#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.


10 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 Short reflection on MOOC

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention #PLENK2010 Short reflection on MOOC | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi John – as a teacher by training, I can say that I was quite often challenged by my instructors in most teacher training course, both under grad and grad level. They were just well designed courses. I was also taught how to “connect with ideas, and connect with others” in those courses. I actually don’t have a problem with connecting with people – that is actually probably the basis of my argument: “why do you need a MOOC when you already have a PLN?” I already know how to find people to network with, and I do it all the time. The MOOC seems redundant when you already know that. I also already know how to set my own goals as a learner. I would only join a class when I need some external parameters because I am not sure what to do. When Stephen Downes says that about attidue and approach, I have to disagree. I don’t think learning is so simplified. I think you need both: you need someone to tell you what to learn, and you need to take responsibility for your own learning. If it is either/or, you will never get the full benefits of learning. If someone is just telling you what to learn, you will never think for yourself. But if you take on full responsibility for your learning without any kind of instructor or subject matter expert giving you direct feedback, you could (and probably will) get really off track and incorrect from time to time. You need the SME/teacher to guide you and help you when you get off track, lost, or just confused.

  3. Hi John,
    Thank you for sharing your personal reflection on PLENK2010.
    I do not know what your personal socialization in higher education involved. Clearly, your socialization as revealed in this post was very different from my personal socialization and enculturation–as a student and as a teacher. Socialization and enculturation are happening things–they change along with other changes in life, work, society, and science. There are continuities over time. For certain, I have been a self-organizing human being since my birth, and this is how I have proceeded through life. As importantly, I have sought out the socialization and enculturation that enables me to continue to learn, to understand, to come to know. In addition, there is always negotiation, sharing, and developing practices and knowledge with others. For example, I grew up in a community where decisions about schooling were made at town meetings and the philosophy of education was that curriculum was indeed negotiated by learners, teachers and other stakeholders. In the way back machine, I remember going before the school committee and arguing successfully to offer college bound students a “living language” in addition to the “dead languages” of Latin and Greek. (I was an adolescent when I made the case in terms of the living and the dead. I did not have adequate appreciation or knowledge of how language(s) evolve and/or influence practice.) Again in the way back machine, I remember working with colleagues and teachers and even members of the larger community on authentic inquiry, research, and service projects when I was in elementary school, secondary school, college, and as a teacher for nearly twenty years and as a teacher educators. It is through participation in situated environments and through collaboration with others that we learn in most every day situations. I totally understood and agreed with Lave and Wenger’s discussion of the ecology of informal learning in everyday life. It spoke to my experience growing up and throughout my career. It was Wenger’s perspective on communities of practice and learning for a small planet that catapulted me into needing and wanting to learn within the network that was operating out of Canada. It was George Seimen’s hypothesizing about how learning occurs in online situations and my own thinking that led me to join you and the many others in CCK08, CCK09, CritLit, and PLENK. So you see, for me, this has been a wonderful opportunity to engage in learning, coming to know, and using new technologies to connect, collaborate, and come to know with both the professors and with people. You have been very generous in keeping me connected with your personal learning and knowledge building. We never left a trace of interacting within the MOOC, not as far as I can recall. I know that I read your posts there and I followed the links to your blog. I read the Daily and followed the links to content, some of which was your various posts in Twittter, Facebook, etc. I followed a lot of the links, for a whole variety of reasons and I shared information with a variety of audiences in networks that go well beyond the MOOC or the course.
    Your reflections on learning in the MOOC represent a reflection on your experience today…. Here are some of my reflections today…
    1. Life is improvisation, so learning for life always involves imagination, speculation, and openness. Our reflections are encoded in episodic memories and stored as symbols–images, texts, or strings as xxxsand000x.
    2. To be alive is to be constantly evolving. Networks form, reform, and evolve over time. We use the tools that are available at the time to encode and preserve our memories and to test our hypotheses.
    3. People philosophize about the meaning of life. We have historic texts that preserve the record of change in frameworks for sense-making over time, and those records are profoundly influenced by our socialization and enculturation experiences and the opportunities we create to learn, come to know, identify and interrogate prejudices, etc. over the course of our life. We learn from the company we keep, whether or not we share the same socialization and enculturation experiences and whether or not we agree with them, or not.
    4. Participation is as participation does. The blog enables you to write down your thoughts. Because we have both engaged in inquiry and research into informal learning in this particular online network over time, we are able to construct a conversation. My end of this conversation occurs in “SuiFaiJohn Mac’s blog. It may or may not assist you in your personal learning or knowledge. In other words, it may be peripheral to your learning and knowledge-building. How do you know whether or not this ongoing conversation has influenced my learning or my knowledge building? Why would anyone care? It is hard to argue with the idea that a diversity of perspectives is essential to ongoing dialogue.
    Think of this, without a problem, there is no story.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reflect with you on your blog about your reflection on the MOOC.
    It would be impossible to reconstruct all of that even if you were able to trace my keystrokes. While one may “have no visible presence” on the web, that does not mean that one is not “present” or that one has no “presence.” In online environments, and in life, people tend to know more than they share, but that does not mean that they do not know or do not find ways of investigating, evaluating, and or incorporating new ideas and information and that certainly does not mean that they do not share what they are learning or contribute to knowledge-building networks or communities of practice.

