#Change11 Engagement in MOOC and Community of Practice

I read Jeffrey’s post on Making sense of Complexity and engaging others in Change11 with interests.

Jeffrey says:

While I prefer online communication as a mode of social connection,I am increasingly disoriented by the sheer scope of participation in the MOOC,and thus am really struggling to find a small (or any!) social connections of more than a passing or very focused interest.

First, relating to the setting up of goals for MOOC Change11. I don’t think I have a particular set of goals this time.

I have only got one goal: To research and learn through Change 11, and reflect upon the practical aspects relating to Connectivism principles and Community of Practice.

So, natural questions for me include: Were MOOC communities of practice? Is Change11 a community?  And is Change11 a community of practice?

MOOC may be a COP, but may be not, in accordance to the definition of COP.

In this slideshow by Stephen, he mentions that you got to “create” or “join” your own networks, own communities in a MOOC.

But can one really “build” a community of practice, in MOOC?

Based on my past experiences with CCKs, PLENK2010 and other MOOCs, the community is quite different from the “typical” communities that we would define, as there is no distinct boundary for the community.  Instead of a community, in MOOC, it consists of numerous networks and communities which formed and re-formed, with some sustained, and some re-configuration in the network-community that formed.  MOOCkers might have morphed along conglomerate networks, or social media as the weeks progressed, thus staying on with a particular media for sometime, and/or created blogs for a particular purpose, and then, engaged with others for a while.  This seems to behave in a self-organised manner, without any directions from any facilitators, but then the individuals within particular networks would set their own agenda, goals, or tasks which suited their needs.

Can one reveal the patterns out of these network/community formation and development?  Some social network analysis did reveal the trend and pattern.

How about this network and community of practice? COPs need a lot of nurturing before they could grow, develop and sustain.

In this article by Wenger and Snyder suggest that: To get communities going – and to sustain them over time – managers should:

*Identify Potential Communities of Practice.

*Provide the Infrastructure that will support such communities of practice.

*Use non traditional methods to assess the value of these communities of practice.

In MOOC, who will be the manager managing the COPs?  May be, there is no one manager, but each of the participants in the MOOC would take up such role, and self-organise the COPs/Networks in a way that suits him or her.

Twitter is a network, though not a community, as many would argue.  But under the “infra-structure” of MOOC, would Twitter be re-defined differently? Is it a transitional community, or communities of practice?  May be.

Photo: Google

44 thoughts on “#Change11 Engagement in MOOC and Community of Practice

  1. Pingback: #Change11 Engagement in MOOC and Community of Practice | Creative Education, Learning, Technology and Change | Scoop.it

  2. With Facebook functioning as a point for socializing and dipping in and out of friends’ lives, twitter had no particular purpose until Change11 came along. With twitter now linked to the learning blog and publicized to MOOCers everywhere, as you said it’s basic core value has changed. Twitter now has an important function using the tag #change11 it is now a focal point of contact among our Massive community of sorts.

  3. Hello John. According to Wenger (2000), a COP needs to meet three criteria:

    mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire.

    A manager is not really required. There may be COPs within a MOOC, but overall I don’t think a MOOC is a COP, as it probably fails to meet at least the first two criteria. Maybe a MOOC should be thought of as a shell, ecology, learning management system, or environment within which organizational structures such as COPs might exist.

    Reference:
    Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  4. Hi Ken,
    I have been thinking long about those three criteria that you mentioned: mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire. Based on what I have experienced in MOOC, the COPs evolved over virtual space during and after MOOC do exhibit those criteria within small clusters of COPs where some of the participants were situated. Relating to the learning, meaning, and identity of the members of COP, this is where the landscape of practice – a digital and virtual space where the members visited or resided upon. That’s why I would suggest to reformulate the criteria that are typically used in COP. This would reflect more fully the new and emerging structure of MOOC (as a conglomeration of COPs and Networks) that is evolving, emerging and morphing along the digital landscape, not being bounded by the conventional structures. In other words, the unstructure becomes the structure, and uncourse becomes the course, and finally the unCOPs become the COPs. This is happening in lots of COPs too, where the lifespan of physical COPs are transforming into a blend of COPs, all re-defining the meaning of learning, meaning and identity in new and emerging ways. I would need to restudy the research findings (our CCKs, PLENK2010, and other study) to substantiate such claims. The latest study by Wenger et al could also be used to study such patterns.

