#Change11 #CCK12 On research into MOOC

Here is my response to David Wiley’s post on Thoughts on conducting research into MOOC

Yes, David, we (and I) have done some researches into MOOC with the past 2 researches, and so please see the papers under publication for details of the researches.

You will find my research posts here, here and here.

There is a research group with MOOC Change11 where “we” have discussed all the options that you mentioned in your post.  I reckon that it would be worthwhile to explore the learners’ experience.  However, when it comes to participants’ satisfaction, it is a rather subjective measure and would not necessarily be a valid and reliable way to measure the “learning outcomes” of the course, as George and Stephen have stated clearly what are to be achieved in MOOC.  Such measure of satisfaction tends also to relate strongly to peoples’ attitudes towards certain ways of learning (the learning habits), or their preferred learning styles (again this is a controversial topics, where Roy, Jenny and I had tried to dig into in CCK08), and though I think there was a pattern emerging out of the research, it could be difficult to generalize on how people learn (most effectively, or purposely).
The emotional aspects and critical thinking (reasoning) of participants would also significantly impact on how participants value the course, based on their experience.  This is especially profound when people new to the course have difficulties in making sense of the learning, with a sense of isolation, due to the abundance of information at the beginning of the course, or when they didn’t feel their voices being heard, and so could withdraw from the connections or posting of blogs or comments on forum.  These would naturally lead them to become lurkers, remain as lurkers, throughout the course, or dropouts, if they didn’t find enough interests in the course.  This seems to relate to the participants’ needs and expectations, motivation and autonomy.
My past experience with research was: you could get very positive responses from a small sample of the participants (who were active participants, and would likely participate in your research).  However, those who were lurkers might not be too interested in responding.  Those who responded provided us with a range of “perceptions” and “experiences” from very positive to the not that positive (though these were always a few).  We still need to conduct research to understand all these learning experiences in a better way.
There are many others who have conducted researches into MOOC, with George, Stephen, Roy, Jenny, Frances, Rita, Helene, Wendy, and Antonio.
I have a few questions though:
1. Aren’t we all seem to be conducting researches in an “island of researches” mode?    On one hand, we are supporting and encouraging open learning, open research, but on the other hand, we all seem to be afraid of sharing our researches in fear that others would get ahead in researching and publishing them first in academia.  That seems to be at odds to the Open research golden paradigm.  But is that the reality?
2. What could be done to make researches on MOOC more collaborative, or cooperative?  Is networked MOOC research feasible?  What are the pros and cons of conducting research in an open, transparent manner?
3. Finally, I understand that PhD candidates have to conduct researches more independently, as they have to publish their papers to get their qualification.  Would that limit the possibility of doing research in a cooperative manner with other researchers, especially in an institutional environment?
4. Is open researchers (similar to open scholar) the way to go in future research?
More sharing in forthcoming posts.
Picture: Google picture

12 thoughts on “#Change11 #CCK12 On research into MOOC

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  3. John – I certainly agree that MOOC research is important and you do a good service in identifying the available info. The connectivist MOOC may be rather more difficult to grapple with than most ‘courses’ because of the social dimension, differing participant learning objectives etc etc. I’d guess that a really thorough study based on the considerable amount of data now available could be quite lengthy – and expensive!

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  5. Hi Suifaijohnmak, You did it again. You put the finger in the right place , as we like to say here. A gap exists between research for PhD and research for scientific curiosity. Most research is done in groups and cooperation, but cooperation among PhD students is rare. Maybe universities are unable to coach PhD groups?
    Regards Jaap

  6. Hi Jaap,
    Yes, those are very good questions. I don’t know the answers. I just watched a video (about scholars researching in HE) mentioning that most professors supervising PhDs need to secure funding in order to support their researches, and those of their students. They would need to act like “brokers”, and are expected to provide opportunities for PhD students to study, so such students could acquire scholarship, or else they have to pay the fees themselves. The reality is: research means a lot to both professors and PhD students, the “bread and butter” if we would call it. Would sponsoring bodies (research councils) allow for full openness in researches? What are some of the ethical issues and concerns when conducting research with cooperation among PhD students? This may include issues like “plagiarism”, copying of ideas from others, especially when posting initial research findings or analysis on blogs or forums. Who should be credited for the original research ideas or questions? These questions were seldom raised, as they might be too sensitive in any PhD researches or research institutions. Would open research be just an Utopian concept? Does it relate to open education? I mean the ethical dimension of open education. What have I missed out here?

  7. Hi Gordon, agreed with your views. I have been thinking about the use of narratives in research in MOOC, rather than just surveys. I reckon learning experience in a complex ecosystem could more likely be “sensed” through a deep reflection of what has been learnt, rather than just a scale in satisfaction. What sort of thought provoking and probing questions would unearth those “tacit knowledge” and emergent learning, especially those relating to personal goals, personal identity in networks? What sort of study would be cost effective in revealing such patterns of learning?
    When it comes to research on self-regulated learning in MOOC, have we got enough information to explain those learning patterns in MOOC?

  8. Not sure I understand what you mean be “the use of narratives in research in MOOC”? In his book “Working”, Studs Terkel uses a an Oral history format to explore how people experience their portion of the human activity all around us. Is it a problem for PhD candidates to get funding for personal “narratives” as I would understand them? Is this an unreliable or too-subject-to-interpretation research method? Can questions be open ended and still be termed “data”?

  9. Here is the book that I am still reading. There are limitations in the use of narratives in research, as you have pointed out. Questions could be open ended to invite people to tell their stories, and such stories could be analysed and reflected as a means of learning. The responses to those open ended questions are data, but the questions themselves can’t be termed data.

  10. I’ve left a rply inspired by thsi post and Daves original post on the Dave blog. I’m going to repeat it here for the sake of connctions.

    I was coming at similar thinking in the early stages of this Change11 in my blog post on MOOCSs and wicked problems .

    I prefer the Cynefin five domain framework to the wicked problem framework which in various guises uses 2, 3 or 4 domains.

    Give the difficulty inherent blurry & shifting nature of wicked problems that arise out of their complexity, MOOCS seem to have something several process elements that ideally suites them as problem solving methods that can bringing together the insights from many diverse participants and stakeholders.

    To solve wicked problems, good practice, best practice and the evidence base will be of limited use- a guide to strategy generation and selection perhaps. Perhaps they can help come with answer what is going one here.

    This so because each wicked problems is be definition unique. In system characterized by complexity, small difference can produce very different outcomes. What has helped in some places my be harmful in other places. To solve wicked problems, we need to mobilize learning in a network. MOOCS are good method to mobilize learning in diverse network with out trying to impose a one way of seeing the problem.

    Coherent solutions and strategies are more likely to emerge out of the complex adaptive processes of a good MOOC than many other forms of learning.

    You may like to read my earlier #change11 blog post on in Can Collective Learning be mobilized to solve Wicked Problems

    The questions that still drive are:

    * What are the relative strengths & weaknesses of the wicked problem literature and the Cynefin framework?
    * How does this fit with rhizomic learning?

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