What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC?

Thanks Frances for bringing this to the table through her post on Orienting to MOOC. Glad also to learn about Jeffrey, Jenny, Matthias, Markuos and Heli’s views.  Stephen mentions in comments here:

MOOCs and the connectivist approach to learning, as I have argued elsewhere, is by contrast ‘cooperative’. There is no presumption of unity, order, shared goals or coherence. There’s no sense of being ‘in the group’ or its opposite. If teams or groups form, they are tangential to the course, and not the core or essence of it.

So, if you are discussing ‘Collaborative Open Online Learning’, you are not discussing MOOCs. Perhaps you are discussing things like WikiEducator or OERu, where everybody is pulling the same way. I don’t know.

Stephen has also elaborated on collaboration and cooperation here. I had composed a response post here.

Collaboration versus cooperation is nuanced to me.  I could see the difference between the two, especially when learning through MOOC and with others, when “we” actively converse with each others through different channels in MOOC.  It seems that some participants were cooperating for most of the time, though a few participants might collaborate in small groups or teams to work on specific tasks – on research, or wiki, or the MOOCast.  It is therefore important to distinguish between individual learning, networked learning and group learning, as a way of learning over the internet and webs.  The table here – From Cooperation to Collaboration summarizes it well.

There have been tensions in between group and teams learning requiring collaborative participation and individuals learning in a network based principally on PLN/PLE, as revealed in many researches throughout the past, mainly because of the perception of collaborative participation in an online education, where there were also differences in the team’s goals and individual learner’s goals:

“Some of the darker sides of collaborative participation which in its extreme manifestations can be experienced as normative and, we suggest, as a form of tyranny of the dominant and which instead of having a liberating effect, reinforces a form of oppression and control.”

In the case of MOOC networked learning, as pointed out by Clay Shirky here: “Not everyone can participate in every conversation.  Not everyone gets to be heard.” This also relates to the power associated with networks, where power distribution is often uneven, often following a long tail phenomena, even if it is under a small group learning in the networks.

Photo: Google?

These were also reflected throughout the CCKs and MOOCs, where individuals set their own paths of learning using networks, without necessarily sharing any unity, order, or shared goals, within those networks or organizations.  Bloggers just focused on self-reflecting using their blogs and sharing through their PLN (Twitter) or aggregating or curating their collectives (Delicious, Scoop.it or Paper.li, Google Reader) etc.  Learning through such thinking it ALOUD, with reflexive learning is more common to the participation of forum discussion and sharing in the more recent MOOCs.  So, does it reflect the cooperative rather than the collaborative nature of networked learning?

Some participants of MOOC viewed MOOC as a collaborative platform where Cathy says: “This course will allow us the opportunity to collaborate together and experience first hand this new way to learn.”  There may still be many interpretations about the diverse nature of networked learning, based on MOOC experience.

When it comes to changes in formal and informal learning, we may need to think about the pedagogy involved, where there may also be a shift from collaborative learning in institutions to cooperative learning in networks.  There may also be a shift from cooperative learning in networks to collaborative learning in institutions when MOOC is formally institutionalized and accreditated in institutions.  Does it address the difference between cooperation and collaboration learning in the networks/groups?


Brian Christens & Paul W. Speer.  Tyranny/ Transformation: Power and Paradox in Participatory Development

Debra Ferreday and Vivien Hodgson. The Tyranny of Participation and Collaboration in Networked Learning



13 thoughts on “What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC?

  1. Pingback: What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC? | Connectivism and Networked Learning | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC? | Creative Education, Learning, Technology and Change | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC? | Change11 | Scoop.it

  4. There are many ways to look at cooperation and collaboration John, thanks for bringing all of these things together. I’m not sure that it matters much just so long as you’re happy with your definition. What’s more pressing however is how you take these conversational technologies, which allow us to conceptualise both the learner and the community differently, and use them to educate. I’ve just been watching David Wiley speak, and according to him there is no education without openness. What these technologies allow us to do is to share with each other in a limitless way.

  5. Thanks Brett for your comments. “In accordance to David Wiley, there is no education without openness.” Will there still be education without openness? It seems that lots of education are run without openness around the globe. There has been a trend in the privatization of education, and that education is often viewed as a business commodity. Cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders could be constrained under the privatization and commodity protocol. There are certain business protocols which might lock the door of openness, including the imposition of copyright of teaching resources, publications and an infringement of rights and benefits if parties concerned disclose or share private resources to the public without consent. What is the ideal and reality of openness in education? Yes technologies will allow us to do and share with each other in a limitless way, provided that such sharing are not constrained by the “closeness” of copyright, or an intrusion of privacy, in education.

  6. Pingback: What does it mean to cooperate and or collaborate in #Change11 MOOC? | NTICs en Educación | Scoop.it

  7. I have very little knowledge about copyright law, publishing or business. What I do know is that I love learning, and sharing what I know. If I can encourage people to share what they know, so that others may have the opportunities that I have had, then I will have achieved something useful.

    Idealistic? Yes. Can it be done within the constraints of the current educational paradigm? Probably not in a sustainable way. Does it mean we shouldn’t conceive of education in a different way?

  8. Hi Brett, I share your passion, in the love of learning. Sure, you have achieved something useful by role modelling the altruistic sharing of knowledge and encouraging others to share their knowledge. We should conceive of education in a different way, and that is how each of our small contribution in sharing would likely change the world. Any thoughts on other ways of conceiving education?

  9. Thanks for the post. I was interested that you used 2 refs that looked at power differences in collaboration/ cooperation. Power relations exist in all forms of human association and we need to be reflexive and to surface them to avoid their worst outcomes. I have been thinking a lot about the need to trace our own journeys of thinking and learning – blogs should be a good vehicle for that.

  10. Thanks Frances for commenting and I resonate with your wonderful insights: we need to be reflexive and to surface “power relations”, and avoid their worst outcomes. I also share that blog could provide a unique individual learning space for one to reflect and learn where “the potential of Networked Learning to offer the opportunity for critical reflectivity leading to seeing things differently and acting differently” John

  11. Pingback: Cooperation and Collaboration with OER #Change11 « markusmind

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