    I also found that many physical COPs were rather short-lived, and the purposes were ill-defined, with a lot of membership fading at a rapid rate. On the other hand, there have been many successful COPs which continued to grow and develop, but they were likely the ones that could “transform” themselves into new ways of functioning, rather than sticking to the three criteria only.

    Relating to the MOOC being thought of as a shell, ecology, learning management system, or environment within which organizational structures such as COPs might exist, would you like to elaborate on what each of those terms mean to you?

    John

  5. Sure. Shell, ecology, learning management system, environment are similar concepts, in my use of them here in the context of learning systems, complex or simple. I think of them as structures, and, In this context, as constructs of human agents. A MOOC is a construct of human agents, all claims to the contrary notwithstanding. I offered up the four terms in order to give a choice of descriptive term to any one who needs to pick a specific label to describe a MOOC.

  6. Hi Ken,
    This Landscape of Practice Powerpoints by Etienne Wenger provides an excellent summary on various COPs and Networks.
    Does the community defined there match that in MOOCs (the emergence of MOOCs – CCKs, CritLit2010, PLENK2010, eduMOOC, MobileMOOC and this Change11)?
    How about conducting a short survey on COPs with this Change11?
    1. How would you define a community of practice?
    2. What are the characteristics of a community of practice?
    3. Is MOOC (e.g. Change11) a community?
    4. Is MOOC a community of practice? Is yes, what makes it a COP? If no, what is needed to make it a COP?
    5. What are the merits and demerits of MOOC being a Community of Practice?
    I would post these questions to the Change11 research group for consideration. Comments?
    John

  7. John, interesting posting here, and I found it ironic that you started off by referring to that most excellent post😉 without mentioning your own thoughts about it. What do you feel about #change11 being a connected or networked or community? Do you feel you are a member of a community or have otherwise made connections around some shared repertoire? If so, how or around what? If not, why?
    Jeffrey

  8. Hi Jeffrey, Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and helping me to think about some of the critical “elements” of MOOC. I could see how challenging it could be to navigate and aggregate the network information, via visiting various blog posts, and making connections to ideas and or people with MOOC. You are probably not alone with this experience. I did feel overwhelming when I was too involved in “every post” and every referred articles by facilitators in the past MOOCs. Instead, I chose what interested me, and what may help me in achieving my goals, together with an attempt to support others in reaching their goals, through posting and commenting. After a few iteration, I did sense a pattern, about my own sensemaking, and wayfinding, that may be different from others. I tended to be more interested in the affective domains (emotional aspects) when connecting via blogs, and in critical thinking and reflection when connecting to artifacts and ideas. So, my understanding of Community and Community of Practice happens to fall on similar lines with the Meaning, Learning and Identity that I learnt through COP (Etienne Wenger), and furthermore, I prefer to think in terms of metaphors when it comes to COPs and its development.

    What is a metaphor for such a COP within a MOOC? A virtual wonderland with a performance stage where real people (directors, actors, supporters, audience) meet and share their repertoire, design their plays, having dialogues with certain actors, and having rehearsals, and acting out their plays in front of an international audience. There are also demonstration plays (by the guest speakers and facilitators) to showcase the best practice, so as to allow other actors to “learn” through watching and interaction. So, each participant in MOOC would play out their roles as active actors – the directors (facilitators), actors (each of “us”) or audience (lurkers) or supporters (again each of us at various times). These actors are nodes in the network/community.

    (a) What do you feel about #change11 being a connected or networked or community?
    In this respect, I do sense change11 as a connected network and community, whereas the members are participating in a pattern similar to the typical 1-9-90 to 10-20-70 participation pattern, as new members would likely participate in the peripheral (like lurking) before they play a more active part in the community. I also realised that some changes in the roles among the participants are self-organising themselves – to choose who, where, when, how and what to play with their own plays (tasks), with the artifacts created shared with other actors.

    (b) Do you feel you are a member of a community or have otherwise made connections around some shared repertoire?
    I do feel I am a member of the MOOC community. May be this was due to my previous participation and involvement in the MOOCs, starting with CCK08, then CCK09, CritLit2010, PLENK2010, CCK11 and eduMOOC (though I was just a lurker) etc. I was involved in the Ning (ConnectivismEducationLearning) and Facebook (ConnectivismEducationLearning) and various wikis on Connectivism. I have met “hundreds” of wonderful people, though I could only manage to be more fully connected to “tens” of wonderful members of the community. I believe the relationship that was built up through the connections was based on our meeting of “minds” – not only of like minds, but also unlike minds. That’s what I found it valuable in a community – where each of its members have own views and perspectives, and an understanding of perspectives of others is what makes learning more interesting. This is similar to a metaphor that I have used about the understanding of a digital elephant (the internet, vast arrays of information). With an international community, we would each observe and sense about this elephant differently, but also share our understanding via networking, adding a deeper understanding about the cultural, educational and ecological aspects of internet and web.

