#Change11 Pedagogy, Mobile Learning and Assessment in MOOC

Should pedagogy come first?

We are going to have an education system (VET) here in Australia where the learners decide what, who, when, where, how and why they are learning. So, it is no longer just about pedagogy or technology first, it is about growing & developing the learner FIRST, so he or she would have self efficacy, autonomy & thus become a valuable networker, community member, and global citizen, adapting & shaping the network/community and even the world as a vision. Think global, act local, and contribute socially…

Wall Paper

So, it is Pedagogy towards Andragogy and self-directed learning, then heutagogy.  But what goes beyond heutagogy?  Will it be Connectivism? Networked Learning? Creative Learning?

In reflection of what has been discussed in this week’s mobile learning via Jenny’s post and Dr Zoraini’s paper on Design and Implementation of Mobile Learning at Open University Malaysia, there seems to be a significant movement in the widespread use of mobile phones (and devices) by learners.  I have noted the use of mobile phones for short message in SMS, or uploading of Twitter messages or posting on Facebook.

Here Jenny says:

But most interesting for me in this session was that it sparked a question in the chat room as to whether this form of mobile learning, where the principle form of communication is unidirectional SMS from tutor to student, encourages student dependence, learned helplessness and decreases the potential for learner autonomy.

Zoraini’s response was quick and unhesitating. She said that SMS is used to help students develop the habits and skills necessary to be effective distance learners.

I don’t know what the implications are when SMS are directed from tutors to students, as I have often received SMS reminding me of some development sessions.  To me, it sounds similar to a reminder message from someone out in the virtual space.  How would this help students develop habits and skills?

Dr Zoraini and her colleagues concluded that SMS tutoring was well received by learners.  However, here is a response by Louise sharing some of her skepticism on the effectiveness of mobile learning in the case study. This leaves me with the question: What sort of pedagogy fits into this mode of delivery?  Would it be blended education delivery based on teachers’ instructions with mobile technology?  May be this fits well into an Asian teaching schools approach in the university, where pedagogy comes first, based on teacher’s instructions.

In this mobile learning paper, effective learning is:

Learner centred

Knowledge centred

Assessment centred

Community centred

A Theory of Mobile Learning must take into account of the ubiquitous use of personal and shared technology.

These findings broadly match the social-constructivist approach.

How about effective learning from a connectivist approach in a MOOC?  I don’t think effective learning is always assessment centred, especially in informal learning, and so this leaves us with the question of: What is the role of assessment in informal learning?

Is assessment always necessary in learning (in particular informal learning or social learning)? Can people learn effectively without being assessed?  May be not, under a formal education system.  But if we argue that it is growth of a person as a product of learning (refer to Stephen’s slides on Connectivism), and based on Connectivism and transculturality, then the assessment would be embedded in the “growth of knowledge, skills and competency”, which could be reflected in the performance in study or that at work, and that comes naturally also in network conversation.

This could be a crucial question relating to the effectiveness of MOOC in learning.  Our past researches in MOOC all PUT assessment LAST as a design and delivery criteria for success in learning.  Why?  May be we couldn’t assess the learning emerged out of MOOC that easily, since lots of learning relates to conversation, interaction and development of PLE.  Due to the unique nature of learning in a distributed learning space, the assessment could be based on a subjective measure, and we could hardly measure it objectively, or collectively – as it is idiosyncratic in nature – that each participant has his or her own learning goals, and you can’t measure the success of the personal goals versus a MOOC course “outcomes”.

34 thoughts on “#Change11 Pedagogy, Mobile Learning and Assessment in MOOC

  1. The problem with no assessment is that people have a need to know that they are competent at what they are doing. To be reassured that they have the skills, processes and knowledges to do a certain task well. Assessment is a way to fill that need.

    However, that being said, assessment does not need to be a brain dump. Assessment should be used as a way for the person to learn the required skills, processes and knowledges to do the task well and to be able to demonstrate their learning effectively through the assessment task.

    I think it is more about what assessment tasks are than whether to do away with assessment.

  2. Thanks Ruth for your visit and insightful comments. I have been thinking along similar lines – “The problem with no assessment is that people have a need to know that they are competent at what they are doing”. This is important and necessary in formal education, sure.

