#PLENK2010 On Learning Theories and Learner Taxonomy

In this post, I would like to explore Learning theories and Learner Taxonomy.

Refer to my previous post and an interesting post here on Bloom’s Taxonomy, what further elements might be considered in the latest revised Bloom’s model?

How about

(a) connections/disconnections/re-connections of learner with networks;

(b) interactions/engagement/cooperation/collaboration/integration with nodes/networks; growth, development & sustainability/decay;

(c) unlearning/relearning in response to changing/dynamic networked/learning environments?

The article here provides a useful summary of some application of learning theories.  Peter concluded that:

To make online teaching and training materials more effective, an agency should first establish suitable learning goals and objectives. Since the priority of instruction is to “benefit” or “instruct” the learner, instructional designers should then strive to facilitate the learning process i.e., make learning easier. This can be accomplished by applying proven learning theories and pedagogical practices, as well as, practical web-design strategies and guidelines, to their instructional design.

I have been recently thinking about learning based on a number of perspectives/assumptions (refer to this  Match and Mismatch between Learner Stages and Teacher Styles also discussed in Rita’s post here):
(a) Learning from a teaching perspective,
(b) learning from a learning perspective,
(c) teaching from a teaching perspective, and
(d) teaching from a learning perspective.

This would then form a matrix with the 4 quadrants. Each quadrant would then be connected with others (juxtaposed) to delineate the emphasis based on a number of criteria.

Teaching perspective could include the following themes & dimensions: LMS, Formal course/instructional design & pedagogy, teaching space, power and control (where I would like to refer to Stephen’s post on power of networks), assessment and accreditation, teachers’ role and responsibilities, teaching and learning resources.

Learning perspective could include the following themes & dimensions: PLE/PLN, eportfolio, self and peer assessment and teacher’s assessment, learners’ role and responsibilities, OER (open education resources), learner’s autonomy, social media, networks and Web 2.0 (i.e. media affordance), and network connections, interactions and engagement.

With each perspective, then one could develop the mapping based on a model similar to revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, (though I think it could be further refined or developed based on a more learner-based PLE/N model), to reflect the dynamic and adaptive mode of learning, rather than the “static” and linear model of “taxonomy”.

How about a dynamic model that is based on Folksonomy and Wordle approach (with tags and key words of learning from a learners’ perspective)?

The emerged themes would form the basis of individual’s learning based on personal learning, “individual learning styles”, multiple intelligence one has and the conceptual connections within and across domains. This could then be overlaid with the teacher’s perspectives (like the constructive alignment).

Such approach would be based on emergent principles (i.e. both the chaos and complexity theory) as the learner may be self-directed and the network he/she engages may be self organising, which means that a higher order of learning would involve sensemaking and wayfinding – i.e. identifying ways and strategies, analysing, sensing (sense making), responding, interacting, cooperating and collaborating/open sharing via networks, personal risk “controlling”, integrating, creating (individually, connectively, and or collectively) and deciding.

Such teaching/learning needs to be based upon the complexity of learning situations (situational learning, learning trajectory that one would like to adopt, i.e. LPL (legitimate Peripheral Learning) or Self-directed Learning to Active Participative Learning and personal autonomy.

Finally a connective learning approach would consolidate and integrate the learning that form the basis of networked learning – with different learning theories embedded at different stages of learning as shared here.


#PLENK2010 MOOC Reflection Part I

This is a continuation of the discourse on MOOC.  Here I would like to relate to questions that I think would be important.  Such issues were discussed by George, Stephen, Jenny, Rita and many others who had led or participated in MOOC.

Part I

What’s wrong with MOOC? Should MOOC be a course or an uncourse? Should MOOC be treated like an event (or a conference)?  What about assessment in MOOC?

Part II

Is accreditation important in an online course?  What are the options available to assessment and accreditation in online course such as MOOC? What are the implications of those options?

