The c MOOC as knowledge ecologies

Thanks to Stephen Downes for the reference to Dr. Mohamed Amine Chatti’s Knowledge Management: A Personal Knowledge Network Perspective.

Here are some abstracts that I would like to quote:

Knowledge ecologies are thus self-controlled and self-contained entities.

Knowledge ecologies lacked a shared repertoire and are thus open and distributed knowledge domains.

The result of participation in a knowledge ecology is a restructuring of one’s PKN, a reframing of one’s theories-in-use and an extension of one’s external network with new tacit and explicit knowledge nodes; i.e. people and information (external level)

Knowledge ecology is a more general concept than intensional networks.

In essence, a knowledge ecology is a complex adaptive system that emerges from the bottom-up connection of PKNs.

That is a wonderful analysis of knowledge ecology, with a model of Knowledge Management based on Personal Knowledge Network perspective.

I have once conceived that c MOOCs did exhibit the features of community and community of practice, though it certainly differed from the main features of COPs as postulated by Etienne Wenger.

I reckon this knowledge ecology concept re-opens the discourse about the nature of MOOC, in where it functions and operates, and how it behaves, as a knowledge ecology at times.  However, I have often noticed that MOOCs would exhibit the configuration of knowledge ecology – with networks and communities embedded in it post MOOCs.

Here I have elaborated such a configuration in my previous post:

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

Postscript: Here is my post on knowledge and learning ecology.

Finally, I would reiterate about future of education based on a new paradigm of knowledge:

I conceive new and emerging knowledge would be created through such “Global Community and Networks” which would be based on an environment, education and learning ecology with a network of learning platforms such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), MOOCs (Massive Open Online Communities) and MOOP (Massive Open Online Projects) over different spaces, network chains.

Is MOOC about Community Building?

I just come across this post on MOOC. So Coursera community is starting to introduce student profiles to enable students to build connections with each others.  That’s a great move towards community building.

There are suggestions to develop groups in these courses, and again that would surely help in supporting connectivity in MOOC.

The challenge in MOOCs is: how do we know who someone really is, in their identity online?  Also building groups with similar language and cultural background may help in clustering learners who speak and write the same languages, but then this would weaken the chance of those people meeting others coming from different backgrounds too.

If someone is coming from a “weak” educational background, then would that hinder them from connecting with those more experienced learners with a strong educational background?

As Roy points out:

On the question of elitist or egalitarian MOOCs … I think there is room for both, but the only really important point for me is it should be upfront: the polite equivalent of something like …

  1. ‘this MOOC is a conversation in which experts are free to participate in expert discourse, without regard for novices’
  2. ‘this MOOC is a conversation in which experts are free to participate in expert discourse, but they should be aware of the need to relate to others who may be novices in particular fields’ (which includes just about everyone)
  3. ‘this MOOC is a conversation in which experts are not free to participate in expert discourse if that leads to the exclusion and marginalisation of novices’.

What is Coursera built upon?  Is it an elitist or egalitarian platform?  That would determine how the conversation would flow, and who would be engaged in those conversations.  This is also a question for c MOOC too, as experts’ interests could be very different from those of the novices.

So, it is rather hard to resolve the issue – on whether experts and novices could be encouraged and supported in the discourse or conversation, by merely having a central forum in the course, where tens of thousands of students resided.

Has this been a challenge in c MOOCs – where MOODLE forum was used?   A definite YES.

In the post:

The connectivist model is more visionary in that it understands that one of the most dynamic assets of an unbound open learning system is the people, but in execution there is a lot of same chaos in identifying, absorbing, and building upon meaningful contributions. At the end of the day it is still too many voices overflowing seemingly never-ending streams.

There were suggestions on how these be rectified by:

1. Managing information: purposing a meaningful discussion

– Setting up the proper framework and controls

– Facilitating digestion of information

– Encouraging engagement

2. Facilitating action: tangible engagement beyond words

– Forging meaningful connections

– Translating into real-life interaction

Sounds great.  I suppose most of the actions mentioned are extremely useful and worthwhile to pursue, if most if not all students are coming from similar background experience, and thus with similar expectations.  However, in the case of MOOC, I think it would be quite a challenge to ensure the meaningful discussion and the provision of facilitation, unless these are based on self-organising action and volunteer master facilitators who could help and support the facilitation.

