#PLENK2010 Roles and responsibilities of participants

Great to learn Rita’s insights in her great post Formal Learners Get Best of Both Worlds post.
I intended to be more involved in the dialogue in these few weeks, but couldn’t do so…. I could only make a few comments and questions that were based on my observations and past research.
In MOOC – PLENK: Would the participants perceive themselves as “learners”? What differentiate PLENK MOOC from the other formal courses were that participants are looking for learning, but may not particularly think they are “real learners” as those in formal courses. Or may be not? I can’t conclude….
When I did CCK08, I once commented that I was a learner in the course, and Roy (my co-researcher) reminded me that he was perceiving it differently – (my interpretation – that of a colleague). If that is the case, what would the role of the participants and instructors? How do they acknowledge their receipt of “instructions” or sharing their learning?
I think this may be a critical point in MOOC, as without a personal identity in the group, and an understanding of the roles and responsibility one has, there could be “role conflicts” amongst participants and instructors. For instance, if a participant raised a question in forum to the instructor, under a formal online class, the instructor would have a choice of responding straight (i.e. that would be his/her formal responsibility) or directing the student through questioning, or mentoring, or asking how other students see it. However, in the MOOC PLENK, when a participant raised a serious concern (as evidenced in a few forum posts), what would be response by the instructors? What would be the responses of the other participants? As the participant was questioning the instructor, it seems more appropriate for the instructor to respond direct to the participant, rather than having many other participants responding & advising that participant what to do (at least in a formal course), as there are many implications here when such comments are left in public forum by any participants, revealing one’s “weaknesses, feelings of helplessness, and potential issues (i.e. how would others perceive each other). So, high sensitivity and empathy is important in dealing with any conversation, not to mention dialogue.
I use the above example just to illustrate how “complex” it could be both in forum and blog conversation. So what are the assumptions behind the findings of those researches done (i.e. most are relating to formal courses, where participants are formal registered learners)? Would such assumptions be equally applicable with the participants of PLENK MOOC? What are the perceived roles of the participants? Do participants feel obligated to support and help in all circumstances?  I would assume yes – but how could one help others if he or she doesn’t know or understand what the real needs and goals of the other persons are?
Would the expectations of some of the participants be actual instructions from the instructors? Yes, more guidance direct from instructors and TRUE experts, rather than from other participants – who he/she doesn’t know if they are the great “experts” and “knowledgeable others” they are expecting. This seems explicit even in the Elluminate Session.
But we need to understand:
(a) this course is open – and free, and so participants are already enjoying a free session, and free instruction…
(b) this course allows for full learner autonomy, and is different from any formal course, so what else would the participants want? Constraints? Limited learner autonomy? Guidance – and to what level?
(c) This course has no particular assessment requirements – so what would the participants want? Assessment? Evaluation?
What do you think?
John

2 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 Roles and responsibilities of participants

  1. Pingback: #PLENK2010 Short reflection on MOOC | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

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