Part III

What were the lessons learned from MOOC?

Part I

What’s wrong with MOOC?

An interesting discussion here about unlearning in MOOC.

Would (M)OOc’s be any more successful with self organised learners drawn from non traditional non-institutional backgrounds? Those from a clean slate un-schooled environment who did not have to unlearn previous potentially inefficient ways of learning?

Would this depend on the design and delivery of MOOC and the target participants?  I don’t seem to see many un-schooled learners actively involved in a “formal” online course such as MOOC, though there might be some that I wasn’t aware of.   One could argue that they may be lurkers rather than active participants, likely due to the lack of skills or Critical Literacy in participating in MOOC.  There are simply too many assumptions here.

Another challenge is the stereo-typing of young learners who are really smart and talented, but are very active in social networking, on Facebook, Twitters, etc, and that they might find the traditional school settings too limited to their learning.  Some of these young learners might be highly creative, as could be revealed in the Youtube videos they produced, based on re-purposing and re-mixing, and would prefer active learning through actions such as production of videos or podcasts, slides, photos,  rather than being lectured, or spoon fed with information or knowledge, and thus asked to sit in tests or examinations to demonstrate their competency or capability.

Who would benefit most from MOOC?

I have shared some of my views on participation in MOOC here.

So, what and how would people (including un-schoolers) benefit from MOOC?

Stephen comments in the Daily:

George Siemens writes about “what’s wrong with (M)OOCs” and while he identifies some of the common criticisms – high drop out rates and declining participation, the need for technical skills, learners expressing their frustration at feeling disconnected and lost – I think that the main problem with them is that they are in fact courses, isolated islets in a sea of disconnected meaning. The people who are disconnected, unskilled and drop out are people who have spent their entire lives being given content on a platter to memorized, and we don’t do it that way.I think our approach is the right approach, but that it will take time to establish as something like the norm.

Jenny remarks in her What’s wrong with MOOC? Some thoughts

But within the traditional system of accreditation and validation there are considerable constraints on what we can achieve.   Anyone who is paying for a course – open or not – is going to have expectations of what they get for their money and that usually means, in my experience,  of the level of tutoring/facilitation they receive.

I agree with Jenny’s views, in particular that there are certain expectations from participants, especially when it relates to accreditation and value for “money” in a corporate world of education.

Is high drop out rates and declining participation a concern from an educational perspective? A resounding yes?

My questions are: Should MOOC be viewed as a course or an educational and learning experience instead?  Why? In a typical online course, the success is determined by a number of factors such as: (a) pass rates, (b) participation and engagement of participants (instructors & learners) in the course, (c) quality of learning, and (d) achievement of course or unit outcomes.  If we are to reflect on each of those criteria against MOOC, then we may find that:

(a) Pass or course completion rate: this is not relevant to MOOC (PLENK and CritLit), and there are no assessment components, and so the pass criteria is not applicable.

(b) Participation and engagement of participants: this may be part of the criteria in judging the “success” of MOOC.  However, participation and engagement could take many different forms – in open and or closed space, in the periphery (as lurkers) or at core (active engagement in blog postings and comments, or blogging communities) and forum discussion, Second Life discussion, Elluminate session discussion, and research, or under private emails discussion, message or chat conversation in different media spaces.  Would these all be captured under the PLENK2010 hashtags?

How and why participants participate and engage in these modes would unlikely be known.  Why?

Our current research indicated that only a very small portion of the participants (around 3 – 4%) would respond to a formal research in MOOC/PLENK.

Even with the learning analytics (via Google analytics, or other tools), only those conversations or engagement tagged with PLENK2010 would be captured. There are many other discussion and discourse that relate to MOOC – PLENK which are not under the radar of research and so we might need to develop alternative ways to account for such participation, interaction and engagement.

