#Change11 A conversation with George Siemens

I have been looking forward to a face-to-face connection with George Siemens since my participation in Connectivism and Connective Knowledge CCK08, and subsequent Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).  Tonight, my dream comes true.

I feel greatly honoured to have a conversation with George Siemens tonight.  Thank you George for sharing your wonderful insights with me, great food for thoughts.

Here are the four photos with George Siemens


22 thoughts on “#Change11 A conversation with George Siemens

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  5. George noted two main problems with http://change.mooc.ca/

    1. diminished/disjointed engagement by the participants
    2. additional support needed on guiding and facilitating discussion

    He also talked about a broad feeling of disconnect. Odd, the latter feeling, in a course based on connectivism? What do you think?

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  8. John and Ken,
    Interesting evaluation at week 10
    1. diminished/disjointed engagement by the participants
    2. additional support needed on guiding and facilitating discussion

    I sense the following others won’t. And that’s Ok. Apologies in advance if these are addressed and I’ve missed it. Distributed does that.

    a) emergent cliques (verb, informal) loose and not always negative, but still a reality. Hipsters United becomes an unsensed participation barrier. Out There fanbois are in established core peer groups. If The Terry’s push back, and are known badge holders, it elicits a sorry reaction. Tiresome.
    b) Academic provocation, for the sake of just being disagreeable, especially anything involving a facilitator, seems to be a flocking moth light. Cheap broadcasting. Not helpful.
    c) Timely distributed responses by facilitators garners deeper connections and engagement. Problem? Creates high time expectations for volunteers who are busy elsewhere, living bill paying lives.
    d) By design, my prezi artefact is labelled a week behind. A small self reminder I’m mostly dealing superficially, part time, with deep topics seriously worthy of Purposeful High Design, aka Shiniest Badge. I’m not on the same page, maybe never want to be. I wonder how the less persistent feel? Especially if bringing new learners in as the course proceeds is even a MOOC aim.
    e) I’m highly motivated to stay, but I need structured reflection time. Weeks are blurring the further we go. Maybe a consolidation plateau week, for explicit reflection and concept connection would be a useful future addition.
    f) #Change11 is but a life adjunct, not central, so if other more powerful, inclusive learning is felt elsewhere, why stay? Exit data may elluminate.
    g) Open data volunteered to refine. eg user satisfaction with types of weekly process. Centralise that guided feedback, on process, not content, with a view to incorporate any strong preference patterns in future weeks. LAK may address that in future.
    h) the quandry of too tight (LMS) to too loose (openly distributed) A Goldilocks solution may help. But what, where and how is that “just right”?
    i) Not applicable for many and difficult to solve if this applies. Syncronous live learning establishes my conditions for weekly inputs. As I catch most on de-ad-lay (GMT SHOULD be moved IMHO 😉 I still find abundance of always on solitary repeats, to be far less motivating. Cinema blockbuster premiers; shared, social, first live run or straight to DVD syndrome? Not sure, but I know I value community “live” (even if attendance is via lurk, aka not verbally comfortable jumping in with tentative thoughts amongst Shiny Badge holders), over solitary dead replays. Worth seeking explicit feedback IF that is felt by others?

    Apologies for distributing ideas, but here they may receive more eyeballs and airtime, unlike attempts to date at homebase.

    Thanks John for sharing your informal chat with George. Wish I could have made it to Sydney to join you. Meh to IRL distance.

  9. Hi Tony, Thanks for the rich comments and visit, with a lot for us to think and reflect on. I will respond in depth in a response post. You are most welcome to share these distributing ideas, and yes, we do hope there are more eyeballs and airtime around this time.

  10. Hi Ken,
    Additional support is needed on guiding and facilitating discussion. Isn’t that also part of the ongoing growth and development of “distributed knowledge and learning” under Connectivism? This is especially the case when there are both novices, advanced learners, veterans, facilitators (including guest speakers who also co-facilitate). The question is: what sort of support is needed? How to support new and novice learners in this Change11? What are the assumptions behind those support needed? I will respond to these questions in a later post. As Tony mentioned, “I’m highly motivated to stay, but I need structured reflection time.” I shared that too, as learning requires that sort of continuous reflection to see what works, and what might be some of the problems, as George mentioned, and what are the options and potential solutions. Also, given this diverse network, the more perspectives we (you and me) have, the better. May I wait for your response to these questions too? I would also reflect on the design, creativity and constraints in a response post.