    I feel very comfortable with Stephen Downes perspective on respecting an individual’s choice of ways to participate in networks. From what I have discerned based on participation in the courses, I know that Stephen’s enculturation and socialization are very different from mine. Stephen is clear about his position as a co-investigator, and he is thorough in his approach to research. My background differs from his, as is my position on many issues, as is my approach to inquiry and research. I can learn from him. I never would have read the book on Information that I recommended to you last week if I had not taken CritLit and realized that while I know a lot about linguistics, I did not know about the concepts in the same way that Stephen was discussing them. Who doesn’t learn from and with others?

    One learns in life and online. In any case, the learner develops the syllabus. Why not listen to others, ask questions to clarify confusions, inquire and conduct research, sustain a disciplined focus and cultivate relationships over time? Why are we in such a hurry to label behavior? Perhaps the labels, which are used to categorize behavior serve as temporary structures for scaffolding knowledge building, but in the long run, don’t these labels get in the way of understanding how people actually learn in informal and online networks?
    How can we capture a better understanding of the disciplined approach to inquiry and research and the relationships that lead to deep understanding, self-critique, social transformation, or substantive knowledge building?

    Who owns the learning and the knowledge on a blog or in a MOOC?

    Just some random thoughts…

  4. Hi John,
    I posted my comments on my page in Facebook, but they disappeared. Hmm…That does not sound right.

  5. @Matt,
    Thanks for your valuable insights.
    I could understand your views on education, in that education is like putting together jigsaw puzzles http://www.mattcrosslin.com/?page_id=9
    You have concluded that your educational philosophy stems from a social constructionist pedagogy. So, I am totally with you in your view: “why do you need a MOOC when you already have a PLN?” I already know how to find people to network with, and I do it all the time.”

    In fact, most of us as educators would have our own PLN, and our face to face actual social or educational networks.
    So, what further value would the MOOC – PLENK offer if you have already got your PLN?
    Would it be the (local and international) conversations that one has, not only with the experts, but with many other educators and learners across many nations, and corners of the world?

    I understand that learning with experts through their instruction may help me in advancing my “knowledge” to some extent. However, would that be based on an instructivist approach, where learners (me) are “waiting to be instructed” by the instructors for further learning? This is great for University teaching and learning, but what happens if the professors are no longer with you, once you graduated? Aren’t we all need to become autonomous learners, as I have explained in another post.
    So, I am sure that if I learn with my learners (or community/networks), I could gain a better understanding about how they learn, and what I could learn from them. Such learning and interaction is often more valuable than the mere teaching theory or pedagogies, where educators were “told” or “challenged” by their “professors” or experts in their teachers’ training.

    When we become a fully autonomous learner (educator and learner all in one), we would decide what might be of the greatest value to us, by responding to others’ calls or feedback, or by engaging and interacting with others in the community. So, in that respect, MOOC is just another tool, platform or “jumping board” for us to get connected and to start our “discourse”. Do “we” need further instructions from others if that is the case? May be if we want to be assessed as competent, or as an expert by our professors, then we might need to gather evidence to show such capability. Eportfolios might be required from us if we want to get a qualification.
    However, as you shared, if you are already a master in the area of PLENK, then what further instructions would be necessary for you? May be none.
    Or you might like to share your learning stories?
    To those “novices” in MOOC in PLENK, what sort of further instructions are required? Would this be an interesting area to research on?


  6. Pingback: Lurking, liking, learning martial arts and learning online | escapingeggshells

  7. Pingback: #PLENK2010 MOOC Reflection Part I | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

  8. Pingback: #PLENK2010 Short reflection on MOOC | Connectivism and Networked Learning | Scoop.it

  9. Pingback: #PLENK2010 Short reflection on MOOC | Creative Education, Learning, Technology and Change | Scoop.it

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