(c) Quality of learning: This relates to the value, expectations on teaching and learning, and meeting of the needs of the learners.  As PLENK relates to personal learning (though it also relates to how one associates his/her learning with others or network, and how and why such networks are created and developed), this could only be assessed most appropriately through individual assessment and reflection.  I would however think that some of the quality of learning could  be revealed through the research findings.

(d) Achievement of course or unit outcomes/performance: This could be a challenging one for MOOC, as the assessment criteria has to be based on individual’s set goals and outcomes, rather than a centrally pre-set course outcomes.  Could assessment be set aside in MOOC, so that assessment be done through a natural eportfolio approach?  These portfolio evidences may then be assessed by a third party or university as previously suggested by Stephen Downes via his various presentations.  This would relieve the networked learning constraints on personal autonomy in a MOOC (as shared by Jenny in her post What’s wrong with MOOC? Some thoughts ).

Should MOOC be a course or an uncourse?

In reflection, I think MOOC could be designed and delivered as a hybrid of course and uncourse – that it is a course for those who want to study with a structured format, with clear learning outcomes and objectives, specific course content and elements, and pre-determined assessment or performance criteria. MOOC could also be one where it is structured based on negotiated outcomes, without a set structure or stipulated course content, and without any rigid assessment or performance criteria.  With this in mind, MOOC could be viewed as an experiment, under a research and inquiry “paradigm” where participants are invited to explore together with the facilitators, to co-create a networked learning environment which stimulated creation and growth of knowledge in a connective manner.

Would there be confusion with such a hybrid format of Online Course?

How about the structuring of the course based on the structure/unstructured course?  These may include a number of consecutive events or projects (with timelines open to the needs of the participants), one – three days unconference, mentoring for newbies forum or group blogs, research based activities (group and or networks, focus groups), negotiated topics on wiki, Google Groups or networks, and structured mini courses with focussed current topic – (like journalism, wikipedia interest), and community or network of practice that relate to particular professions – HE, K-12 etc.  These could then be embedded into HE informal or formal accredited courses which articulate to higher qualifications – such as Postgraduate certificate, diploma, Masters or Doctors courses.

There are implications to such a hybrid course, which I would reflect later in the post in Part II.

George reinforces such research focus via MOOC in his latest post here. Research and inquiry breeds new seeds to MOOC and networked learning, which as he said could help in “exploring ways in which universities might be impacted by networked technologies, global trends, changing contexts, learner expectations, and west-to-east/north-to-south population and capital flows.” Would our MOOC networked experience be “evangelical”? As I shared in my post (see my comments), MOOC could be viewed as a tool, a platform, a “jumping board” upon which teaching and learning could be “blended” in a peer learning ecology, nuanced with juxtaposition when knowledge creation becomes the ultimate goal, and learners are the product of the learning process.

I will continue the sharing in Part II and III at a later time.


Postscript: Refer to this paper on Interaction in Online Courses: More is NOT Always Better on interaction.


Here is an interesting conversation in a book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz.

Our six-year-old son David felt mighty big when he was graduated from Kindergarten.  When asked what he plans to be when finishes growing up, “Dad, I want to be a Professor.”

“A Professor? A Professor of what?” Dad asked.

“Well, Dad,” he replied, “I think I want to be a Professor of Happiness.”

That’s a pretty wonderful ambition, don’t you think?

To me, easier said than done.  But to you, easier done than said. Action speaks louder 🙂

Happiness is a state of mind, right?  It is an inner feeling, and no one could “make you happy or unhappy” unless you agree to have such a feeling…

In this paper on Happiness:

Scitovsky (1992) and Lane (2000) propose that education and leisure time with friends and family will most efficiently increase individual happiness.

Promises of greater happiness in earthly existence were dismissed as overly simplified utopism. The current research on happiness allows empirical tests of this, and has shown that entire nations can become happier with economic growth and its covariates.

