#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.

John

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

2 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 MOOC Reflection Part I

  1. Here is my comment on Jose post:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights and experience. I think you have summarised the key aspects of MOOC, in particular the need of learning design and support. “It’s different from learning in a network, which is more organic and dynamic – you are guided by your interests and needs (you have a focus) and develop connections according to them.” Would learning in MOOC be organic and dynamic too? The massive part in an OOC presented challenges for both facilitators and participants, but it is also a critical element which makes MOOC unique in the provision of learning opportunities, accentuated with diversity of perspectives from participants and knowledgeable others. Time (including individual time management) and motivation as you said may be another important factor that could impact on MOOC.

  2. Pingback: #PLENK2010 MOOC Reflection Part I | Connectivism and Networked Learning | Scoop.it

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