Teaching and Learning in MOOCs

What sort of teaching and learning experience is most valuable in MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular)?

In this video Peter Norvig reflects on his experience whilst teaching his AI MOOC.

Every student is a teacher, and every teacher is a student. Couldn’t agree more.  Relating to the setting of deadlines as an “innovation”, that sounds like a back to the basic – push to students, using a behavioral approach.  For me, I think it depends on what sort of learning is needed.  For deep and personalized learning, I do think we would need to allow more autonomy for the students, so they could set up the goals, pace their learning with timelines whenever possible, instead of setting the pace for everyone to take, just like that in a traditional classroom.  This would allow slow learners to learn more progressively, and fast learners to speed up their learning too.

Open versus close learning

Scott says in this Close Learning:

I propose that we begin calling it “close learning.” “Close learning” evokes the laborious, time-consuming, and costly but irreplaceable proximity between teacher and student. “Close learning” exposes the stark deficiencies of mass distance learning such as MOOCs, and its haste to reduce dynamism, responsiveness, presence.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/07/11/essay-calls-alternative-massive-online-learning#ixzz2YsrXRYFm
Inside Higher Ed

I see open and close learning the 2-sides of the same coin, just as rote/shallow and deep learning – that are all coined learning, just dependent on the approach of learning and the pedagogy employed. Here is my sharing.

MOOCs are platforms, tools (embedded with technology) and philosophy, where there is no one right set of approach, though one could use instructivism, cognitivism, constructivism and social constructivism, and connectivism.

The present xMOOCs seem to rely heavily on instructivism, and that seems to resonate with the super-professors and xMOOC providers and administrators. All the posts we found seem to relate to connectivism though, where collective wisdom is distilled through conversation, Socratic questioning and responses, and critique with more in-depth understanding of each others’ views.

To what extent are these compatible with the face to face (25 plus) students interactive experience? It depends on what sort of learning that we are referring to, isn’t it? If we are referring to prescriptive knowledge and definitive learning outcomes, surely face to face teaching and learning would be far better way to share the learning experiences, within the 1 hour session.

However, if you want to solicit more ideas, more “words” of wisdom from a diversified source, then the current blogging conversation (as part of PLE) would provide that sort of interesting points of views.

I reckon every learner is different, and that depends on the learning style, background knowledge, skills and experience, when it comes to learning. One size doesn’t suit all, and so are MOOCs. Treat MOOCs as tools, and if we like, an experiment and game to play with. If it doesn’t work, ask why, and how to make it work better. Is that what (we) want?

#Change11 #CCK12 Technology and design in teaching

This week’s session by Diana Laurillard – Digital support for teaching as a design science.

that teachers need and deserve better digital support to help them take learning technologies into more interesting terrain than has been explored so far

There are four propositions Diana would like to cover over the course of the week.

1. The fundamental nature of the learning process in formal education is not likely to change much, but the means by which we do it will

2. Digital technologies have much to offer formal education, but have been badly under-exploited so far, so we must look to teachers to drive more interesting forms of pedagogy using technology

3. Teachers, like other design professionals, need to build on each others’ best ideas for how to teach to intended learning outcomes

4. The digital support teachers need includes (i) an ontology for pedagogical patterns; (ii) a user-oriented interface for expressing pedagogic ideas; (iii) a common repository where pedagogical patterns can be published, organised, and accessed; (iv) a knowledge base that is capable of responding to the community of users; (v) an advice and guidance wiki that the teaching community can develop, and the design tool can draw upon for advice on designs.

Based on the propositions posted by Diana, I have the following questions in mind, together with my responses:

1. What is the role of technology in teaching and learning? 2. What sort of technology affordance is most effective for (a) teaching, (b) learning?

In this Digital learning now:

“Digital learning is any type of learning that gives students some element of control over time, place, path and/or pace. It allows students to learn in their own way, on their own timetable, wherever they are, whenever they can.

Students are using digital learning everywhere – except school. They are gaming, texting and posting on the Internet. Imagine if we channel those digital skills into learning? Student achievement would skyrocket!”  See this digital learning report too.

Technology that is not too hard or too soft, just about right as elaborated by Ailsa.  I have also shared my views about the role of technology – based on pedagogy

The not too hard, not too soft, just right approach in MOOC  and orchestration of phenomena for some use, where Jon says: “It can thus become many technologies. On reflection, and looking at the video, I realise that it was a mistake to describe the stick itself as a soft technology it is not. The stick is a part of a great many (probably an infinite number) of soft technologies.

