What are the merits and limitations of sharing under an openness regime?

We are who we are, and I am who I am.  Sounds familiar to you?

If I want to share, what are the merits and limitations?  Should I self-censure? Should I share openly about what I think?  Are there any protocols that I should consider or follow when sharing?  What does it mean when I share openly in social networks and virtual community?   What is my online or virtual identity?  Should I use my real name or pseudo-name?

Here in a post on what not to share – digital professionalism by Dr. Sarah-Louise Quinnell provides some good guidelines.  She shared her thoughts about how dancing has helped her to shift perspectives.  

There are certain topics that may be too sensitive to share openly when blogging.  This post illustrates the issues when one shares openly, that could be interpreted as “crossing the line” in the criticism.  Doctors remain silent by Barry hinted why doctors may be extremely cautious in making comments on blogs or public. Is it worthwhile to take risks in creating posts and making comments in an open space and social media?  This makes me wonder!

Openness is both an attitude and practice embraced by individuals and scholars, and this relates to our virtual and online identity and scholarship.  Could one be exercising with professional judgment without compromising one’s integrity when openness is practiced in social networking?

There are issues relating to copyright and intellectual property.  As an amateur blogger, it is important to understand the principles of defamation, intellectual property infringement and privacy (see this on Blogging and other Social Media).  “In theory, two authors could create identical works and each separately own copyright in the works they create provided they work wholely independently and do not copy each others’ work.”

In summary, there are merits, demerits and risks when sharing in social media, networks and in an open space, through blogging, twitter, Facebook, and Google + etc..  It is imperative to observe and beware of the protocols and limits in our posting of ideas or thoughts openly, especially when there are legal implications when our posts may be crossing the line, in breaching of copyrights, intellectual property, or defamation.

One could be accountable for what one has written, spoken or shared in social media, forums and blogs.  We could be subject to scrutiny by law in the same way as that in real life situation.

Is quality control good enough for MOOCs part 2 – Total Quality Management and MOOCs

This is Part 2 of my previous post on Is quality control good enough for moocs part-1?

Interesting post on MOOCs – Mistaking brand for quality?

Meanwhile, it is risky to assume that university brand is a surrogate for course quality.

Research universities, which have little previous experience of online teaching, dominate the MOOCs offerings and this is evident in the outdated behaviourist pedagogy most in evidence. Most MOOCs are little more than OER with test material added.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to apply Total Quality Management on MOOCs?  As shared in my previous post,  most formal institutions are adopting Total Quality Management as a framework for excellence.  Any online education initiative such as MOOC would soon be audited with the same lens if they are to be credited towards a degree in the university program in Higher Education.

On page 164 of this book on Total Quality Management, there is a checklist on effective learning and teaching.  To what extent are any MOOCs (xMOOCs) meeting those quality criteria set? Here are a collection of recent posts on quality matters with the xMOOCs.  What are the lessons learnt through these MOOCs?

Tony remarks in his post:

What is disappointing is the continual lack of recognition of the research, design and best practices that have come from earlier work on online learning. Frankly, this shows a lack of scholarship that would not be tolerated in other disciplines – and it is coming from those very institutions that place most emphasis on scholarship. They should be incorporating best online practices into MOOCs – as far as the format allows – before throwing them at learners. But that would mean acknowledging that MOOCs are an evolution of online teaching, and not something new invented by Ivy League universities.

As revealed in previous research by Kop, R., Fournier, H., Mak, S.F. J. (2011). A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses.

A challenge associated with the educational use of the Web, social networking, and media, based on the MOOC distributed learning model, is that the open, emergent, chaotic nature of online interaction might conflict with the rigidly organized social structure of formal education, which involves prescriptive learning, standardized goals and curricula, fixed schedules, age-based grouping, classroom-based organization, and examinations. This formal view of education is problematic for professional learning and highlights a tension between learning in everyday life facilitated by emerging technologies and the philosophical stance and the pedagogies adopted by universities. A change in the thinking, philosophy, design, and pedagogies of institution-based online courses may be necessary if the affordances of emerging technologies are embraced and adopted within formal educational institutions.

It could be a huge challenge to adopt MOOC straight into the mainstream institutional education model, especially when there are significant constraints and tensions that could exist relating to the infra-structure, pedagogy and learning support among the various stakeholders.  Total Quality Management works best for best practices, but would not be a perfect model for evaluating and assessing an emergent education platform such as MOOC, where various agents (professors and participants) would likely need to adopt an adaptive learning model in order to achieve the learning outcomes as prescribed in MOOCs.