    (c) What are some of the shared repertoire? I would refer to the Community shared repertoire. These include PLE, Eportfolios and artifacts (in the forms of blogs, Twitter, slideshares, videos, digital stories, synchronous session recordings, etc.), curation & collectives (scoop, bit.ly, delicious, gRSShopper, OLDaily), conversation, forum (FB, Google+, Google Doc (research group), Change Daily discussion, etc.)

    Finally, the community of MOOC that I could sense is somehow different from the conventional face-to-face community or the various online community which has stated common goals or vision, or having a structured way of functioning.

    Sorry that this has become a long comment in response. I hope I have shared my feelings and thoughts about MOOC with you through such a “glimpse” of experience.
    John

  9. Pingback: #Change11 My reflection on MOOC as a Community & Community of Practice | Learner Weblog

  10. >Finally, the community of MOOC that I could sense is somehow different from the conventional face-to-face community or the various online community which has stated common goals or vision, or having a structured way of functioning.

    So are you saying that a MOOC does not meet the COP criteria of joint enterprise?

  11. Refer to this definition of Community of Practice “Joint Enterprise: Secondly, through their interactions, they create a shared understanding of what binds them together; this is termed the joint enterprise. The joint enterprise is (re)negotiated by its members and is sometimes referred to as the ‘domain’ of the community.”

    MOOC does meet the COP criteria of joint enterprise, though it is not always a set of common goals or vision, but a negotiated set of personal goals, based on common themes and repertoire.
    Does it sound different to you? John

  12. @John-
    Thanks for your most thorough reply.
    I am looking for that sentiment you mentioned in your reply to me, “though I could only manage to be more fully connected to “tens” of wonderful members of the community. I believe the relationship that was built up through the connections was based on our meeting of “minds” – not only of like minds, but also unlike minds. That’s what I found it valuable in a community – where each of its members have own views and perspectives, and an understanding of perspectives of others is what makes learning more interesting.”
    That is something that will help me move toward meeting one of my own objectives for the MOOC.
    The only question for me now, is how?
    Jeffrey

  13. I think we are thinking on similar lines, as I reckoned that MOOCs sound like a Community of Interest too. What is fundamental is (a) who determined these basic definitions, and (b) how were these categorization decided? Under a constructivist AND empirical approach, such definition and categorization may be a result of sociological research. Would these need any re-definition and revision, when the conversation and community has moved online or within virtual spaces? For instance, would “Community of Practice” be also reflected as “Network of Practice” (as Terry and Dron has referred to in their previous slides and presentation) and “Landscape of Practice” as espoused by Etienne Wenger. These are evolutionary changes when technology is used as a mediation, or integration, and so the affordance due to media and technology should then be considered as part of the “catalyst” in reframing what is typically called COP or COI, though we would still need to retain the basics relating to Community. There are many examples that also have changed or even transformed what Community means. For instance, Community associated with particular interests could be the transition towards community of practice (as a profession). My association with Logistics Association of Australia is an typical example of COP. Here our committee members are having meetings using virtual conferencing (normally telephoning), but I could attend the meeting physically too. All the news are now electronically communicated. Our fellow members are connected via various means – LinkedIn, newsletters, dinner meetings, mentoring programs, etc. just to name a few. Another example is the Catholic church that I am part of. The community is centred around worship and prayers through the mass, though one could join other activities that are run basing upon one’s interests. So, communities are all around us, in real life, and such communities of practice could all be changing, as it grows, based on the changing technology and interests of their members. Back to you.
    John

  14. How? That is a big question. I could only share my perspective and experience so far, but I do reckon there are lots of ways that you could consider that suit your needs. Our conversation is already part of the process, isn’t it? Would you like to be connected with others? What would you prefer? Who would you prefer? Connection to people, or connection to ideas? You might be your “best teacher” in this challenge.