How far would people feel happy when they are immersed or engaged in social networks?  May be a lot happier, especially if they are engaged with trusted sources of Happiness! “Happiness tended to spread through close relationships like friends, siblings, spouses, and next-door neighbors, and the researchers reported that happiness spread more consistently than unhappiness through the network. Moreover, the structure of the social network appeared to have an impact on happiness, as people who were very central (with many friends and friends of friends) were significantly more likely to be happy than those on the periphery of the network.”

Be a Professor of Happiness and enjoy a Merry Christmas.

#PLENK2010 Connectivism, MOOC and PLENK

George in his post about connectivism asks for comments.  He says:

In some areas – such as when people ask “how is this different from social constructivism”- it appears that some view differences as trivial. In other areas – such as when people begin to contrast distributed knowledge and social learning networks in relation to the existing education system – it appears that differences are enormous.

George concludes:

….we break from our insistence of complicated explanations to complex phenomenon and collapse down to connections as the basic unit for understanding knowledge and the process of learning. The elements that impact connection-forming in the process of learning – such as emotions, pervious experience, and motivation – are not nodes within the connection clouds. Instead, they are enablers or influencing elements that impact whether or not a connection will form or the way in which that connection will resonate with the rest of the network.

I think George has conceptualized Connectivism based on the Cloud concept, and he has tried to detach the “emotional” and “cognitive” components from the nodes in order to understand if connections could be the basic framework upon learning and knowledge is built.  I applaud George’s imagination with such a great metaphor of connecting with the clouds in a foreign planet.

I think emotions, previous experience and motivations are all associated with the nodes (the people), and in many instances could be the result emerging from the interactions amongst the nodes.

My questions are: What would learning be like if the connections are deprived of emotions and affective components, in the creation or “construction” of knowledge amongst “human” and agents?  Connections could provide the conduit towards learning, but connections amongst nodes wouldn’t necessarily generate “new” knowledge. Isn’t it?  It’s the interpretation and perception amongst nodes (networkers) that could give rise to understanding of “distributed knowledge” under Connectivism.  Newly created knowledge is an emergent phenomena arising out of connective learning.

Is this sort of connective learning (with distributed knowledge) mediated principally by tools (based on technology affordance) or by people, or a combination of them in MOOC?

When I compare such views of learning under a Connectivism experiment with the concept of social constructivism as a learning theory here, I could identify some common themes: with lots of situations where learning by doing is what makes networked learning so attractive, especially via the web and social networks, and that to a certain extent, it has embraced the spirit of Constructivism (social networked learning).

Kirschner et al. (2006) describe why they group a series of seemingly disparate learning theories (Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based learning). The reasoning for this grouping is because each learning theory promotes the same constructivist teaching technique — “learning by doing.” While they argue “learning by doing” is useful for more knowledgeable learners, they argue this constructivist teaching technique is not useful for novices. Mayer states that it promotes behavioral activity too early in the learning process, when learners should be cognitively active (Mayer, 2004).[16]

Today’s proponents of discovery methods, who claim to draw their support from constructivist philosophy, are making inroads into educational practice. Yet a dispassionate review of the relevant research literature shows that discovery-based practice is not as effective as guided discovery.” (Mayer, 2004, p. 18)

Mayer’s point is that people often misuse constructivism to promote pure discovery-based teaching techniques. He proposes that the instructional design recommendations of constructivism are too often aimed at discovery-based practice (Mayer, 2004). Sweller (1988) found evidence that practice by novices during early schema acquisition, distracts these learners with unnecessary search-based activity, when the learner’s attention should be focused on understanding (acquiring schemas).

What is active participation in a MOOC under Connectivism?  Rita shares her views here.

If the majority of PLENKers think that their active participation, without the producing stage, is legitimate (and the empirical evidence that we collected so far clearly points in that direction) it might be that George has to eat his hat ;-), and reconsider his ideas, beliefs and feelings regarding what type of activity is required for learning on a course of this nature.  Current theories of learning show that activity is conductive to learning, but luckily they do not prescribe what type of activity this would have to be!

