Based on blog posted so far:including this one by Nicola
Some of the emerging themes include:
Time and information management: Some participants found it ok in managing their time in the course whilst others often found it hard, due to personal reasons and often feelings of overwhelming amount of information to be covered, and didn’t feel comfortable in the “selection” and filtering of resources or artifacts. Facilitators did attempt to “intervene” or instruct by convincing or influencing participants the importance of focus and clustering. Also, a “survey” type of collective inquiry was initiated in the forum to gain a deeper understanding of the major challenges and issues in such management of time AND learning in the course PLENK.
Connections: Participants often wondered how their voices would be heard in such a MOOC PLENK, whether it be in the blogs and or forums. Stephen responded with explanation on how to be heard. Often there seemed to be a lack of responses or comments even after the participants have made repeated attempts and extra efforts in trying to connect through their blogs or posting in forums. The trend in the forums did show a decrease in the number of postings, whereas the number of blog postings did show some increase throughout the past weeks. The facilitators did attempt to convince and influence the participants to move the discussion to blogs, so as to reduce the impact of overwhelming of information or “information overload due to discussion in the forum”. Some discussion on having concise posting was raised, but there were some divided opinions in the forums. Some connections in the forum seem to have focussed on more in-depth discussion of the pedagogical aspects of PLE/N, that could foster conceptual connections. However, the connections were again rather diverse and “weak” and that left with some evidences of critical thinking and evaluation. More evidences of research support may be necessary to substantiate those claims. The facilitators (Rita in particular) did attempt to cultivate the connections through more facilitation with research findings, coupled with personal insights. This reinforces some of the more emergent concepts arising from the MOOC – (a) learner autonomy, (b) power issues, and (c) critical literacies. Besides, the notion of openness in MOOC (PLENK) were raised by various bloggers Jenny Mackness, David Wiley, Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Dave Cormier, Rita Kop, and participants, which all relate to how openness would have impacted on the social/personal connections that would be made, the implications arising from the use of Open education resources (OER) or open resources would have influenced education and the associated connections (i.e. how people connect with artifacts (is it freely and openly, or people have to pay or subscribe to access the resources), and the connections with facilitators, other participants through tagging, curating etc.
Personal Learning – This relates back to how individuals learn in PLENK. At this stage of the course, many participants still thought that they might have managed their learning to certain extent, through the use of PLE (as tools, platforms of learning, and certain connections with facilitators, some other participants, and artifacts through the LMS (forums), Daily, Elluminate, and Twitter etc. However, it seems that many participants are still not yet able to fully connect with others as “clusters”, or groups as yet, as reported by various bloggers and forum posters. May be this is a plateau period of interaction, where participants are spending more time in reflecting on what they have learnt so far (as shared by Jenny here), and are more hesitant in further connections unless they perceive further values added to their learning with posting in forums, in particular. There is also a plausible explanation: some participants who have learnt about critical thinking would like to practise the critical thinking as a personal development process. As critical thinkers, such participants would likely withhold judgment, think more critically by analysing information, evaluating evidences and making judgment more cautiously, before expressing their views or comments in forums or blogs. Such reflective thinking also means a higher level of personal learning with cognitions and thus may be a demonstration of critical literacy as espoused by Stephen Downes (refer to elements of critical literacy: syntax, semantics, pragmatics, context, change and cognition). George also highlights the importance of critical literacies here and managing information in learning through PLENK. Further evidences are required from this research to substantiate such claims on personal learning and critical literacies capacity development.
Power and influence: The power and influence exercised by the facilitators and participants has been nuanced, but have surfaced in the forum postings in numerous settings, where certain opinions or beliefs have been challenged by both facilitators and participants in exchange, and in blog postings, here facilitators tried to convince participants the primacy of connections and importance of managing chaos, filtering or selection of information, curating of information, and the tolerance needed in face of ambiguity, chaos, complexity and abundance of information. There have been warm welcome of such instructions and influence by some participants, as evidenced in the Elluminate and blog postings.
Initial analysis by George did show the trend of postings and the emergent nature of the course, in terms of course design, delivery and connections. Refer to this Siemens, G. Learning in Open Courses
Downes, S. A world to change
More learning analytics and further research findings are required to substantiate such claims.