Traditions, cultures and MOOCs.

Thanks Stephen for such an insightful post on MOOC – Resurgence of Community in Online Learning. He says:

The recent MOOCs offered by companies like Coursera and Udacity have commercialized course brokering. They take a course offered by one university and make it available to other institutions to host in on-campus peer communities.
Of course, this is a model that the K-12 community has employed for any number of years. It is common to see a single course taught from one location and delivered to other locations by means such as video conferencing and interactive environments.

That’s basically a community model of education, under a MOOC banner, though quite distinct from the traditional single institution basis of formal higher education.

MOOC relates to community and community of practice, and more than ever, people have already realized the importance of sourcing education and learning from different institutions, networks (social networks), and  communities.

I have been thinking long about those three criteria that you mentioned: mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire. Based on what I have experienced in MOOC, the COPs evolved over virtual space during and after MOOC do exhibit those criteria within small clusters of COPs where some of the participants were situated. Relating to the learning, meaning, and identity of the members of COP, this is where the landscape of practice – a digital and virtual space where the members visited or resided upon. That’s why I would suggest to reformulate the criteria that are typically used in COP. This would reflect more fully the new and emerging structure of MOOC (as a conglomeration of COPs and Networks) that is evolving, emerging and morphing along the digital landscape, not being bounded by the conventional structures. In other words, the unstructure becomes the structure, and uncourse becomes the course, and finally the unCOPs become the COPs. This is happening in lots of COPs too, where the lifespan of physical COPs are transforming into a blend of COPs, all re-defining the meaning of learning, meaning and identity in new and emerging ways. I would need to restudy the research findings (our CCKs, PLENK2010, and other study) to substantiate such claims. The latest study by Wenger et al could also be used to study such patterns.

In this Network as a Learning Theory by Chatti, he says:

Within LaaN, the notion of legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) – which is very close to Vygotsky’s ZPD – is absent. In LaaN, role models are not strictly defined. There is no distinction between “newcomers, novices, or peripheral participants” and “old-timers or masters”. Every
participant is equally treated as a knowledge networker. Unlike CoPs, which are characterized by a single movement from the periphery to the center, in a knowledge ecology, the center does not hold and the movements occur in unpredictable directions.

In LaaN, by contrast, the primary focus is on the individual learner and her PKN. Knowledge development in LaaN is driven by the learning demands of the learner, rather than the community in which she belongs. In contrast to Wenger’s learning theory, where learning for an individual is “an issue of engaging in and contributing to the practices of their communities” (p. 7), LaaN views learning for an individual as an issue of continuously building, maintaining, extending, and restructuring her PKN.

How do these relate to tradition, culture and cultural awareness and intelligence?

People change and learn for their own reasons, not any one else.  Some people would shape education when they have the power to do so, whilst others would change their learning habits to adapt to a certain culture, especially at work.  These are all based on certain principles on culture and change.

Involvement of the learner. When you want culture to change you have to put yourself into the shoes of the person who needs to change. You can do this by involving them as much as possible. Change brought about in a clumsy or unthoughtful way will rebound, in the end, on management. As everyone learns slightly differently, as a leader and manager it is essential that you involve your learners in deciding their own optimal learning process.

Same principles could be applied to cultural identities and their roots to education. When people of different cultures intersect, these could lead to sparks of “conflicting views” and people naturally might be rubbing against each others, when there are differences in the cultural values. This is apparent in the different perceptions and beliefs about certain traditions, cultures in education.

The latest advances in online education and learning as manifested through MOOCs challenged the status quo of HE, though at the same time has awaken the giants to respond to the grass-roots quests for changes and innovation. The MOOC phenomenon seems to have uprooted the long-held belief of one size suits all best sort of economic mass education, though it has replaced it with even stronger behaviorist-one to few winners take all sort of over-arching education model.

Would this cultural belief align with the beliefs of different cultures? As Ana said, when people are too accustomed to spoon feeding, with reactive learning rather than proactive learning, and knowledge as consumption mode of education, xMOOCs would likely be viewed as the favorite of the month and year, and cMOOCs would be viewed as education of the past, rather than the future. Even the hybrid mode would still be viewed as a mere re-configuration of the present MASSIVE EDUCATION.

As shared, there are still long held beliefs and cultures on education where the gatekeepers would take hold of the keys, and doors would only be opened with those keys. cMOOCs are however based on the philosophy that people would connect and share the secret keys in opening the doors, by sharing their cultures and beliefs, rather than asking for the known keys that are kept only by the gatekeepers.

I have used keys as metaphor of MOOCs though we could easily relate that to the Lord of the Ring, where the Ring is the MOOCs.  May be the community would take the role of the ring, when time ripens.

I think one of the areas of opportunities that cMOOCs could tap into is the cultural awareness and intelligence. That seems to be neglected in a world of MOOCs where people are meeting each others who are coming from different cultures, languages, and educational and social backgrounds. Another possibility is to use “Total Intelligence TQ” or “Integrated Intelligence” (like an integration and synthesis of Multiple Intelligence + CQ +Social and Emotional Intelligence) to reflect on the multiple talents and intelligence each of us have, potentially and inherently.