The plagiarism and identity issue need to be resolved when massive number of students are enrolled in the MOOCs.  These are systemic issues that Higher Education Institutions would need to tackle, in order to maintain integrity in their award of credits and qualifications.

This ISO9001: 2008 has been adopted by many education institutions as benchmarks against best practice in education:

It could be interesting to see how MOOCs could match some of the criteria laid down in this guide on ISO9001.

This QualityMOOC provides some steps toward preparing a quality MOOC, and instructional design for thousands of participants.

May be, the concept of quality has to be re-defined in MOOCs, as the participants of MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular) are “consuming” the content and teaching for free.  Would the needs and expectations of these MOOC participants be the same or similar to those in a registered and paid students in the mainstream course.  Most likely not!

The lack of an integral business model in MOOCs may impose a serious strain on its passing on the audit of TQM.

Should we change the Total Quality Management to something else, when it comes to learning through MOOCs?  I have pondered on this since 2008 when CCK08 was first introduced.

I have reservations in evaluating MOOCs (especially cMOOCs)  using a TQM approach, mainly because cMOOCs are structured on an open, distributed learning network – with complex adaptive network/system.  There is a need to change the formal education system in order for a distributed learning model to emerge.  And this is likely mission impossible at the present moment for formal education institutions.

Does it explain why Sebastian Thrun has to create the Udacity to experiment with the new xMOOCs?

Photo credit: Google Image


I would explore the quality aspect in MOOCs in Part 3.

Reflection of competency-based education, training and Total Quality Management in Education

I don’t quite understand the lagging behind of competency-based programs in Higher Education, as here in Australia competency-based training has been in place for decades.

In Higher Education, many authorities had challenged if Competency based education sets a high enough bench marks or not in “education”, mainly because many competencies are set by the industry, not academics or education authorities.

Aren’t these different from the industrial based competency based standards – set by the industry, for the industry?  People might often think that higher education is preparing people for jobs, so the emphasis in contemporary education would be to treat education similar to training, by equipping students with skills in schools, and making sure that they have acquired the skills for the job or profession.

That is both rational and pragmatic, as one principal goal of education should be to prepare people ahead of their career, so they are work ready, and become a valuable member of the institutions or community they would join in the future.

However, if we reflect on the focus of the educational ideal, vision and mission of higher education, we often find a different set of values being endorsed in the institutions.  The education mission is about developing people to engage, interact with others, with the acquisition of social and interpersonal skills, metacognition and critical thinking, with digital literacies, and be connected to the global community.

In this vision and mission of higher education:

Higher education institutions should educate students to become well informed and deeply motivated citizens, who can think critically, analyse problems of society, look for solutions to the problems of society, apply them and accept social responsibilities.

The xMOOCs are mostly related to “training” of certain job-specific skills (computer programming) or broadcasting programs similar to the TV distance learning, with the difference that it is now offered in short episodes (videos in short clips), with quizzes included in the video clip near to end to check and test understanding.  This is merely automating the education and training with media and tools, with little to no input or contribution from the learners in return.  Such consumption mode of learning would only add “information” into the brain of people, but not always leading to deeper mode of thinking or learning, even if the learners could pass the tests and assignments.

It could be argued that mastery of learning is based on passes on quizzes, tests and assignments.  However, any machines (computers) which have been “taught” how to respond to questions could do better than a human in taking tests and examinations, and this doesn’t prove that the machine is in any way more intelligent than human as it has been taught, though again, there is artificial intelligence that could be built into a machine.

The question is: Do we want people just to “acquire” more information, or do we want people to know how to learn, and to become a more autonomous learner with self-directed learning?

Here in this post relating to a change in culture in higher education, I could sense the adoption of quality circles and Total Quality Management in place in those institutions.  As shared in my previous post on quality matters, it seems that this pattern of embracing a TQM is gradually commonplace in community colleges and certain Higher Education Institutions.  Mandatory personal learning plans, target and goals setting and performance reviews have been in place in industry for decades.  Now it is transplanted to colleges of education, likely by the consultants, administrators and education authorities.  To what extent would that change the quality of education?

Would the incorporation of MOOCs change the culture of those institutions further?  I reckon certain Higher Education Institutions and authorities would still like to uphold their autonomy, in order to stay away from the noises and distractions of certain power imposed upon them from the social media, networks or communities.  So, I could anticipate tensions in between the professional learning community and personal learning networks.  May be it’s time to reflect upon what MOOCs really mean to people, and that we need to understand what a great MOOC would look like, and  it should stand for LEARNING if it is to be meaningful and sustainable.  It is about meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of the customers, via Total Quality Management.