Isn’t that a matter of interpretation and “definition”? I think a lot of learning makes sense from the learners’ perspective, and that may not necessarily align with educators’ views or perspective.  Take for example, how people’s interpretation of the MOOC activities: conduction of researches, or the way how MOOC has been structured as mentioned by Rita:

The basis of MOOCs has always been four activities: 1. Actively aggregating, 2. Actively relating these aggregated resources to earlier experiences and knowledge, what Stephen Downes calls remixing,  3. Actively repurposing; producing a digital artifact with this mix of thoughts, and 4. An actively sharing stage.

What are the basis of these activities?  I have reflected on these activities and they could be classified under the lens of Constructivism, Social Constructivism, and Situation Learning. These activities are now blended with Connectivism, in order to reinforce the importance of connections that would link up all activities.  In some ways, these also relate to the Activity Theory Approach towards learning, in a normative and prescriptive approach in instructional design.

Activity theory theorizes that when individuals engage and interact with their environment, production of tools results. These tools are “exteriorized” forms of mental processes, and as these mental processes are manifested in tools, they become more readily accessible and communicable to other people, thereafter becoming useful for social interaction.[2]

About connectivism and PLENK, here is my metaphorical view.

Each of us could interpret connectivism differently, depending on your angles, your emotions, your context, and your attitudes towards connections, and networks, people.

Similarly, under a networked learning approach, where diversity of opinions are welcome in a MOOC, then tensions amongst different “voices” seem to be a natural emergence from the networks.  It is both healthy and necessary for the network, as this would allow for network growth, as suggested by Stephen.  This seems to be a natural opposite from the traditional “group” or “team”, or even the Community’s views where consensus and agreed goals are the norms rather than exception.

How do we know if diversity of opinions is the best way to learn under a networked learning ecology (or with internet)?

So, would that explain why research is important in MOOC?  Previous researches as shown above on Constructivism has hinted that novices might benefit more from guided discovery rather than self discovery, from an educational perspective, or the pedagogy.  Would Connectivism as revealed under MOOC tell a different story?

I am still working on the research, and so am still searching for a connective response to this basic question – what is learning from the learners’ perspective under Connectivism?

#PLENK2010 Short reflection on MOOC

Matt said in his confessions on MOOC: “To me, the advantage of taking a course is that you get to interact with the instructor or some other type of subject matter expert – and they are the ones that help you focus on what you need to be learning.” I could think in similar lines when it comes to teacher education, where students are normally looking for interaction with instructors and subject matter experts for learning.  Even I was educated in this mode of training throughout my previous postgraduate education and training courses.  So, such courses are fine for “teacher training” in classroom environments.  However, how often are we (you) being challenged by the teachers or subject experts? Probably, not much at all! Why?  My understanding is that most formal teacher training is about teaching techniques, strategies, but not much about peer-to-peer teaching or learning.  How to connect with ideas, and connect with others might be learnt through action learning, networking, and they probably can’t be “taught” even by experts, or knowledgeable others, IMHO.  Would that explain why we (Matt, and me too) find it so difficult to establish such connections with others in MOOC – PLENK?

One of the oriental education and teaching paradigms (from Confucius, from my memory) is: “Where there are three persons walking together, there will be a teacher for me”.  I found this paradigm quite significant in MOOC – CCK08, when I learned together with Jenny Mackness and Roy Williams on various occasions. We had then become close colleagues and friends and worked on the Research post CCK08, with papers co-written here and here and the development of our research wiki.  So, I think my learning wasn’t confined to the learning about the course content (of Connectivism, CritLit) itself.  Here is my teaching and learning in CCK08 and Knowledge of how people learn which mapped out what I perceived as learning in MOOC.  My learning has also been extended to the conversation and connections with those other experts and knowledgeable others who share similar interests and passions.  These included networks on Facebook and Twitters.