This is a huge topic, and there is where diversity of opinions would lead to a Collective Wisdom of the Crowds, though some would argue that these would dilute the role of experts. In a Chinese saying: “The ideas of three guys could be better than the best strategist (a person named Chu Got Hung Ming in Ancient China who was one of the wisest military strategists).

If we could better understand each other’s culture, then that would promote cultural identity, multi-cultural understanding and appreciation, and thus leading to a more harmonious global community. Would this lead a resolution of many education, cultural and social conflicts which seem apparent in MOOCs, institutions, webs, communities and internet? Education shouldn’t be staying with knowledge only, it should embrace human values and cultural identities, in order for human to prosper.

In summary, MOOC relates to community and community of practice, and more than ever, people have already realized the importance of sourcing education and learning from different institutions, networks (social networks), and  communities.  MOOCs have become a community based sort of online education and learning, and this has evolved into a cluster of institutions providing Higher Education courses, with MOOC providers as brokering agents.

When people are too accustomed to spoon feeding, with reactive learning rather than proactive learning, and knowledge as consumption mode of education, xMOOCs would likely be viewed as the favorite of the month and year, and cMOOCs would be viewed as education of the past, rather than the future.  People are “buying” in with the xMOOCs for reasons as simple as: branding and easier to learn (as all information are already curated for them), and that a strong belief still with the instructivist approach reigns best, at least, that is what institutions want to see – a complete control under an institutional framework of education. Is that xMOOC sustainable? From a historical perspective, this fate would be like cMOOCs being “decimated” and “replaced” by xMOOCs (to some extent) (Mak, 2013).

If we could better understand each other’s culture, then that would promote cultural identity, multi-cultural understanding and appreciation, and thus leading to a more harmonious global community.

Should education be seen as a free good? How about MOOCs?

I have been pondering on this important question since the inception of OERs in the early 2000s.

In this post, Andre Dua says:

it’s equally important that education not be seen as a free good, because it will always take big investments to attract and retain the talent needed to develop world-class courses and materials. Unless new online platforms are associated with meaningful revenue streams—from textbooks, tutoring, proctored exams, per-degree fees, or creative alternatives not yet imagined—the model will prove self-defeating.

MOOCs have been viewed as freebies to a certain extent.  Here I am posting part of it for sharing:

I am in favor of open, free education.  The reality is: education has become a business.  For a business to survive and thrive, it must be profitable.

Does education need to be “profitable” if it is run on a business model?

We need to have a sustainable education. Where will the finance needed to run education be coming from?  Would it be from the government, venture capitalists, businesses, charitable organization, or philanthropists?

The Story

Here is a fictitious story that I learnt through a very old movie, back in the 60s.

There once lived a group of kind-hearted and loving people in a Chinese village.   These “good” people were so kind to each others that they ran their “small business” and offered their service to other people in the village at a very low price and low profit margin.  These good people provided all sorts of services including the provision of hair cuts and selling of buns often with little to low charges for those old people, young kids, and those who were poor.

Soon, news were spread about such great acts of love and serving others, with a spirit of altruism to the neighbours.    This also  attracted a lot of jealousy from other people in the village who had lost their profits because of these good people’s wonderful business and acts.

Some people in the village decided to compete with these good people by offering their services of hair- cutting and selling of buns at a cut-throat price.

Here, the competition began.

The good people decided that they would offer their hair cut and their buns for near to a zero cost.  And they attracted hundreds of customers from their village.

The other group responded by offering their hair cuts and buns for free.   And the customers immediately flocked to their free service.

Here, the good people decided to offer “free buns” for every hair cuts offered to their customers.  That seemed to be the perfect way of running business and serving the society.

In a modern world, isn’t that the perfect model of socialism where everyone enjoys the freedom of choice and wonderful free services and social equity?  May be free service and products for everyone is the best way to serve a society, based on the concept and principles of “free, open education”.

Is that what a Utopian society should look like?

So do you want to know what happens next?  Both groups of people were competing so fiercely that they ended up not getting any profits from the customers, their fellow villagers.

That wasn’t the end of story.  That was only the beginning of the story, where learning started.   Those good people realized that they had to re-think and reflect on what it means to offer free services for all in the community.

That is the story.

The modern Story of MOOCs

Those were the days of the MOOCers in the 60s.  Is it significantly different from that of the MOOCers of the 2012s?  May be not.

How would our story of MOOCs end?  We might have to re-think about how we could offer our services to the world for free.  Internet has opened up the opportunities of free, open education for everyone.  Providers of MOOCs are trying to leverage the “power” and value of internet and webs  to achieve their visions.

But would anyone be able to beat the disruptive technology and its associated free open education offered through internet and social networks?

Here is a nice update on MOOCs.  MOOCs are now charged for institutions to use, though most users could still register for free for some of those MOOCs.