What are you interested in exploring in a MOOC? Are you learning?

It is great to learn about Jenny and her colleagues’ contribution to the MOOC through the FSLT12, and I would like to congratulate her and her colleagues in having a great success in the design and delivering of the course.

Heli asks: Did I change in FSLT12?  My response question is: Did I learn in MOOCs?  Did I change after participating in MOOCs?

I have only browsed through FSLT12, so I could only share a “glimpse” of what first time facilitation means to me, if I were to participate in it. Thanks for sharing such wonderful, thoughtful reflections. I am with you, in your thoughts about learning, in particular on what learning means.

I don’t see learning always be equated with change. Under a behavioral approach, learning is a change in behavior. If there is no change in behavior, is it true that there is no learning?  For instance, I would like to meditate and reflect on my learning with my blog posts. If I keep doing it, there is no change in behavior, but have I stopped learning?  Sharing is part of learning, whether it is becoming, or just be yourself, could mean that I am continuously learning, though it is a practice of acting and reacting, reflecting and responding – the interaction in the communication and learning process.

I think the “Course” in the MOOC may be best considered as a stepping stone for those participants (lecturers, professors) who would like to have more experience in facilitating online courses, first time.  For those of us like you who are well experienced in facilitation, then it is more about our sharing of what we have done and learnt with others.  Adopting a formal approach in professional conversation in an online course may be useful if the goals set up by the course are shared and agreed. This would ensure that learning outcomes are achieved, based on the performance of the learners, and evidence are collected both by the individual participant and the facilitators.  However, when it comes to personalized learning, especially in life-long learning, I think that is where different people would view learning differently.

We all have different life and work experience, attitudes towards education and learning, and personal values.  So, the capturing of learning that are achieved on a personal basis, like the achievement of personal goals via different learning and strategic actions would make deeper sense on a personal level.  Would that be reflected in your fulfillment of a retired life, where you could learn as you want, with more autonomy and a choice of who and how you would like to interact with in the virtual and digital networks?

The facilitation of online forum could help many first time educators to start having conversation with others,  and to appreciate the different voices and opinions of both peers and students.  The use of PLE/PLN could be a valid, authentic and reliable evidence of learning that has taken place, especially when it addressed the higher forms of learning, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, collaborative team working, proactive and authentic networked learning.

In Meaning is the driver of learning, Jenny says: “We experience the world and our engagement within it as meaningful through practice”.  We make sense of our social experience when we participate and interact with each others, sharing and understanding some of the values and experience of each others, and reflecting individually and connectively or collectively.  The personal learning that may occur could be based on our critical examination of some of the information and perspectives each of us have, and questioning the assumptions and basis behind those problems and decisions.

To what extent would these learning and the associated modes of belonging be relating to engagement, alignment and imagination whilst learning in the community, and a part of community of practice? I am sure that I have been involved in all three modes of belonging in the various MOOCs since CCK08, though I think my engagement and involvement with each of the MOOCs would vary, as I have shared it here.

This may then shed light on how we would manage and communicate more effectively when learning in an online learning environment through sense making and way finding.  The learning that takes shape in the community would also reveal our personal identity throughout the networks – in terms of who we are, and how we would like to better understand our identity, to create and control our identity, and to resolve our identity issues. “Virtual communities and networks make it possible for people to create new and multiple self identities that can be controlled and manipulated by the user (Ridings and Gefen, 2004).” “Virtual communities and networks assist individuals to work through issues of personal identity in a variety of ways. They provide social support to people in need by connecting individuals who have experienced similar identity issues.” (Harris, 2010)

Do you think you have learned anything new, or emergent through a MOOC?  I don’t think I have a simple answer to this important question.

I am more interested in asking questions, in particular those relating to the recent trends of x MOOCs, rather than the seeking of solutions to education, through x MOOCs. Why?  Is learning all about exploring and seeking responses to the challenges and changes?   It is both a process and becoming what I want to become, not merely the mastery of content, or an expert.  It should go beyond being an expert in an area, but having expertise in connection, engagement (my reflection here and here) and various un-explored areas, as Feynman once conceived – the pleasure of finding things out.

I am also interested in exploring how new technology is supporting informal learning, as Stephen shares here.  Is MOOC the solution to future learning?  Here is another interesting post asking if the x MOOCs are sustainable.  I don’t have the crystal ball, but I think xMOOCs with venture capital would last for a long time, though it would take another series of post for me to respond.  How about your view?

6 thoughts on “What are you interested in exploring in a MOOC? Are you learning?

  1. Pingback: What are you interested in exploring in a #MOOC? Are you learning? | Offene Bildung | Scoop.it

  2. I hadn’t seen this Feynman video before – astonishingly relevant to the current situation in education – thanks John!. I have some sympathy with his wicked remarks on the social sciences about how hard it is to know things (like ‘true’ learning theories?).

    The video was particularly relevant for me as I’ve joined a Coursera MOOC on Quantum Computing. It’s very different from my cMOOC experiences – much easier to say what I’ve actually learned but the focus on instruction, assessment, marking schemes etc is a bit disconcerting. There’s even a timed 3 hour exam at the end which I won’t be taking! Maybe I’ll blog about it when I’ve more time.


  3. Hi Gordon,
    Thanks for sharing. Yes, Feynman had some unique thoughts and philosophy of life that I found amazing. I suspect that he didn’t like authority figures, and he was critical about social scientists, with their pseudo scientific techniques and experiments. I could understand where he was coming from, as a physicist and scientist, who demanded rigorous empirical research and proof to support a scientific theory.

    Taking a 3 hour examination is surely not for everyone. I haven’t tried those courses yet, so it seems to be quite a challenge to complete the courses. Looking forward to hear from you about your experience in such course.


  4. Pingback: What are you interested in exploring in a MOOC? Are you learning ... | Connectivism and Networked Learning | Scoop.it

  5. Hi John and thanks for your attention to my blog post.
    I listened to the Feynman video and it was interesting because he described his own development. It is true that we must live without knowing. I do not understand why a physicist is proud of it and in social sciences is is a shame? Surely we know the limits of knowing and social scientist have a complex object to explore: human being.

    And these human beings in interaction in moocs is an impossible research object but so what? I try anyway and gather some information and build up models and theories. We cannot make experiments and treat human people however as natural scientists – Oh now I remember the atom bomb and end this topic.

    My intention was to write about what can be seen an evidence of learning in open online courses. You wrote
    ” I would like to meditate and reflect on my learning with my blog posts. If I keep doing it, there is no change in behavior, but have I stopped learning? Sharing is part of learning, whether it is becoming, or just be yourself, could mean that I am continuously learning, though it is a practice of acting and reacting, reflecting and responding – the interaction in the communication and learning process.”

    How to understand this more deeply? The pleasure of finding things out – Feynman said it is the focus. Go to the area of unknowing and tell what you see…knowing the earlier theories and building new ones. A lot to do… let’s continue

  6. “Just to find out about things in the world”, that sounds so simple, yet humble and elegant as a philosophy of life. I found it underlies the principle of simplicity out of complexity. We all possess curiosity to explore around us, since we were young. Are we interested in understanding the laws of nature or artificially constructed networks (webs and internet), technology, human behavior, etc? I have always questioned the assumptions and knowledge underpinning the theories, and am still exploring.

    Sharing and reflecting on what you or I see, and what you or I think and experience, could be the fundamental law of learning and communication. That is how we make sense of the learning that is embedded and practised in our daily life. If such learning turns out to make our life happier, richer, and more meaningful, let it be it. We would surely embrace it, and don’t want to lose it.

    As you said, let’s continue…

    Thanks again for your precious sharing.

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