The alternative perspective on MOOC by Jim here referred to the dojo model for student organised learning.   To what extent would it be applicable in an online learning environment?  I think it requires a lot of self organised learning to work.

Stephen says in his OLDaily:

It’s about attitude and approach. If you’re looking for someone to tell you how it works, you will find a MOOC confusing and frustrating. But if you take responsibility for your own learning, you will find any connection in a MOOC either an opportunity to teach or an opportunity to learn. No instructions necessary.

I wish to reflect on what I think about MOOC, connectivism and PLENK (some learning out of these researches) after the years.  Here is my first reflection on CCK08 (on virtual flight)
(1) It is about learning around the edge of chaos in an adaptive complex system/ecology (personally and socially), between certainty and uncertainty (of information, of knowledge patterns), between complex and complicated (information, knowledge, patterns, scenarios, problems), between known and unknown, and networking and independent learning. Either way might lead to extreme “self personal views/knowledge” becoming “the world’s views/knowledge”.   I think networked learning is a balance between those views on knowledge – knowledge to have, to be, to being, and learning to have, to be, to being amongst nodes of network which accounted for “networked learning”.

(2) Online networked learning involves a paradigm shift in “thinking” and “learning” that is non-linear and often mediated by the technology, tools and actors. This “pattern” of learning seems to align more  initially with that of toddlers’ learning (the social constructivism where games and play – do help in the construction of certain knowledge domains” but then would gradually align with a connectivist approach, as it goes beyond the “definition” of knowledge and learning, as such knowledge and learning becomes natural part of the day-to-day conversation, interaction, (engagement in activities that are based on the interests of the actors), self-initiated (not governed), autonomous and self-chosen connections, without boundary on the “knowledge domain”.  It may be hyper linked to various websites and artefacts,  and are often virtual or online space-driven, and could be multi-focus, and multi-directional.  Surfing over such information highway would require the aggregation of ideas and information in the networks, collect those distribution information which may be of interest to us, through RSS or hashtags, or aggregation tools.  It could further be curated, refined by the nodes through reviews, amplification and damping, leaving the “residues” as emergent knowledge concepts, and so actions as emergent learning within the networks and amongst the networkers.

(3) Networked knowledge and Learning could be both structured and un-structured, which is really a matter of personal experience and preference. For those who are accustomed to structured online learning, MOOC could be a huge challenge, as it is “designed” to simulate the real world wide web, and the various features of “hyper linked” cyber and online world, which is based on un-or ill-structured webs (though the webs are structured, but they are not perfectly linked to each other in a structured way), and even such links are in a continuous flux, due to the changes in the inter-connections.  This gives rise to complicated/complex ontology which has no defined structure, or even pattern. These sort of informal learning pattern may not be consistent with the institution and corporate world of “structured formal” learning and education.  As revealed in this article about Complexity Theory and Education, it is difficult to leverage complexity theory in formal education and learning.

(4) Networked knowledge and learning provides a new “fashion” for people to try and test out, which sounds quite fascinating. It could be the “new rare alloys rush – not just gold mine rush” where actors, researchers, scholars and educators all want to have a dip. The recent learning analytics (research/data mining through internet and collective/connective intelligence” is just a revelation of what such “advanced emergent information and knowledge” might entail.
(5) Relating to the Legitimate Peripheral Participation and active participation, I would like to refer to Ferreday and Hodgson’s’ views about participation in online courses:
We suggest that instead of expecting or pursuing participation as a kind of utopian ideal, a less tyrannical alternative is to anticipate that participation will be disruptive and encompass difference and variety, in a way that reflects a heterotopian rather than utopian view of participation.
So, I think participation in MOOC should reflect the designed spirit of networked learning, that it could accommodate for the needs of different learners, leading to the true spirit of community where diversity of opinions are encouraged, and valued,  and ideas are debated, reflected and critiqued.
Isn’t that the spirit of community and network discourse and learning?

