How cool should a MOOC be?
This is my response to David Wiley’s post on the Virtuous Middle Way: To what extent should teacher provide guidance to learners? You have touched on the nerve of most online courses, in particular MOOC. First, would this depend on the type of learners, the capability and prior experience of the learners? For MOOC, our research revealed that lots of experienced learners (educators) were more likely to be active in the peer-teaching and learning, whereas there were quite a lot of unknowns relating to the background of those others less than active or mere lurking in the course. Would there be lots of cool kids in MOOC? I don’t know, but I doubt very much if cool kids are that interested even in a structured/unstructured learning facilitated by professors, scholars or educators under a MOOC.
“many of the cool kids hate structure, disdain objectives, and share equal belief in assessment and the flying spaghetti monster. And who doesn’t want to be cool?” I don’t think people are “hating structure, disdaining objectives” as such, if the learning is a valuable experience that helps them to learn more “effectively” and “efficiently”. As shared in my previous post: effective learning requires – learner centred, knowledge centred, assessment centred, and community centred, in mobile learning, under a social constructivist framework.
However, such structure, learning objectives may better be reframed in the learners’ learning goals (i.e. learner centred), where emergent knowledge and learning would likely be the sought-after knowledge when learning online with others (social learning), when coupled with personal learning, and personalised learning (assessment centred based on say eportfolio and self-assessment via blog posts, personal learning networks (PLE)), and learning as a community and network (as a growth and development strategy for the learner and educator, learning together) will foster the education, thus lessening the often perceived control by the educators.
Second, as you shared: “The spirit of education should include respecting the agency of learners. It would be just as inappropriate to use coercive torture techniques to improve the efficiency of learning as it would be to eliminate the provision of specific, direct guidance in the name of agency. As with much else in life, our goal here should be to find and walk the virtuous middle way.” Would this relate to the value of education? There are many assumptions held in distance and online education, in the case of MOOC. The critical aspect in such way of “education” is to question the assumptions behind the learning emerged from the conversation, and education. When one’s goal becomes “our goal”, then we might have to share a deeper understanding of what constitutes a virtuous middle way. Is giving direct guidance necessary and sufficient? To what extent should we encourage and support discovery learning? When? How and Why?