    I have proposed a strategy on the who, what and how to be connected to here: https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/teaching-and-learning-strategies/

    I also realised that networkers coming from different combinations of mindsets – the different schools of thoughts, with each sharing their stories, narratives of how successful they are. For me, each of the approaches may have their merits, and demerits, and limitations. For those who are accustomed to the school systems, technology may be very disruptive to their teaching, and so you could assume what they are telling you could be a story of how to focus on teaching, and not technology, and that instructivism reigns supreme, and systems and procedures must be complied with. On the other hand, those who are accustomed to the technology enhanced learning, or DIY, or the use of PLE/PLN would tell you a different story, on how technology has greatly helped and supported them in their teaching and learning, or even transformed their teaching or learning practice – through online mentoring, coaching, or PLE/PLN and eportfolios etc.

    I think there are many out there who could tell you those great stories – of successes (and may be failures). Are you already immersed into those narratives – with each of the facilitators for these five weeks, George, Stephen and Dave, and many others that you are connected to?

    Finally, you would likely be the one who chart out your goals, plans and strategies, and what MOOC could offer would be dependent on how you would use it as a PLE/PLN to achieve your mission. There are many who would attend your questions and accompany you too in this life-long learning journey. I am on the way too in this navigating of the digital landscape.

    Now, I do think you are not alone. If you don’t mind, how about my further questions to your response to the “hows” and the questions that you raised in my previous comment? That would be helping me too to learn in this MOOC🙂

    Greatly appreciate your insights into this topic of interest.

    John

  15. >Would these need any re-definition and revision, when the conversation and community has moved online or within virtual spaces?

    Well, sure, you can redefine the terms if you want, to suit your analysis or particular needs. But then we really are no longer talking about the same thing then, are we?

  16. I think we are talking about the same thing, just a matter of “differences” of interpretation, and may be interests and needs, if that is the case.
    What I think is important is that “most of us are so used to the way Community and COPs are defined or categorised, that for me at least, we are more comfortable when they are based on an “enculturated” norm, or may be historical research findings. What I have found from previous CCK and PLENK2010 researches were that many practices were quite surprising, in that they could be different from the principles espoused. Such “emergent and self-organised learning community” deviated significantly from that of the organizational settings of COP, and more often, any initial “disruption” or “intervention” do change or even transform the COP into another configuration. So, I would argue that Community and Network of Practice is adaptive, dynamic, that often is a result of co-evolution due to network-community’s agents interactions and self-organising nature, and so “chaotic” behavior is emergent in nature (i.e. it would be a replicate at massive scale). If this doesn’t suit your analysis, then like to learn what and how you would like to analyse it. What have you found from MOOC in terms of community & COPs?
    John

  17. @John-
    I am wondering if the issue can be reframed as finding compatible narratives around similar topics of interest? If this is the case, then the specific issue may not be as important as the compatibility of the actors?
    As I am getting deeper into actor-network theory, this is quite strongly on my mind these days. Will have to explore this a bit more.
    Thanks for encouraging this thread and conversation to continue.
    Jeffrey

  18. Yes, sounds interesting to me – by finding compatible narratives around similar topics of interest. Thanks for your questions too, as you have helped me in shifting the frame of reference in the reflection. ANT would be an interesting theory to explore.
    John

  19. Well, COP as a concept was introduced in 1991 by Lave and Wenger, and I only heard of it a couple of years ago, so I am not so sure I can think of it as an enculturated norm or best understood when based on one. I am not ‘so used to how it is defined or categorized’, and learned of the concept while participating in and ilearning MOOC-talk. So I don’t agree with your summary there.

    And, as you have observed, “(MOOCS)…do change or even transform the COP into another configuration:. So if another configuration occurs, perhaps a new description is warranted, and you have shown Wenger’s ‘landscape of practice’ configuration. Maybe the term LOP applies to a MOOC, instead of COP? What do you think?

  20. I see what you are not agreeing upon – on “we are more comfortable when they are based on an “enculturated” norm, or may be historical research findings.”
    Here are some abstracts from various papers on COP and situated learning, upon which I would elaborate on my arguments.

    “In the terminology of Wenger (1998, Chapter 2), enculturation into this CoP is accomplished when the newcomers are mutually engaged by participating in online discussions, checking each others’ modifications and offering their own; the engagement is in a joint enterprise, since they subscribe to the community’s goals of developing quality software; and they use a shared repertoire of operating systems, languages and compilers, as well as software tools for maintaining the community such as tools for configuration management, distribution and installation.”

    Based on the above, CoP is based on enculturation. How about MOOC? I have once reflected on the enculturation within MOOC.

    “The concept of communities of practice can also be used to inform pedagogy. Lave’s studies showed that apprentice tailors perform finishing tasks on real garments such as sewing on buttons.” This shows that the concept of COP is based on studies on apprentice tailors.