I think that this cuts to the heart of a great many of the mistakes that we make when we talk about learning technologies. We often make the assumption that, because the same thing is involved from one context to the next – a learning management system, a discussion forum, email, a whiteboard, a classroom, a teaching method, etc – that we are talking about the same technology. We are not.”

To this end, I think it sounds similar to the Yin and Yang in the use of technology here and here. The affordance of technology is based principally on the evolving Yin and Yang, and how you “manipulate” technology to accomplish the task, solve the problem, or to connect to the nodes or networks, thus creating, navigating the networks (distributed knowledge and learning) both creatively and sustainably.

In so it ends by Jon Dron, he suggests a number of relatively simple collective-based solutions:

  • collaborative filtering
  • tag clouds
  • reputation management
  • visualisation
  • adaptive hypermedia

Technology in itself might not necessary provide the desirable outcome in education, but it surely serves a wide range of purposes in informal learning.  It is the appropriate application of technology based on particular contexts that would provide meaningful and valuable learning experience to the educators and learners in formal learning scenarios.

2. What are some of the implications of using technology in education and learning?

Danah’s post discusses about fear, attention and power associated with social media and technology.

Here she says:

“One of my favourite maxims about the role of technology in society is called Kranzberg’s first law. He argues that “technology is neither good nor bad – nor is it neutral”. It’s irresponsible to assume that the tools being built just wander out into the world with only positive effects. Technology doesn’t determine practice, but how a system is designed does matter. How systems are used also matters, even if those uses aren’t what designers intended.”

Though there are positive trends in the use of technology, there are still weaknesses in the pedagogical use of technology in classroom setting.

3. What is the expectation of the education system?

Within the current education system, educators are expected to help, prepare, and support learners to do well in standardized tests and examinations.  That is also based on the preamble that purpose of education would be the achievement of learning outcomes.   The achievement of excellent result in public examination is then viewed as the gateway towards universities studies.

George Siemens remarks that “If a good teacher is one that prepares learners to succeed on standardized tests, then we’re in trouble. I encountered this odd conflict numerous times in the conference: on the one hand, the need for innovative and creative learners is promoted…but on the other hand, the metrics of reward in the system promote normalization.”

So, what would educators want to achieve, given the expectations by the public and learners?

4. What do educators want to achieve in the education process?

5. What do learners want to achieve in the learning process?

George says: “I know that this is not trendy – connectivism being the MOOC #change11 approach (and one which I am following) – but at school level constructivism is far more useful.

Students (in schools), then, should construct their own knowledge. The teaching and activity sequence is largely determined by the teacher. Activities are selected for them that enable them to “construct local expertise” by using the contingent teaching approach (described by Wood, p80, 1988).”

Here I would like to share my learning experience.

6. To what extent is the statement true?“…if innovative teaching practices are connected without technology you get great experience with no scale; technology applied without great teaching, you get very little change…; great innovative teaching with great technology you get scale and change and lasting impact” in Anthony’s presentation and shared in the post by George.

7. What sort of course design would provide the most effective and successful teaching and learning?

Proper course design based on a scientific approach would help in the teaching process.  In my previous post, student owned engagement model sounds pretty impressive in systematically driving the learning towards the achievement of goals.

In theory, the principles involved a course design include those mentioned in this video:

– Complexity of content and skills required to understand the content are designed into the course which would not be too hard (which would lead to frustration, confusion) or too simple (which would lead to boredom) for the participants

– the various elements of the course are signposted, updated and referred to using social signifiers or artificial design pointers – like recommender systems or curators (RSS, OL Daily), aggregators (delicious).

How about the reality, as pointed out by David Jones?

8. What are those design principles in formal courses?

There are a few key elements in a contemporary course design.


That design follows the design based inquiry as proposed.

In MOOC, the course design is fluid and change is the core principle embedded in the design.  Sometimes, it could be perceived as a blending of various theories, with Connectivism as its driver and conduit to learning.  Would this also explain why participants are interpreting Connectivism somewhat differently?

9. What are the implications of MOOCs (not only MOOCs of CCK, PLENK2010, CHANGE11, and LAK12, but Coursera, Udacity) or, Khan Academy (not sure if it is called a MOOC))

David comments here:

I am a college professor and am interested in the MOOC phenomenon primarily because it seems to have the potential to reduce demand for college professors. If Stanford can award hundreds of thousands of degrees online, why would anyone go to a lesser ranked institution (e.g., Iowa State U., where I work)?

It also leads to a re-structuring of the power and autonomy when a course is really open and allow for a diversity of opinions and connections.