# Learning Community

What make me think in our community?

To me, the nuance in how we know and learn make me think.  The recent video teaching and x MOOCs prompted me to explore further about what it means to learn and communicate in our learning community.

What about the discourse on video teaching?

Here in a competition critiquing Khan Academy.

I think this video captures the essence of why education hasn’t been that successful with those video teaching only.  First, teaching followed by practising what has been taught sounds a good-practice approach, but what if the problems are different from the ones taught?  How would the students deal with such problems?

There are plenty of videos using similar approaches in teaching.

What would I suggest as alternative models?

If we were to “teach” probability, there are many different ways. One of the ways involve producing a video, such as the one as shown.  Instead of introducing “symbols” and tree diagrams first in the video, I would use actual coins and dices to show to the students what actually could happen for each combination.  This could demonstrate the concepts behind probability.  I would then let the students experiment with an activity, where they could come up with each combination, in order to draw up with conclusions about the chances of each combination.  I could then use a tree diagram to summarise the different combinations, as reported by students.  The students would also have to apply such concepts of tree diagram in different applications, through wiki or actual real life projects or activities, to reinforce their learning in probability.  A final project presentation by a group of students would then be used to summarise their learning, and to share with other students in the class or community.

I should have used a video to illustrate these.   That would be another interesting project to work on.

How about the current trend in x MOOCs?

Relating to Coursera and Udacity, here is a post critiquing on the issues, and consider them as “failures”. Here the response from Andrej was:

Consider, for example:
– Google Hangouts and groups organized by students
– Online Office hours organized by instructors
– The course forums are relevant as everyone is tackling the same material.
– There is a lot to be said about human psychology and motivation. Presence of deadlines makes you more likely to meet them, and lowers the chances of you falling behind forever and never catching up.

Many people going over the same material at the same time produces more excitement and increases engagement.

I think there are both merits and demerits in such “massive” education and learning, as shared by many who have benefited from those courses – by Heli Nurmi.   Dr Keith Devlin highlights that:

The underlying assumption of university education — at least at major research universities (as Stanford is) — is that the principle value for the student comes from studying with a world expert in a particular domain. Though many professors at research universities do in fact put enormous effort into their teaching, what is really being offered (sold) to students is the expertise (and reputations) of the faculty. (Other parts of the value proposition, such as the prestige of the university, stem from the faculty, both past and present.) It’s a method that works well for very bright, well-prepared, and highly motivated students, but it is not ideal for everyone.

If I were to use the concepts here on social media and social networks, what is critical to mass education and personalised learning is NOT education media but education and learning networks.  This comprises of clusters of education and learning networks, communities, community of practice, where the learners, educators, networkers are engaged, interacted, and connected.  So, it seems that our current trend is not just to “reproduce” content masters, based on content mastery methods – like mastery learning.

What truly revolutionizes education?

What truly revolutionizes education, is to build the connections, the bridge in between these education and learning networks, so learners and other learners, educators, and many other experts could immerse in the communities, in developing and becoming who they would like to be – a master of connections, a master of content and a master of thinking and learning etc.  This requires a shift in the paradigm of knowledge, or new knowledge that is needed to emerge out of networked and formal education and learning.

What sort of learning theory and practice would stand the test of time?

I believe that certain theories and practice could be successfully applied, to a certain extent, but could possibly fail under different circumstances and times.  This aligns with what Thomas Kuhn’s had postulated in his paradigm philosophy:

Kuhn argued that a scientific revolution is a noncumulative developmental episode in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one. But the new paradigm cannot build on the preceding one. Rather, it can only supplant it, for “the normal-scientific tradition that emerges from a scientific revolution is not only incompatible but actually incommensurable with that which has gone before.” Revolutions close with total victory for one of the two opposing camps.

How to ensure a support of a paradigm shift of knowledge?  Communication in electronic environment needs coordination and management.  This is especially important if we would like to have a community where members are communicating and learning within networks of communities, and thus be responsive to the changes in the learning landscape.  This requires learning going beyond classrooms.

Theory practice learning underpins: “take a THEORY you learned in a classroom, put it into PRACTICE in the local community, and after a period of reflection and analysis, a deeper LEARNING will be the result.

Concrete experience is a powerful pedagogical tool, allowing students to internalize theories and concepts by trying them out for themselves.”

Is learning community the solution? In theory, yes.  “Learning community do not represent a “magic bullet” to student learning.  Like any other pedagogy, there are limits to their effectiveness.  Some students do not like learning with others and some faculty find collaborating with other faculty and staff difficult.”  Vincent quotes the findings from Cross, 1998 that there is evidence to support their application enhances student learning and persistence and enriches faculty professional lives.

In conclusion, there are many approaches in learning, where the current methods of videos teaching (with flipped classroom), or MOOCs are just part of the education trend.  What truly revolutionizes education would likely be based on the shifting of education media towards education networks (and community).  Such pedagogy would involve building bridges towards to the becoming of a master, be it a master of connection, master of content, or a master of thinking and learning.   A learning community would support the learning of students and educators, when there are suitable frameworks built and developed.

How would you measure the success of learning within such learning community? When there is a learning community emerging from the education institution or learning networks, where learners could recognise the nuance between their personalised learning via PLE/N and the formalized learning via LMS, and choose the learning that fits into their changing needs and expectations, and most important of all, that would support their fulfillment of personal passions.

Postscript: See this post on Community of Practice.