A reflection of MOOC Learning Design Part 2

I am interested in the Learning Design of MOOC, as I have posted here.  I still haven’t been able to conclude what would be the most valuable one – based on x and c MOOCs, as they seem to address different cohorts of learners, though there are always common principles which would give rise to great learning experience in MOOC.

Relating to OLDS MOOC, Jenny asks how much prescription is needed to facilitate emergent learning, or indeed, any learning.

My response to Jenny’s post on learning design:

I think I have now become a practitioner of emergent learning, rather than just a theorist. If we are to look at what actually happens in the open learning spaces – the COPs, the networks, they are all so vibrant, so fluid, & adaptive. Even the xMOOCs are moving along that trajectory, IMO, as many professors like Keith Devlin has done. Many MOOCs educators have co-designed and co-developed their MOOCs based on the changing needs and responses of the participants. I hope more researchers and scholars could appreciate why a networked and emergent approach towards designing a curriculum is both necessary and important for its sustainability. I have composed a blog post sharing what a just in time approach would be like, based on a connectivist approach. I just think the more autonomy a MOOC allows for the participants to experience and experiment, the better would be the outcome of learning. Aren’t we trying to encourage all these participants to experiment with the state of the art – cutting edge technology? Jenny’s papers on emergent learning provide a rich resource for such curriculum design. I know you have also got great resources on the design of curriculum – with the great books written. What do you think? John

Jenny in her post on emergent-learning-the-designers-role-the-learners-experience says:

Our experience (i.e. the authors of Footprints of Emergence) is that drawing a footprint from the design perspective and from the learner experience perspective can result in very different images for the same course. This raises the question of whether designer intentions and learner experience can be aligned.

If they can’t, then to what extent can the learner experience be validated by anyone other than the learner?

If the designer’s intentions and learner experience are not aligned, then the learner’s experience could still be validated based on an emergent approach – for instance, by suggesting learner to document and reflect on their learning using their own set of curriculum, and developed criteria for assessments.  This is actually the case for some of the learning for PhD’s students, whereas they are expected to explore the forefront of knowledge and create their own space, and thus develop new knowledge that could contribute to their specialised domain.  Other ways for validation includes the commenting and reflection on each others’ blog posts, collaboration with others in communities and networks, cooperation with others in joint writings on wikis or research, leading to the publication of research papers, just like what some of the participants of MOOCs have done in the past.  The use of e-portfolio and PLE are also good means for self-assessment, which could be validated by the learner’s immediate mentor or coach on an ongoing basis, rather than the course instructor or professor.

This would likely address the alignment issue in a totally different way though some of the above approaches might need to be developed and documented using a social contract or agreement, in order to ensure openness and transparency is maintained.

The validity, authenticity, reliability and fairness issues relating to the evidences collected in such assessment would also need to be thoroughly examined and addressed in such a course, in an ongoing basis, in order to cater for the emergent learning that evolved.

Should we expect learners bend to fit the curriculum/learning design or should the learning design bend to fit the learner? This is a difficult question if you don’t know who your learners are going to be, e.g. in MOOCs.

So finally, at what point is a mismatch between design intentions and learner experience constructive and at what point is it destructive and how might this affect emergent learning?

My response is: If we are to structure a MOOC based on self-directed learning and self-organised learning, with an ultimate goal of supporting learners in sense-making and way-finding, then learner experience must be catered for in such a course, in order to continue in supporting the learner’s learning.  This is similar to the principles of Ergonomics, whereas we should be designing the machines, environment to suit individuals, rather than re-molding or changing the individuals to suit the machines or environment.  It would take another post to elaborate on this important learning principle.

Jenny posted an insightful post here on emergent learning. My response as shown below:

Hi Jenny, Well said, and a great summary.  I watched the videos, and reflected on them in my blog too, though I related to my experience in a slightly different way – on landscape of practice.  What I would like to add is Dave Snowden’s views about emergent learning, based on his model of Cynefin (see this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7oz366X0-8).

Emergent learning would be best fit to complex (and possibly chaotic) learning scenarios, rather than complicated and simple scenarios, so the risks involved would likely be high and would need to be adequately controlled and constrained when “managed” under an institutional framework.  The current debates about the best business model for MOOCs well illustrate such difficult decision about the embracing of MOOC in their organisation, as education business is no longer confined to a closed system of space.  There are stakeholders – students, participants, and various outside government authorities callings – with different demands, like compliance to accreditation and assessment, peer assessment, credits awards to degrees, badge awards, etc.  These are ongoing debates and could ultimately influence the curriculum design designed by the designers and institutions.  Some of the professors of MOOCs have to drop their original designs – like certain assignments, or examinations, in light of the feedback from participants, and concerns about cheating, plagiarism.  All these point to the need of a continuous and critical review of how the curriculum of MOOCs should be planned and structured “in the first place”.  These examples of emergent learning are rarely perceived as “footprints of emergence” as not every one perceived them that way.  Perhaps, there aren’t one single participant who could master all these concepts and principles in a holistic way, and this requires substantial experience in sense-making and way-finding in order to un-earth these unusual phenomena and explain the tacit knowledge in an explicit way.  There aren’t text-books or design handbooks detailing the underlying principles of emergence that relate to a connectivist and emergent nature of MOOC (both cMOOCs and xMOOCs) except what you and Roy have done so far, IMO.  Back to you.  John

4 thoughts on “A reflection of MOOC Learning Design Part 2

  1. Pingback: A reflection of MOOC Learning Design Part 2 | Educación a Distancia (EaD) | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: A reflection of MOOC Learning Design Part 2 | Learning Allsorts | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: Cognitive Strategies and Affective dimensions in MOOCs | Learner Weblog

  4. Pingback: A reflection of MOOC Learning Design Part 2 | M...

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