How to solve this BIG AND COMPLEX PROBLEM? Are these also the WICKED PROBLEMS?
Tony asks in his post on Some critical reflections on MOOC:
To what extent do MOOCs really change the nature of the game, and to what extent are they more an extension and development of what has gone before – and hence should aim to incorporate previous best practices? Or will that destroy them?
A learner-centred approach has evolved in the recent MOOCs, and the learning that emerged significantly inverted how learning could be achieved, despite the complexity and chaotic nature of learning on the social webs, and internet.
The “phenomenal” scaling at a massive level with online learning is planting the seedlings for more experimental testing of both structured formal education and open structure of online learning with “personal learning”.
The offer of “MOOCs” via Stanford AI and Machine Learning, Udacity, Coursera, University of People are just some of the initiatives that open up new education opportunities to global learners.
In the case of MOOC, what are some of the challenges? I think one of the biggest challenges relates to the wicked problems as shared in my previous post:
“Fragmentation suggests a condition in which the people involved see themselves as more separate than united, and in which information and knowledge are chaotic and scattered. The fragmented pieces are, in essence, the perspectives, understandings, and intentions of the collaborators. Fragmentation, for example, is when the stakeholders in a project are all convinced that their version of the problem is correct. Fragmentation can be hidden, as when stakeholders don’t even realize that there are incompatible tacit assumptions about the problem, and each believes that his or her understandings are complete and shared by all.”
The antidote to fragmentation is shared understanding and commitment. In the case of networked and collective learning, it also requires forms of curation and aggregation – both on the fragmented resources collected and conversation held all over the places, in order to make sense, and to form a more coherent response to the problem statement. This would then be shared through further conversation, by redefining the problem, analyzing the data, developing alternative options and solutions, followed by implementation of solutions. The use of wikis and google documents are typical examples to illustrate the crowdsourcing solutions to such problems.
“Social complexity makes wicked problems even more wicked, raising the bar of collaborative success higher than ever.
Because of social complexity, solving a wicked problem is fundamentally a social process. Having a few brilliant people or the latest project management technology is no longer sufficient.”
Assumptions and Presumptions
There are assumptions and presumptions in the theory of learning that is applicable in MOOC, based on Assumptions Theory that I have proposed. I reckon there are certain critical elements that would impact on the design and implementation of MOOC.
Social, Teaching and Cognitive Presence, and Educational Experience
Kop, Fournier and Mak (2011) concludes: This research showed the importance of making connections between learners and fellow-learners and between learners and facilitators. Meaningful learning occurs if social and teaching presence forms the basis of design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive processes for the realization of personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.
MOOCs & DS106 model have been basing on a holistic approach, with teaching presence, but emphasizing social/cognitive (George slide 46)
Quinn critiques about MOOC:
“The connectivist MOOCs, on the other hand, are highly social. The learning comes from content presented by a lecturer, and then dialog via social media, where the contributions of the participants are shared. Assessment comes from participation and reflection, without explicit contextualized practice.”
“From the Cognitive Apprenticeship perspective, learners need motivating and meaningful tasks around which to organize their collective learning.”
I think the Cognitive Apprenticeship comes close to the mentoring (with mentors-mentees), with a double loop reflection personalised model. May be, the use of e-mentoring within a social network would strengthen the learning, through social media and technology. I reckon that is also important in establishing a framework for novice or apprentice learning in the design and development of MOOC (for the new learners to online courses).
What makes MOOC (CCK, Change11 and PLENK 2010 etc.) differ significantly from other MOOCs such as DS106, Stanford AI and Machine Learning is the assessment component, and how the participants have perceived its importance. In a CCK, or PLENK2010 MOOC, participants who were actively engaged in the course would create or remix artifacts (blog posts, tweets, videos on Youtube, photos on flickr, podcasts, digital stories, or slideshow etc) in their sharing and contributing to the course. However, as shared here:
“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”.
Stephen says in his post on What MOOC does change:
“One big difference between a MOOC and a traditional course is that a MOOC is completely voluntary. You decide that you want to participate, you decide how to participate, then you participate. If you’re not motivated, then you’re not in the MOOC.”
This could be one of the critical points about MOOC, where educators coming from a traditional or classroom teaching background would need to grapple with. A teacher who has been accustomed to the typical school setting would likely been given instruction and are expected to execute the teaching function – to teach in a class, or to maintain control over classroom learning for their students. This sort of educational philosophy has long been hailed as the golden rule – with structured lesson plans, based on rigid course program. In this connection, educators coming with those background might find this “freedom” to participate, and to “teach and learn” at odds with their habits of teaching, and could be at arms length, too much to “sacrifice” to let go – the very act of “professional teaching and lecturing”. So, I doubt if these participants aren’t motivated, just that they are having such feelings of dissonance – in the adoption of MOOC informal learning approach to their formal teaching. It doesn’t sound comfortable, for some educators who are adapted to the group, collaborative approach towards teaching.
As Stephen mentioned here:
“What we are trying to do with a MOOC is to create an environment where people who are more advanced reasoners, thinkers, motivators, arguers, and educators can practice their skills in a public way by interacting with each other. In such an environment, people can learn by watching and joining in. This is not an ‘assumption’ that this happens; it is an observation.
If we can get past the idea that the purpose of a MOOC is to ‘teach people stuff’ then we can begin to talk about what benefits they bring.”
The focus of MOOC would then relate to the creation of environment and the practice of learning and reflection, in a community, rather than the mere “teaching the content” to the participants as typical in a traditional online course.