I also see those nuances in learning differently.  First connectivist model requires an appreciation of chaotic learning, due to the interaction between different agents and information sources, and are therefore highly valuable for people who would like to master sensemaking and wayfinding, as a goal in the learning.  Would that be applicable in structured courses such as x MOOCs?  May be, may be not.  As shared, the prescriptive learning that is based on known and declarative knowledge would not be learnt most effectively with approaches other than mastery learning, as there are definite answers that the learners are expected to respond to in assignments and examinations.

Second, even in the case of peer learning and assessment, the emergent learning that emerged out of the interaction in assessment would be “structured” around a few learners only.  Each of the peers need to have a certain mastery of the knowledge and skills before they could make a “valid” and reliable assessment of their fellow peers.  This is similar to the peer-review in articles for publication in journals or conference, only that the review here is related to certain course work, rather a formal paper for publication.

To achieve a mastery of skill in vetting and grading peers’ assignment required mastery of assessment too.  This might require certain “validation” of the skills before one could take up such assessment role.

Under a formal structured course of instruction, the instructivist approach seems to be the norm rather than exception, in endorsing and assessing the learners to peer assess.

If one wants to know whether the responses in assessment are meeting the standards set up by the education authorities or professors or not, then such assessment has to go through another assessment process – like auditing or peer-review by experts.  How would this work in x MOOCs?

How about the cheating and plagiarism issue that are challenging the Coursera?  Are these also part of the learners’ roles to check and report while assessing their peers’ work?

The peer assessment, however, may best be approached with a connectivist approach, provided any suggestions to improvement and development are co-created in an educator-learner environment.  This is both a challenge to the professor, and to that of fellow learners, who might have believed that chaos in learning is undesirable, thus causing frustrations among learners, who would then drop out of the course, without any raising of the concerns.

In summary, building community to approach learning in MOOC would surely be the way to go, when all those learning are happening in open space, rather than the limited closed space in forum or videos instruction.  There are however challenges which still need to be resolved, when language barriers, chaotic learning, peer assessment and cheating and plagiarism issues are emerging out of the MOOCs.

What are the solutions?

Postscript: Cheating has become a huge concern in Higher Education.  See this post.  Here is the post relating to the language and peer grading issues.

Photo: image from Google

Gamification – Is that the strategy that will lead you to the promised land?

Gamification: that involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts.  Gamification is a strategy which has its precursors from the Soviet Union’s involvement of workers at work with games and experiments and USA’s various management approaches, with a sense of  childhood’s play, to weaken the split between work and play.   Such strategies have also been widely used in the design of multi-media games for entertainment, which engage the game players with “playfulness” and fun.

Gamification sounds novel to education, and has not been widely applied as yet.  However, if we treat education as a business entity, then why can’t education be gamified?

As cited in wikipedia “Business applications for gamification are just beginning to appear as well. RedCritter Tracker incorporates gamification elements such as badges, rewards, leaderboards and ribbons into project management.[10]

The magical bullet with gamification relates to:

1. Turning grade into fun – with game levels

2. Using agency in game – to provide choice

3. Leverage external motivators – with game, and Alternate Reality Game.

Integrate these games into classroom activities, tasks and projects, and you would have a class of students ready to share ideas, using games-design to approach problems, or to explore ways to solve real problems, or taking up an adventure.

I could imagine that within a few years, there would be a plethora of gamification in education and learning, when badges become the norm in recognizing those learners who have achieved certain levels of “capability” or competency in networked learning, or in building networks for collaboration and cooperation.

The Google document, wiki, Google Hangout, and Blog collaboration could also be part of this gamification, in search of new knowledge or adventure in emergent learning.  The recent x MOOCs could all be “badged” to recognize the learners too in their “levels” of involvement and engagement, though it is still too early to come up with a model that would gamify the whole x MOOC business of education.

It’s really up to your imagination to engage and involve both learners and educators in education in this exciting network of learning, and gamification could be an important strategy both for the institutions and educators to employ in getting the learners on board and be engaged, with fun.

If you are looking forward to the promised fun land, isn’t gamification the way to go?

Photos: Google image

How have you used gamification in your field of work, or education?

Postscript: An interesting post.