    “As Wenger (2001 p1) says: Communities of Practice are Focused on a domain of knowledge and over time accumulate expertise in this domain. They develop their shared practice by interacting around problems, solutions, and insights, and building a common store of knowledge.”

    Assimakopoulos and Yan (2005) further argue that the common practice of a community gives them a knowledge domain, a shared identity and cohesiveness to sustain interactions over time (p475). Did MOOC exhibite some of the above – on knowledge domain, shared identity and cohesiveness to sustain interactions over time?

    Indeed, one of the functions of CoPs may be the enculturation, or socialisation of its members into a community’s “approved” mindset. Successful membership of a community implies support for the culture of that community – a shared vision -, and its over-riding ethical and moral standpoint on particular activities or actions – a belief in their values above all others.” So one of the functions of CoP may be the enculturation, or socialisation of its members into a community’s approved mindset.

    Does it sound closer or further away from your view? Are the concepts and definition of COP an enculturated norm? If not, what would these concepts and definition of COPs be based upon?

    You got me thinking – on Landscape of Practice instead of COP. I have once shared that too. John

    Here is a paper on COP that may be of interest.

  21. >This shows that the concept of COP is based on studies on apprentice tailors.

    I think that apprentice tailors is an example of, not the base for the concept of COP

    >So one of the functions of CoP may be the enculturation, or socialisation of its members into a community’s approved mindset.

    That may be a result of a COP, and it may be a goal as well. But I think the key word is practice.

    >Are the concepts and definition of COP an enculturated norm? If not, what would these concepts and definition of COPs be based upon?

    I’m not an expert on Lave and Wenger, but I think they based their concept on an empirical study and coined the phrase COP as a result of their findings, worked from a beginning observation and conception of the phenomenon of Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Does their study and findings make the concept itself an enculturated norm, in your view?

  22. As you mentioned, COP as a result of their findings, based on observation, and LPP, and how all these evolved. The concept behind reveals such a pattern, but you still need to have enculturation, or the socialisation of its members into such community’s approved mindset, otherwise all the definitions, concepts won’t be validated, or accepted. There has been numerous researches revealing stories of successes, and such initial successes in the late 90s and early 2000’s & even now did show the Power Law and the Apprenticeship learning pattern (i.e. LLP). There are however, stories revealing that COP and LPP could be idealistic under certain circumstances, where the apprentice is mentored by mentors within the community from the peripheral to the centre. Why? I have witnessed a few COPs which didn’t work, especially when there were political, power struggles and interference (i.e. constraints due to autonomy, openness) causing inactivation soon after its formation. So, enculturated norm is a concept built on “practice” and without such examples of successes, how would you convince others that they work? For instance, we (and I) have conducted researches on Connectivism (CCK08, PLENK2010), and reported on the experience of the participants learning through Connectivism, whilst others have also done so. Do you think these studies and findings make the concept itself an enculturated norm? Without the “community’s approved” mindset, the community would likely fall apart, and there is no shared (or agreed) definition, no shared concepts accepted. Successes may be due to something else, like network of practice, network or community of interests, which may share some of the characteristics of COPs. And that’s why I am suggesting a “review” of the elements of COPs when examining MOOC. That’s also based on Grounded Theory, where the observation, findings provide the questions to the research of MOOC and COPs, instead of setting up hypothesis in the first place (as in common in scientific research). There are still assumptions here on the community thus formed, especially in the case of MOOC, in that what happened in CCK might not happen in Change11, due to changing circumstances, and the butterfly effect (Chaos – changing initial condition would significantly impact on the outcome) on community and COPs (or COI, LOP etc.).

    I learnt that you have conducted some researches on COPs (MOOC), i.e. the interview you have with me. What have you found from that research?

  23. In that course paper I concluded that CCK11 met the three criteria of a COP. I thought more work might be need on the emergent learner identity issues though. And I think you are right, Change11 might be a different beast than CCK11.

  24. Hi Ken,
    Interesting finding. On identity, that sounds revealing.
    Here is a post relating to Etienne Wenger’s latest thoughts on CoP. What do you think? Is enculturation (and socialization) critical to CoP? I don’t know how this would be translated in Change11, especially with such a diverse “cohert” with different mix. Do we know each other well enough – with the 2 thousand +? I don’t🙂, but with small clusters, may be some understanding. That’s the magic that shakes up the engagement. Social artists… I like it, but I am not sure again, as I am more introverted, not extroverted. How about others? What would you aspire, as your role in MOOC? Becoming a…..

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