    Assessment is about the collection of evidence to support one’s claim of competency, and so as you say:”Assessment should be used as a way for the person to learn the required skills, processes and knowledges to do the task well and to be able to demonstrate their learning effectively through the assessment task.” How does it work in MOOC? Some participants have actively participated in the activities, tasks, others might have chosen to read, to lurk, or to watch the recordings, etc. which may all form part of the assessment tasks stipulated.

    The challenge for both the facilitator and learner is: when learning is emergent in a complex learning environment like MOOC, especially when each participant is looking forward to their own ways of development of their PLE, it could be difficult, if not possible to pre-determine what would constitute an appropriate assessment route or criteria that suits the learner’s needs, in informal learning. That’s why e-portfolio could be a way to go to fill in the “gap” between formal and informal learning, where the assessment tasks are based on the creation of artifacts, reflection of conversation, and action learning at work.

    Again, we shouldn’t be doing away the assessment. However, the researches in the past mostly reflected that participants put assessment last in an MOOC, rather than the “traditional” concept of putting it FIRST in the course. This may be inverted in the case of a E-portfolio MOOC, and I would like to learn what the outcomes are.

    In informal learning, is learning an assessment, and assessment the learning, if learning is emergent? If yes, how would participants of MOOC view it? Would this require a separate rubric to assess and evaluate the learning outcomes?

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  7. 1) It’s interesting that you mention the link between learning and assessment. I brought up the same point in a MobiMOOC related blog post last spring: http://idstuff.blogspot.com/2011/04/is-it-learning-if-there-is-no.html

    2) The aspect of assessment as last (or nonexistent) piece of a MOOC is also something I though of when people were describing how they begun the ideas of MOOCs in Week 0: http://idstuff.blogspot.com/2011/09/where-does-mooc-begin-life.html🙂 It’s nice to see that others are thinking of these issues.

    3) Thanks for the article, I am looking forward to reading it! The one thing that struck me is that there are too many “centers” and if these authors use the term “center” and they have many centers – then they are using the term wrong (and possibly confusing people). I think it’s fine to have many factors to take into account, but too many centers seems like a recipe for disaster

  8. I am not sure that formal assessment is important for learning, but self assessment and reflection are certainly essential. To make a plan for learning you need to know where you are.

    @suifaijohnmak I like the way you are thinking about assessing emergent learning. “Assessment is about the collection of evidence to support one’s claim of competency” Whether it be an eportfolio or some other vehicle, the learner takes responsibility for creating the PLE and accumulating evidence. Prior learning assessment uses the same sort of methodology. I would certainly like your thoughts on this http://taimoocingabout.blogspot.com/2011/09/convergence-of-abundant-content-and.html.

  9. Hi Tai, Great insights into prior learning (as you have posted in your blog). You mentioned: “Prior learning assessment (PLA) is a term used to describe the process by which an individual’s experiential learning is assessed and evaluated for purposes of granting college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training.” I have been working on Recognition of Prior Learning for the last decade, in VET (Vocational Education and Training). It is extremely useful for learners who have accumulated skills and experience but might not have attended formal higher or vocational education courses. There needs to be a shift in the pedagogy and learning paradigm, from the traditional face-to-face teaching and lecturing, in that the teacher or facilitator becomes an assessor, by supporting and encouraging the learner to collect evidences in the journey of learning, likely on the job. This sort of training and assessment needs to be learner-directed (the self-directed) learning, though there are certain expectations from the employer, supervisor, colleagues and even customers at work. The work, job tasks, project form the learning platform. This way of learning suits certain type of learners, but not all, as it requires lots of self-initiative and metacognitive skills in order to succeed. Mentoring in various forms (where supervisor, trainers and peers might all be mentors) would likely provide the support required for the learning.
    John

