#PLENK 2010 Reflection on MOOC experiments

My response to Chris Life under microscope
I could understand how it feels when “PLENKers are lab rats running the maze of a completely unstructured learning experience so that the people in white coats can observe us and form theories about how lab rats learn so that they might build the personal learning environment of the future.”

Photos: from Flickr


First, I had been with Jenny throughout the journey in CCK08, and also experienced quite a lot on such learning environment with many others like Ken in the CCK courses. I could sense that you, like many others won’t feel comfortable with that role. That’s also why I have volunteered to conduct action research this time, rather than being just a participant, in order to gain a deeper understanding of MOOC/PLENK from different perspectives. I reckon if it is researched and learned with that in mind, then it will be more about “youself or myself” learning in the course, and how your way of learning would be influenced by the connections under such an ecology (course), rather than teaching and learning strategies in a typical formal course, which normally would be about “us (students) and them (instructors)” Without such experiment/experience, how would we be confident in “trying it out” with our students? Would it work for your students? If you use the plenk (MOOC) approach, why would your students bail out? What would you recommend instead? I love to hear.

Photo: From PLENK blog
Is this MOOC about teaching? In previous MOOC, there were many teachers joining the course, expecting to learn about “teaching strategies” in MOOC. No, CCK was about learning, and so is PLENK. That’s why you may have to justify your teaching methods (as you said), as this is about learning, not “teaching”….

Photo: From Flickr

The social ecology

We need to have a humorous side of PLENK?



4 thoughts on “#PLENK 2010 Reflection on MOOC experiments

  1. Hi John – I think you raise an interesting point when you question of whether this course is about teaching or learning. As a ‘life-long’ teacher myself I find this type of course really stimulating as a lot of what I learn is about teaching – or at least learning to think about teaching in new ways – so I am fascinated by what works and what doesn’t, what will enhance learners’ learning and what won’t – from a teacher perspective. So my main interest in these courses is how my own personal learning as a result of being involved will affect my teaching.

    On the other hand good teaching always starts from a learner perspective, which is why there is currently such a lot of research going on into learner experiences as is happening here and in the ELESIG community – http://elesig.ning.com/

    So for me this course is about both teaching and learning.


  2. Hi Jenny,
    I think I am totally with you, especially on my learning too:”So my main interest in these courses is how my own personal learning as a result of being involved will affect my teaching.”
    Here is the link to the comment by Stephen:

    Stephen says:
    I know that most of the people in a course like this are teachers or are working from a teaching perspective. Even so, I think it is a bit of a misattribution of the theory to ask, “How does it help you in your teaching?” People looking for tips and tricks to support their classroom teaching are, in my opinion, looking in the wrong place.

    This theory is, first and foremost, a theory about learning. This is why I tweeted a few weeks ago that people – including teachers – should be viewing Connectivism as a theory describing how to learn, not how to teach. And what it says about learning, essentially, is that you should immerse yourselve in the relevant environment, observe and practice the common actions in that environment, and reflect on that practice.

    I have described the pedagogy that emerges from Connectivism in the siumplest possible terms:
    – to teach is to model and to demonstrate
    – to learn is to practice and reflect
    In a certain important sense, teaching isn’t about ‘telling’ at all, and it certainly isn’t about classroom management, marking and assessing, or providing a structured series of learning events.”

    So, surely many participants who are like you and me would be interested about new and innovative ways of learning and teaching.

    As PLENK is about PERSONAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, NETWORK & KNOWLEDGE, to me, the course’s emphasis seems to be focussed more on learning rather than “TEACHING”. As an education practitioner, I realise the importance of embracing learning in teaching under PLENK.

    How about a balance between teaching and learning?


  3. As I caused this blog post to be written … it feels remiss of me to have only discovered it nearly a week after it was written. Unfortunately real life really caught up with me last week and today (Sunday) is the first time I’ve had a chance to catch up with The Daily’s for week 6 which is where I picked up the link to your post.

    Not much time to really reflect now either… So I’ll let your words (and those of Jenny, who commented on my post and left me a link to your joint paper on CK08/09) peculate a bit and then respond in more detail.

    My real question is, I suppose, is PLENK2010 a learning experience for the participants or an experiment in social learning for the researchers? Hélène’s Fournier’s session on Wednesday 13 October seemed to be asking questions about gathering statistics that would be more useful to inform the researchers than the learners!

  4. Hi Chris,
    I could see your points. I appreciate your sharing, and I think that is a very important part of the learning in PLENK & MOOC. As a participant (though I am also a volunteer researcher) of PLENK, I would think the learning experience is the most important part of all.
    “Is PLENK 2010 a learning experience for the participants or an experiment in social learning for the researchers?” This may best be addressed by the course conveners then.
    As regards to Helene Fournier’s session, again, she may be the best person to respond to your question.
    Thank you so much for your insights.

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