Interesting comment by LTA Burble on this blog about distance learning and connectivism. Thanks to Ken for the reference.
I have just read Jenny’s comments there: “There seems to be a natural tendency for most people to seek out groups and communities. The danger of this is of course ‘group think’, which courses based on connectivism principles are trying to avoid. Courses based on connectivism principles are also seeking to promote autonomy – so I suppose the thinking is don’t expect the convenors to provide things – go out and organise them yourselves.
From a teaching perspective the tension between teaching and learning roles in MOOCs is difficult to resolve. I am still trying to sort it out in my own head.”
I would like to reflect on Jenny’s views with our past research on CCK08 and my current research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC – PLENK. Every time when we have a CCK course, some of the participants seemed to expect a community to emerge, as revealed from the observations and research. However, some respondents didn’t seem to see that has happened. Has the community emerged? From what I have learnt from Ailsa and Frances’ presentation on Networking Power and Authority and follow up comments from them and some others, CCK seemed to “function” more at a network level rather than at a community level.
Participants were more likely to cooperate in sharing information and links, creating and producing artefacts individually in the networks. There were a few collaborative projects and research done throughout the courses, but then these were based on small groups collaboration, rather than a community approach with common goals or mission. So, team working in CCK could be very challenging, as many participants have their own goals, aspirations and expectations which are different from others.
“Blog posts tend to be more of a reflective type with some comments from other participants while the forum draws people more quickly into a discussion.” So, if a diversity of opinions is desirable, then forum might serve well as a collaborative platform for discourse. Blogs on the other hand would serve better for personal reflections on a particular topic of interest or theme where the blogger could set the pace. So any subsequent comments from other participants in response to the blogger would have to focus and follow the theme. This could facilitate “small group” discussion, cooperation and collaboration, but may be limited to the sharing of ideas of “similar or like minds”, and moderation by the bloggers could filter out any strong opposite ideas or opinions, or those views which sound sarcastic or offensive. Would that create the so-called echo chambers? Bloggers would likely resonate with other bloggers, and have their mutual respect and appreciation of inquiry rewarded with positive comments and feedback. That is the merit of blogging. There is however, still a possibility of pontification and ranting in blogging, which may not appeal to all learners.
Will the lone ranger (blogger) meandering in the wilderness of blogosphere be assessed under an institutional learning environment?
Here about using blogs in graduate studies, “If learning is to be a process of inquiry, then it must focus on questions, not just on answers”(Garrison & Vaughan, 2008, p.15). Classroom-generated questions can direct student action and inquiry outside of the classroom and questions generated in the online space can bring students back to the classroom for face-to-face clarifications and guidance.
Did participants learn in “small groups” within diverse networks in CCKs? We have formed a Ning Network/Community in the past years right after CCK08, only that when Ning became a fee for service platform, the whole Network/Community of ConnectivismEdcuationLearning had to move over to Facebook to continue with the conversation and sharing. We had a mix of new and old CCK participants and experts/educators in FB, where people could continue to connect with each others that fit their needs.
The challenge in offering maximum autonomy, openness, diversity and connectivity (as Stephen has emphasized to be the most important property of a great and sustainable network) in a Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Course or MOOC is that a course does require group work for further collaboration, and thus develop group learning and collaboration skills. Discourse and interaction won’t happen that easily if course participants are too dispersed over different spaces.
That’s why Elluminate session with facilitators and guest speakers had become wonderful meeting place for listening to presentation (somewhat similar to attending an online class), and having some chat discussion. In this way the “adhoc” group in the session would then be able to have a better understanding of the topics presented, and could clarify with the facilitators and guest speakers or discuss and chat with participants in the session. Such engagement and interaction would then become the backbone of further collaboration. However, past records of Elluminate attendance revealed that less than 10% of the registered participants in the course would attend such sessions normally, due to various reasons. Many participants however reported that they listened to the recorded session instead. There are significant values in having such Live Synchronous sessions in MOOC.
The lack of a central place (forum as the market place metaphor) however would also lead participants to set up their own learning spaces, which may not be attractive for others to join in, due to complicated reasons. These could include openness, trust, motivation, personal preferences.
I don’t seem to find FB could replace that of the Moodle Forum, probably because FB has been designed for a different purpose – for socializing and personal posting or profiling. Besides, sharing of ideas and information could more easily be attained with the use of Twitter, where a Hashtag of CCK11 or MOOC would link participants who are interested in the topics to explore further with artefacts or news.
The course “forum” based on the gRSShopper with discussion may fulfill some of the Forum’ s function, but then I don’t see many participants entering into the discussion. Would these lead to fragmentation of groups, and thus limiting diversity, and connectivity amongst the participants? Besides, although we have the aggregated blog posting, it is still difficult to trace.
This may also account for a drop in attendance in CCK11, and that may be due to the lowering of interest for participants to share a “common theme” in MOOC – CCK11.
I have also reflected on the factors that might affect the participation, interaction and contribution to MOOC – PLENK.
What may be the alternative options of interacting and participating in MOOC? Emergent learning practices could take various forms – digital story telling (see this paper on digital story telling and this blog on digital story telling ) and sharing, participating or contributing using Livestream, Livebinders, wiki - Wiki How Community or Wikieducator, projects, collaborative projects K-12, collaborative emergent sessions, unconference, live chats, Skype conversation, collaborative groups, resources etc.
As shared by Jenny in her post –
“Emergent Learning presentation (PPT) You will see that there is not a lot in it. We tried to plan the session to allow for emergent learning
The chat room transcript is here Emergent Learning Webinar Chat Transcript
Emergent Learning where learning is self organizing seems to enhance connectivity, encourage diversity, reinforce autonomy, and allow for openness, in networked and emergent learning. Here learners would become educators as they share their learning in a peer-to-peer emergent learning “ecology”, and there is where affordance could be manifested.
An affordance is the product of interactions between a person and their environment, each of which potentially alters their knowledge, competencies and identity, and potentially alters the (micro-) environment… Learning is the process of exploring, benchmarking and mastering new affordances (Williams et.al. 2008)
There is still a question here: How is learning situated in education?
Emergent model as suggested here by Fred Garnett shows the interests of education institutions and the learners.
In this paper the authors suggested that the benefits of using technologies should be considered in relation to their cost or added value. If they provide a distinct added value in various learning/teaching practices, their implementation might be justified, even if they are more expensive as compared to existing technologies and practices but if the findings of studies point to a “zero sum effect” compared to traditional practices, then their applications are justified only if they provide economies-of-scale.
They should be implemented only if they prove to be better or cheaper.
Does it mean that if the new or emergent technology is proven to be more expensive than existing technologies and practices, then their applications are not justified? Whose interests would this cost be? The institution or the learner? For the learners like each of us, what would be our primary interests? Learning? But who is providing such learning? How would such learning be best provided? Education? Networks?
Should we teach? Or should we better facilitate as educators in networks and classroom?
Would the message be? If you could learn better by being taught, or being facilitated, then do try. If you could learn better by yourself through networks, do try, and see what the results are. You are the experimenter, and you are the one who could judge your own success. The educational institution is there to support us (the learners) to achieve our goals. It is the bridge for each of us to cross and reach the social ecologies.
Source: from Web O’Wonder
Refer to role of the educator here by Stephen.
I am pondering if autonomy, group (community, teams, etc.) versus networks, power issues would be the most important factors determining the success of MOOC.
May be we have started to learn even when we were in our mum’s womb! Who would be in control of that learning? That is: Mum Open Online Connection