Reading and Study Habits

Thanks to Fabian for this post.  Here is the related post on coursesmart-e-textbooks-track-students-progress-for-teachers.

“The possibilities of harm are tremendous if teachers are naïve enough to think these scores mean anything for the vast majority of students,” Professor Dede said.

CourseSmart says the data it collects now is a beginning. “We’ll ultimately show how the student traverses the book,” Mr. Devine said. “There’s a correlation and causality between engagement and success.”

Interesting. Such tool could be useful if we use it wisely. The main concerns still lie with privacy, confidentiality, security and autonomy of students. Should professors intervene after knowing about students’ habits. To what extent should students’ habits be “studied”, without their consent? What are the ethical issues here? Should education be “neutral” in the imposition of certain “valued” habits, or should students be offered with choice or advice if they want them only?

Cooperation in Networks and/or Collaboration in Groups/Communities?

One of the significant differences between working and learning in Networks and Groups/Communities lie with the basis: Cooperation versus Collaboration. George’s post on collaboration using adhoc groups and communities raises some interesting points.

The current MOOC providers have adopted a regressive pedagogy: small scale learning chunks reminiscent of the the heady days of cognitivism and military training. Ah, the 1960′s. What a great time to be a learner. In order to move past this small chunk model of learning, MOOC providers will need to include problem based learning and group learning in their offerings. That won’t be easy. MOOCs have high dropout rates. Which means that if you’re assigned to a group of 10 learners, by the end of the course, you’ll be the only one left. The large MOOCs can improve the quality of learning by creating a model for rapid creation/dissolution of groups.

I agree with George’s points that most of the strategies adopted with the current xMOOC seems to rely heavily on cognitivism and military training, where skills are emphasized and presented in a linear sequence, with content and procedural knowledge taught with the right answers in mind.

Would you be able to skip the steps in working through some of the learning materials?  May be not, as your responses to the quizzes show that you haven’t fully grasped the concepts for the video lesson. What we might have assumed in this approach is that behaviorism and cognitivism – based on the notion instructivism work best in MOOC, and that students must keep on practising on the skills acquired to achieve mastery, the Mastery Learning as proposed by Benjamin Bloom. That’s where Mastery Learning reigns supreme, as every learner must achieve mastery at the basic level before one could progress to the next level of skills or knowledge.  The one-on-one tutoring would be best when applied to high school learning, as reported in this article (Bloom, 1984) relating to Mastery Learning and Tutoring. That makes sense if the procedures govern how knowledge is structured in a unit, in a progressive education system.  It may serve the industry and business where strict compliance is the norm, and that following instructions based on a hierarchical structure of command and control, industrialist model of operations is the ultimate goal.  Nevertheless, Mastery Learning may still be related solely to the personal competency (in the acquisition of technical or specific skills) and personal goal’s achievement.  Doe Mastery Learning address social learning that is critical  when working with others in the classroom environment or at work?  May be to a certain extent.

Problem based learning, group learning and project based learning have all been used effectively in an institutional learning environment, and have great potentials in an online and networked learning environment.  Up till now, their use in MOOCs seem to be rather limited, especially when participants of MOOCs are finding it difficult to know who the other participants are and who they should work or partner with on those problems or projects.

My experience is that working in small groups in MOOCs would work to a certain extent, provided the group members appreciate the need and contribution of each of its members, and that they all work towards common and agreed goals within a timeline.  This is far from easy when working in a networked learning environment, where people in the networks have different goals and preferences in their learning.

What are the implications of working in groups and networks in MOOCs?  See my previous post here, and here on my views.