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  12. >Additional support is needed on guiding and facilitating discussion. Isn’t that also part of the ongoing growth and development of “distributed knowledge and learning” under Connectivism?

    I don’t know. I thought connectivism maintained that there was little need for hubs and big nodes, that the nodes in the network were self-directed and self-learning, ergo, strengthening guidance and facilitating was not only unnecessary but also undesirable, as it was not desired that specific nodes such as facilitators control the activity.

  13. That sounds interesting. Are hubs and big nodes not needed under Connectivism? Nodes in the network were self-directed and self-learning. Okay, are you and me (at least a very simple network) experiencing this? There is no hub or big nodes here. Are you self-directed? So, am I? Who controls the activity? You? Me? Or both of us? Is this Connectivism in its simplest form? Here are some interesting guides from a paper:

    “Perrone (1994) describes common elements of learning activities that most engage students intellectually. Coincidentally, they echo key attributes of creativity: finding interests and problems, looking in new ways, communicating personal ideas, and creating new products and solutions to problems. Perrone’s elements include:

    Students help define content of course

    Students had time to wonder/determining a particular direction that interests them

    Topics had a “strange” quality – something this is common but seen in a new way to evoke lingering questions

    Teachers encouraged different forms of expression and respected students’ views

    Teachers were passionate about their work. The most meaningful activities were “invented” by the teacher or student.

    Students did something.

    Students sensed that results of their work were not fully predictable.

    Michalko (2001) developed nine strategies for enhancing student creativity that are applicable to the online environment. They include:

    Making your thoughts visible – think in terms of visual or spatial forms rather than mathematical or written lines of reasoning.

    Knowing how to see – the first way to look at a problem is too biased toward the usual way of seeing things. Take a different perspective.

    Thinking fluently – generate quantities of ideas rather than holding onto one.

    Making novel combinations – permit ideas and thoughts to randomly combine

    Connecting the unconnected – change your thinking pattern by connecting your subject with something that is not related.

    Looking at the other side – rather than looking at boundaries, look for the solution outside the assumptions.

    Looking in other worlds – lateral thinking that allows one ideas from one world solve a problem for another (e.g. biomimicry http://www.biomimicry.org/intro.html and http://www.annonline.com/interviews/971218/ ).

    Finding what you’re not looking for – creative accidents take place when you are not looking for them. Embrace!

    Awakening the collaborative spirit – share and discuss ideas without thought of condemnation or judgment; have freedom to propose ideas, without risk.

    There are thousands of ideas to encourage creativity that can be used in an online environment. Even encouraging students to investigate various creativity websites or discover their own can communicate the perception that creativity is valued in the online course.”

    So, I suppose the support and facilitation needed are more about encouragement and getting feedback from each other (as the knowledgeable others), rather than the facilitators controlling the activity.

    I still think guidance and facilitation could come from peers, knowledgeable others, and so it is not based only on the facilitators. Have I missed the points? What do you think?


  14. Hi John. I note that your sources pre-date MOOCs, so I wonder if they are relevant. Or maybe they are relevant – MOOCs are trying to become like a traditional course.

    In one of Downes’ recent presentations (http://www.downes.ca/presentation/288) he has a slide with this caption:

    “What about engagement as relevance–the idea that people choose their learning”

    which caused me to wonder if the lack of engagement signals a decision by participants as to the relevance of the learning in the MOOC – perhaps the participants are ‘voting with their feet’ by abandoning the MOOC.


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  16. Hi Ken,
    Is MOOC trying to become like a traditional course? May be the sources of ideas have been around for sometime, or may be not? As I shared here https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/social-media-google-and-the-golden-eggs-with-mooc/ we all wanted to have the golden eggs. You have pointed to the lack of engagement signals a decision by participants as to the relevance of the learning in the MOOC. I think there has been a recurrent urge of more commenting and feedback in the blogs, as a way to “motivate” participants after they have posted their voices and opinions in their blog posts. Without too many comments or feedback, people might feel “disconnected” or just speaking to the “air”. Besides, blogging takes time and efforts, at least in understanding the theme of the week, and relating to what has been mentioned by the facilitators and colleagues, and so it could always be a challenge for both novice and veterans learners. Also, as there are no central forum (official one- except the course Discussion one on gRSShopper), majority of participants have then chosen to “lurk” rather than posting on blogs or FB (again, less than 1% (out of 2000+) were active there). Twitter is still a good way to link to the resources, blogs or the recordings/updates. So, I am not surprised by this recurrent issue. What could be a “better way”? Sometimes people just opted in, opted out, based on their interests. To be, or not be, in this MOOC, that is interesting. John

  17. Just wonder how many of the MOOCers are new and how many are veterans? As I have been to many MOOCs, I am so accustomed to the pattern now. So, what needs to be done, as Tony mentioned, the too tight to too loose, how to balance it?