  10. Thanks Apostolos.
    We share similar concerns about learning without assessment, especially in online courses. In informal learning, one could still set up goals, define the purpose of learning (or education – where purpose would need to be defined clearly), develop and implement action plans in order to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of education and learning, from a personal perspective. However, it is relatively difficult to chart out the learning pathway and landscape that are associated with learning based on tacit and emergent knowledge.
    The mobile learning that “we” are focusing on well illustrates the difficulties in measuring the learning in concrete terms. If a learner has received “x” number of SMSs, and sent out ‘y” number of messages with “z” number of peers, teacher etc., how are we going to measure the learning emerging out of these connections? Does quantity of message reflect the quality of learning achieved? How would such SMS messages affect the learning process?
    Relating to the “centers”, I suppose that may be the focus of educators/researchers viewed from an education perspective. This may need to align with the purpose and process in distance or online education and learning. Such centers are likely based on certain assumptions, which may vary from one person to another, at different times. I agree that too many centers could be a recipe for disaster. Besides, there are paradox in between the factors – like community, knowledge, assessment, where effectiveness of learning is designed and evaluated on a socio-cognitive scale, and may not be meeting the needs of the learner. Would this be a challenge in the case of MOOC?

  11. Rather than an assessment all participants can do, shouldn’t it be more like:
    1. Criteria of key skills, processes and knowledges that the person needs to be able to demonstrate to show they have indeed learned what is needed for the particular task/job/degree.
    2. How the person demonstrates that learning it up to the individual i.e. eportfolio, wiki, blog, written response, podcast, oral presentation with posters, etc.

  12. 1. I like your point: relating to key skills, processes and knowledge, that needs to be defined in more concrete terms to allow both educators and participants to understand, negotiate and where appropriate agreed upon, based on consultation and continuous reviews. This will ensure that the course objectives and learning outcomes are matching with the needs and expectations of the participants. In a MOOC where participants are coming from a diverse international background, this could be a huge challenge for the facilitators, or assessors to stipulate, as each work scenario/degree is different. In this connection, I am referring to the design of the MOOC that is both open, flexible and inclusive of learners of “all background”, without any pre-requisite knowledge and skills. Should such formal online courses of MOOC require pre-requisite of skills for signing up?

    2. I agree, and that is an excellent way of demonstrating digital literacies and capability through those activities and artifacts creation and development. As each learner learns differently, autonomy and openness is critical to success.

    Would this be still an early stage for lots of participants to be involved in these? How about peer assessment in MOOC? Will it work? What are the implications?

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  17. Understand your point …
    In a MOOC where participants are coming from a diverse international background, this could be a huge challenge for the facilitators, or assessors to stipulate, as each work scenario/degree is different. In this connection, I am referring to the design of the MOOC that is both open, flexible and inclusive of learners of “all background”, without any pre-requisite knowledge and skills.

    My comment was made in the broader context of ‘assessment’ itself rather than just MOOC. However, even if it is a MOOC, isn’t there a purpose for running the course even if it is only awareness of its existence? Should this be the case, learning could be assessed by:
    1. Participation in various items within the course
    2. Peer interaction
    3. Self-reflection tools such as blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Google+, etc.
    4. Course community items such as forums, wikis, chat rooms, twitter, etc.
    5. Participant generated podcasts, video, graphic displays, etc.

    There needs to be some basic ‘rules of engagement’ i.e. state your opinion and point out deficits or conflicting ideas in other opinions but do not deride. Every person is on their own learning path. Creativity is needed not conformity to tired thinking or being bullied into conformity or silence.

    Some of which happened on the first CCK08 MOOC.

  18. I like your ideas of assessment based on a participatory pedagogy, with a technology Web2.0 & community based learning. I reckon experience sharing and conversation is valuable for us in MOOC, for both novices and those of us who had gone through the pathway of CCK/MOOC. We could then reflect connectively and collectively on the sort of “rules of engagement” that worked. This would avoid the “conformity to tired thinking or being bullied into conformity or silence” as you have elaborated. Well said and agreed.
    John

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  27. John, great to hear about the VET initiative and an attempt to do things differently. Enjoying the good discussion in the comments. Just through a quick few points from my perspective 1. Evidence of engaged participation is evidence of learning 2. Assessments or challenges focus the mind – they encourage heightened motivation and determination, timely decision making and compromises to see a task/project through – Deadlines are KIng!

  28. The mobile learning thing I have not been greatly inspired by – I recognize that it is an increasingly popular trend. I will look into it sooner or later and probably love it! No – what I’ll probably do is see it’s value in certain situations.

    So from a horses for courses perspective I am sure something will emerge, but from my perspective 1. you need good technology to enjoy the mobile learning experience and 2. are you in the right environment to learn with other beep, beeps coming your way on your beeping mobile – are you physically in a good location to do serious learning.

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