My reflection on MOOC will be ongoing……still more to come.


#PLENK2010 Academic Achievement, Personalization of Education and Learning

Academic achievements have become the headlines in many blogs and news. Here  on New York Times Education

The results also appeared to reflect the culture of education there, including greater emphasis on teacher training and more time spent on studying rather than extracurricular activities like sports.

Mr. Finn, who has visited schools all across China, said, “I’ve seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and in 50 cities by 2029.”

Does this surprise you?

Here in Interpreting international comparisons in academic achievement, Tony says:

My view is that Asian students are probably pushed harder by both parents and the school system than many students in Western countries. They do better because they work harder at what the school requires them to do. What PISA does not attempt to measure is breadth of learning, or whether students who score very highly on standardized tests have the range of other skills such as sport, social and artistic, that are not measured by the OECD.

Could we measure other skills such as sport, social and artistic in an objective way? May be for the same group of students of the same school, based on similar curriculum.  Are the schools in Asian countries teaching with the same or similar curriculum in sport, social and arts in Western countries? Also, there are students having different talents and skills, and so students who score very highly on standardized tests (or those who perform with excellence in academic subjects) don’t necessarily have the same range of other skills such as sport, social and artistic.

I think there are some truths about some Asian students working hard at school. Do they do better because they work harder at what the school requires them to do?  In this high test score, low ability, there are concerns about students working hard to achieve high test score, but have low ability.

Students, parents, teachers, school leaders and even local government officials all work together to get good scores. From a very young age, children are relieved of any other burden or deprived of opportunity to do anything else so they can focus on getting good scores.

The result is that Chinese college graduates often have high scores but low ability. Those who are good at taking tests go to college, which also emphasizes book knowledge.

So, what can “we” do to lift up the standards of education and learning, for learners to achieve high score and high ability?

Steve Wheeler shares in his post on personal or universal education the importance of personalization of education and creativity.

Heppell points out that creativity could be encouraged and personal learning achieved through the use of handheld technologies such as mobile phones. When they use these tools, he says, children are in their element. When they walk into the classroom, they are told to switch off all devices, and in doing so, the school switches off the child too.

I agree with the personalization of education and think that is especially important for Higher and Adult Education.  Also,  creativity is important in learning, and I have shared that understanding in my previous posts.

I would like to respond to Steve’s post with mine here where I commented:

Under an institutional learning environment, mandatory grading (i.e. part of the outcome of learning) in most educational systems diminishes the prospect of a risk free environment (Anderson, 2008). Thus a student would likely learn through the teachers’ recommended resources and information provided through the lectures or tutorials, as it is likely that any assessments are derived from such sources of information. Thus, when the teacher provides information, the teacher will then be exercising power and control over the student. The premise, then, that education can be neutral and non-value laden with a knowledgeable teacher, becomes a paradox. Personal learning, on the other hand could mean that the learner now is empowered to assume part of the role of the educator, where s/he takes up all the responsibility of learning, using PLE/N to sensemake and wayfind independently or interdependently with others in networks. I had experienced such journey after finishing formal university education, where I conceptualised that “authentic and pragmatic education” started with the social university (i.e. the community and networks) that I am immersed in, supported with numerous artifacts and resources that is all under my control, enabling me to become a truly autonomous learner.

To me, it is never easy to have a fully personalized education based on a mass education model, unless the education system is re-structured to cater and accommodate for the personal learning network/environment into education and learning.

So, how about mobile learning?  In this towards a theory of mobile learning

To be of value, a theory of learning must be based on contemporary accounts of practices that enable successful learning. The US National Research Council produced a synthesis of research into educational effectiveness across ages and subject areas (National Research Council, 1999). It concluded that effective learning is:

− learner centred: It builds on the skills and knowledge of students, enabling them to reason from their own experience;

− knowledge centred: The curriculum is built from sound foundation of validated knowledge, taught efficiently and with inventive use of concepts and methods;

− assessment centred: Assessment is matched to the ability of the learners, offering diagnosis and formative guidance that builds on success;

− community centred: Successful learners form a mutually promotive community, sharing knowledge and supporting less able students.