  18. http://www.downes.ca/presentation/288

    A couple of quotes from the above:

    “…the sort of engagement we’d like to see”

    “The idea is to learn through practice and reflection, becoming a knowing person by doing – the way we know people do learn” (emphasis on do)

    These kind of statements make me wonder about who the MOOC is for, is it to provide the sort of engagement that the course creators want to see? Based on the presumption that practice and reflection is the only way people learn? If this is true, then clearly the course creators have decided for the rest of us that their way is the best, and the only thing to do is make sure that novices are taught the proper way to engage. I didn’t think connectivism stood for that. I thought it stood for making one’s own choices. If the latter is true, then assessment of engagement shouldn’t matter.

    Have you seen ‘Field of Dreams’? http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800064784/info

    The meme in that movie is ‘build it and they will come’ Well, maybe that is not always the case. Maybe build a MOOC, they will come, and then they will leave. Is there a problem with leaving?

  19. Hi Ken,
    Glad to learn your views – yes Connectivism stood for making one’s own choices, because at the end of the day, you (and me) are making our own choices in our learning. I don’t believe in anyone making that decision on our behalf. Surely there are assumptions behind even with my belief. I still believe it is the connection of the brain(s) with others & networks that creates the learning, and practice and reflection, modelling and demonstration are all part of it. The practice and reflection is one way of learning (Stephen Downes), and I suppose we all learn with many other ways too. Lisa Lane mentioned that she learnt best by teaching in her post. You mentioned that you learnt through debates and discourse. Personal learning could take various forms, and so even thinking through and imagining certain issues, together with a critical thinking mindset could be effective learning. Even meditation could lead to a clearer mindset in evaluating alternatives or judging a situation. Our sharing of perspectives also helps me in thinking through what learning means from each others’ perspectives and experience. These sort of presumptions are seldom challenged in traditional teaching and learning environment, I suppose (again assumptions), but I don’t see why we couldn’t explore and ask for clarification in our learning process. So, relating to build it and they will come, would it be context driven, or even power driven? Trust, understanding, meaning-making is too hard to be realised in a “big” group. It might be easier to start small, with a small network or cluster of people with some common interests, and see how it works. I know it works with my class, especially when learning together with my fellow learners one-on-one, where we shared together, and I learn as well as they do. How does it sound to you? May be MOOC is built up of such one-on-one relationship. My conversation with George Siemens helps me quite a lot in coming to the consolidation of these ideas. What makes you ticked in learning? What sort of learning would lead you to become an autonomous, independent or inter-dependent learner? I am still exploring different views relating to these questions with every encounter. May be no one holds the “eternal truths” (except God, and Jesus, as I am a Catholic). Still learning. Back to you with renewed thanks to your deep insights.

  20. My head’s still spinning with these notions of engagement, why it matters and to whom it matters, if at all. In response to Ken way up the page, yes I think it’s totally ok for people to leave a mooc or ‘vote with their feet’. Elsewhere, people have questioned the C in mooc (could be conference instead of course)? I’m feeling like it stands for choice and I am likely to resist any attempts to have my choices limited in this environment…goodness knows how limited the choices are elsewhere in learning. 🙂

  21. >…goodness knows how limited the choices are elsewhere in learning.

    I guess you mean in structured or formal learning? It seems to me that the choices are unlimited in unstructured or informal learning. I wonder at the continual movement in education to place structure, to construct, for example, an engaging environment (course) by which to attract and hold learners. Is it that the institutionalized education environment is an unnatural environment, and requires tinkering to make it attractive?

    Like you ask about engagement, “why it matters, and to whom it matters”. Clearly, in the first instance, it matters to the course facilitators.

    ‘Why’ it matters is somewhat intriguing. Do you have any thoughts on the reasons engagement might matter to the course facilitators?

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