sources of information for further aggregation and sharing.
From: Flickr
Here PLE functions would help in the “self organised nature of networked learning” amongst the participants and instructors when they:
  • Aggregate
  • Remix
  • Repurpose
  • Feed forward
Educators have got lots of experience and knowledge to share.  It is the ecology (learning environment) that would build up the learning, where educators (instructors and participants) could openly share their experience, build and bounce their ideas and experience that would enhance their learning.  There is also a need for having useful and valuable resources for educators to access, to study and reflect, and share and discuss on the salient points or topics that are of interests to them.  It is not a one-off connection, or one-off conversation that would lead to the emergent learning.  It requires revitalisation of focus and topic of interests from both the instructors and participants to keep the momentum of the network.
This is where I am up to.  More reflection forthcoming.
What do you think are the important factors to be considered in MOOC?
I will refer to Stephen’s post here for more reflection.

#CritLit2010 The Challenge of Connectivity

I resonate with Sherry’s views in her post Digital Demands: The Challenge of Constant Connectivity: that we are forgetting the intellectual and emotional value of solitude. As Benjamin Franklin once said:”Joy is not in things; joy is in us” We will lose our balance and our perspective with too much connectivity, and might even become slave to technology, if we rely too much on its affordance. I also found it worthwhile to meditate and pray, as a
Catholic, in order to maintain my spiritual growth and faith. So, moments of solitude could help me to concentrate without too much distractions. I think our own inner dialogue is also an important key to success, when we could think critically and reflect thoroughly before we take any action or make any important decision.

This conversation was held on Facebook with Irmeli, Steve and Donald and here is my response:

I have also shared that connectivity is like 2 sides of the coins in my blog post on my response to Nicola, where if there are too many coins stacked together, they would just topple. So, for me, I could only manage limited connections. May be some people could manage hundred or thousand connections, but I would like to learn if such learning be also based on the Pareto Rule: 80% learning coming from 20% connections, meaning that quality connections with fewer than the 100’s is better than having thousand of connections which are not adding learning values in the connections. This is just my experience and may need more debates to verify. But I resonate with the slow blogging concept, as once upon, I didn’t blog at all, but I wrote up lots of papers instead in the 90s and this decade, but have never published them. Did I learn?
I would like to test the theory of Pareto rule (or Power Laws) in networked learning myself? Does it ring a bell to each of you – Irmeli, Steve, and Donald?

This Social Media Science Experiments provide some insights into social networks and an understanding of who is talking to whom, and why?

As explained by George in his post on Social Media Experiments

Watts suggests that small-scale strategies, targeting individuals instead of large systems

See this Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation

The presentation is a really interesting look at much of the actual research, development and science that goes into monitoring social networks, with the goal of having a better understanding about how these systems work so that those tools and networks can be improved.

Would it be worthwhile to consider similar learning strategies for individuals – i.e. consider small-scale strategies in learning via the social networks.

I have yet to respond to Donald’s interesting post on leadership here.

Advice network


#CritLit2010 Connectivism as the journey continues

Ulop has got it spot on here.

Connectivism = (Network + Stimuli + Interaction) = Trained Reaction

Is this a form of behaviourism (operant conditioning)?

I think I have to leave Stephen to respond to this.

I have to re-think the approach taken by Stephen in his having reasons – by looking at the network, its association with the environment and actors, and the associated changes in response to stimuli, the original patterns (knowledge as recognition of pattern) and the emergent patterns, whereas George has been focusing learning as connection of nodes in the network, and the primacy is on the connection, not on the networks.  This sounds interesting.

In Stephen’s post of having reasons, I found it amazing to apply the Semantics Theory in various areas – concepts of truth, epistemology, and science.  What I could conclude is: there are “truths” under each lens of theory, and claims and evidence that would be proven to be true under certain context and time.  However, what we could observe and true to our senses may sometimes be based on intuition rather than reasons, despite our claim of reasons in arriving to certain conclusions. Take for example, the reasons for: the sky is blue.

Photos: From Flickr

Here is the explanation of us seeing a blue sky based on wikipedia:

The sunlit sky appears blue because air scatters short-wavelength light more than longer wavelengths. Since blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light. The result is that the human eye perceives blue when looking toward parts of the sky other than the sun.[1]

Can the sky look red?  Why on some days when we see a red sky, especially at sunrise and sunset?

Near sunrise and sunset, most of the light we see comes in nearly tangent to the Earth’s surface, so that the light’s path through the atmosphere is so long that much of the blue and even green light is scattered out, leaving the sun rays and the clouds it illuminates red. Therefore, when looking at the sunset and sunrise, you will see the color red more than any of the other colors.

If I were to base my reasoning on the above explanation, would I be convinced?  Would I think this is the truth? Or would this be my perception of the truth, as explained in wikipedia?  What is my “trust” level on wikipedia?  What is my trust on the fact that “blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light”.

If 100% of the people see the sky as blue, does it mean that the sky is blue?  How about those who are “color blinded”?  Do they see the same “blue” color as those who are not?  Do we all see the same color spectrum?  Are we born with vision seeing the light in “same” or “similar” ways?

So, how would I interpret these in Connectivism.  Would we be looking at connections as learning or at patterns similar to looking at the way we interpret why the sky is blue?

First, our conclusion that the sky is blue is based on our daily observation that the sky has ALWAYS been blue, and we are trying to explain such phenomenon using a scientific approach – that is based on “blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light” and that we have seen this nearly 100% of the time by majority of people (this needs qualification).  We have been taught by the “books” that sky is blue is a fact and cannot be disputed.  This is the theory part.

Second, our reasoning of the sky is blue could be validated if we are to construct an artificial sky within a laboratory, where we could simulate the light condition and see if we could see the light within such an artificial condition.  So, our conclusions are arrived based on actual data and evidence.  This is the experiment, and the experimental data.  Or the empirical results coming out of the experiment.

Third, we would need to replicate the observation and see if this is always true under all CIRCUMSTANCES in different parts of the world, and at different times.  This refers to further validation with more evidences. This also requires us to predict what will happen in future. Does this sky always blue hold true in all parts of the world, for the future, despite that it was observed in the past and present to be true?  Would most of us be saying an astounding yes?  May be this is the question.  How do we know that light is always having such properties (or spectrum)?  Have we checked whether the light properties have changed over time?  Think about relativity and you might like to ask whether we are so certain in answering that the spectrum of light hasn’t changed for the whole of human history.

I don’t know the answer, but I would like to know the answer.

So, what I would like to reflect is: If we were to use this the Sky is blue as a metaphor in looking into a learning theory or learning itself, are we looking at learning in a similar way to looking into the sky is blue in some respects?

I will pause at this stage to reflect on what it means when it is applied to Connectivism.

Are we looking at the connections (as learning), and the patterns (the knowledge as pattern recognition) in an ongoing basis? Can we “prove” our notions of knowledge using our senses, our scientific judgment or our intuition?  Are we looking and perceiving the theory using different senses (may be sensemaking, if we can claim), and way finding (based on scientists pointing out the way, other people telling us that it is true, or for us actually experimenting, reasoning and sharing and conversing with others before we make our conclusion, though we may need to follow the ways using different approaches)

This is an exciting journey for me, and I would like to continue with this.

Thanks to Stephen and George, and everyone in CritLit2010…

Postscript: Here in this lecture, there is an explanation of why the sky is blue.

Photo: From Flickr