In A Theory of learning for the mobile age the authors continue:

These findings broadly match a social-constructivist approach, which views learning as an active process of building knowledge and skills through practice within a supportive group or community (for an overview, see Kim, 2000). Learning involves not only a process of continual personal development and enrichment, but also the possibility of rapid and radical conceptual change (see Davis, 2001).

To summarise, we suggest that a theory of mobile learning must be tested against the following criteria:

• is it significantly different from current theories of classroom, workplace or lifelong learning?

• does it account for the mobility of learners?

• does it cover both formal and informal learning?

• does it theorise learning as a constructive and social process?

• does it analyse learning as a personal and situated activity mediated by technology?

The authors suggest: learning as conversation under such a theory.

“The teacher is no longer merely the one-who-knows, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow. (Freire, 1996, p. 61)”

To what extent is this applicable in education – K-12 and Higher and Adult Education? Yes, learning can be achieved through conversation, but how about its impact on the academic achievement of students?  Does higher learning lead to higher academic achievement?  In theory, yes, in a networked environment, but how about that in a school environment?

The elearning 2.0 below summarises some of the trends and merits of online and networked learning.  So would academic performance be perceived and measured under a social and networked learning environment?  Not yet!  These sort of learning environment is gaining momentum in Higher and Adult Education, but still at a very early stage when it comes to K-12 education. Why?

The networked learning model as discussed here by Wendy Drexler provides some good examples on how some of the high schools students could be “taught” in the use of Web2.0 tools.  However this way of networked “formal” learning is still under experimentation.

So what is personalized education?

Stephen in his post here on Open education says:

That our role, as a wider society, ought not to be to shower free resources upon people, in the hope of somehow lifting them up and may be enlightening them, and certainty of creating lifelong customers, but rather in the fostering of a social, legal and cultural climate where people are empowered and encouraged to create and share artifacts of their own learning.

So, personalized education could mean education empowerment, where individual learners are encouraged and supported to create and share artifacts which help themselves in learning, rather than being spoon fed by teachers or by the OER (Open Education Resources) in learning.   This could be a fundamental shift from teaching to learning.

The challenge to this way of open personalized education and learning is:

Are the learners

– equipped with the skills and literacy to create artifacts?

– motivated to create and share artifacts?

– assessed based on the creation and sharing of artifacts under a formal education system?

– encouraged to use different forms of elearning including mobile learning?

My questions are:

– What is the purpose of education at this digital age?

– Are we aiming for public mass education or personalized education and learning in our institutions?

– What assumptions have we made about learners in personalized education?

– What are their motivations towards personalized education?

– What are the expectations of the employers on these personalized learners (as a result of personalized education)?

Postscript: Enjoy this post on Web 2.0 and the future of K-12 education.

#PLENK2010 PLENK and Personal Learning

I greatly appreciate Rodd’s insights into this collective learning networks and PLE/N and Dave points out the differences between PLE and PLN.

Is the term Personal Learning Network as slightly ‘oxymoronic’?  Are we being changed by the networks and also trying to change the networks in the process of learning in social networks?  What I mean is learning as a result of changing with oneself and the networks that one is interacting with through technology, tools or social media – the learning in action, and learning to be in an online and face to face learning world.  I do see PLN and collaborative learning network as two sides of the same coin, especially if it is under the lens of Connectivism.

Under Connectivism, learning occurs at the neuro, conceptual and social/external level.  So as learning refers to the navigation and traverse of networks (both personal and social networks), at a cognitive and social level, then it’s the continuous connections, engagements and interaction with those networks by individuals which would enable the growth of knowledge and learning on a personal and network level within us.

How about?