If you build it, they will come!

MOOCs is a bad idea, just like books.  It turns out that this bad idea becomes one of the very first ideas to transform higher education, as witnessed in these few years.

If you build it, they will come, that is where internet was built, the itune was built, and now the MOOCs.

People will come, when there are super professors, elite institutions, and venture capital investors building up the MOOCs.  People are yearning for knowledge, higher education, even though if it is costing them something, just that something they could afford.

People will watch the best professors of the elite institutions presenting their lectures, so far if they could access those videos for free, from any where in the world.   They would be especially thankful, if they are from those developing or under-developing countries, who don’t even have access to Higher Education, or that they are too costly for them.

It is a great idea, coming from the freebies, as I have shared in my past post.  Believe in MOOCs, that would be sustainable, if educators and venture capitalists, institutions are going to build it.  Surely, there would be millions or billions of people coming, who are looking for free Higher Education.

MOOC is a great idea, not a bad one.  Huh!  It motivates people to get the best education in the world!

If you build MOOC, people will come.  Just a matter of time, and how much you could invest into it.

Motivation and Intention in participating and engaging with MOOCs

Is intention an appropriate measure of success of MOOCs?

I reckon each person’s intention in MOOCs is different, though the participation and engagement could likely fall into patterns similar to the four archetypes of MOOCs.

My proposition and assumptions relating to motivation and intention in participating and engaging with MOOCs include:

Psychological factors, Like/dislike of MOOCs (as public/commoditised/monetised goods), credentials achivement, & pedagogy used in MOOC as perceived by people could make a difference.

1. How would people’s perception impact on their intention to learn with MOOCs?

1.1 What factors would determine people’s intention to enroll into MOOCs?

– These students/participants intend to browse and audit the programs.  These participants could include: (a) professors, educators and experts in their field or other fields who would like to have a sense of feel on what MOOCs are, and how they are run; (b) researchers and Master or PhD students who would like to conduct researches on MOOCs, as part their faculties requirements or qualification requirements; (c) participants who are life-long learners, who might have got a degree in the field, or in other fields, but are interested in the field of study.  There might be some people who like the pedagogy, and others who dislike the pedagogy.

– These students/participants intend to engage and interact with part of the course content and or other participants with discussion boards.  These participants could include those of the above, but with an intent to complete a few to most of the activities, assessments or examinations,  but have no intention of getting credits or expecting credentials out of the MOOCs

– These students/participants intend to engage and interact fully with the course content and other participants with the LMS.  These participants are more inclined to like the pedagogy adopted, though again there may be a minority of participants who dislike the approach, but not willing to disclose their emotions or feelings in open public.  These sort of feelings towards courses are typical in learners attending most institution based courses.  Feelings of loneliness, lack of interaction with others and professors, and lack of “support” that relate to motivation could be issues and concerns.  Others include the messiness and frustration emerging from the participation in forum and discussion boards, when trolling and “tangential discussions”, negative criticisms are present in the forum postings, and the concerns of moderation.

1.2 What factors would determine people’s intention to like/dislike MOOCs?

1.3 How would such likes/dislikes translate into learning in MOOCs?

1.4 To what extent would learning styles impact on one’s motivation to learn in MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular)?

1.5 How would each of the factors, likes/dislikes and learning styles relate to the four archetypes of MOOCs – lurkers, passive learners, active learners and drop-ins?

2.  Teaching, social and cognitive presence are often cited as the most important factors in successful online presence.  To what extent are these presence contribute to the successful learning in xMOOCs?

3. What are the goals and motivation of xMOOCs participants?

In this article on 6002x-data-offer-insights-into-online-learning (full article here):

It is noteworthy that:

Participation and performance do not follow the rules by which universities have traditionally organized the teaching enterprise:  MOOCs allow free and easy registration, do not require formal withdrawals, and include a large number of students who may not have any interest in completing assignments and assessments.

This finding aligns with what have been found in previous research:

As our research on PLENK (cMOOCs) revealed, many participants of cMOOCs are putting assessment as (lowest) in priority. This is different from the xMOOCs where assessment is given a high priority by the instructors (professors), and may be some students, especially the undergraduate students who would like to use that to improve their performance with their own courses. Besides, there are lots of graduates and adult learners and educators in cMOOCs who are more interested in learning about the pedagogy, the different learning theories, and the emergent tools and technology. They may already have got their qualifications, or that they aren’t keen in being assessed, or being “instructed” under a “mastery learning approach”. There are also professors, experts, professionals who wish to know how MOOCs are designed and run, and how they might be used in their own fields. These all “contradict” to the initial design of xMOOCs, though could be easily accommodated in cMOOCs, as that is exactly what cMOOCs are designed for.

It should be stressed that over 90% of the activity on the discussion forum resulted from students who simply viewed preexisting discussion threads, without posting questions, answers, or comments.

This is not surprising at all, as such pattern of involvement in discussion forum has repeatedly appeared in previous cMOOCs (see Rita and her colleagues’ research publications on MOOCs).  It is typical to note a highly active participation or posting on the discussion forum at the start of a MOOC followed by an exponential drop in the later part of the course.  Such pattern of engagement may vary from cMOOCs to xMOOCs though as the xMOOCs have numerous assessment components (like homework, examinations) which may lead students to post questions in the discussion forum.

Discussions were the most frequently used resource while doing homework problems and lecture videos consumed the most time.

There are also differences in the cohort of students, with xMOOCs more likely consisting of younger students compared to that of those in cMOOCs.  A more in-depth analysis of the student populations would be needed to compare the xMOOCs and cMOOCs students’ populations.

In xMOOCs, success has been defined by the research authors as the grades students earned.  Measure of success as “achievement”.

In cMOOCs, success has yet to be defined, though many researchers and educators have proposed it to be defined as the achievement of personal goals as set forth whilst participating and engaging with cMOOCs.

“This is also noteworthy that majority of students (75.7%) did not work offline with anyone on the MITx material.”  and that those who did work offline with others have achieved 3 points higher than those who didn’t.  This again illustrates that many students of xMOOCs would likely learn on their own, without resorting to the “help” or “support” from others, especially with a technical course such as MITx- 6002x.

This pattern of online learning seems to coincide with the current mode of learning in an online learning environment, where most students are still learning on their own, with or without the use of PLE/PLN.

Would this pattern of engagement be typical for xMOOCs humanities courses?

These questions posted in the article are interesting for further exploration.

What are students’ goals when they enroll in a MOOC? How do those goals relate to the interaction with various modes of instruction or course components? What facilitates or impedes their motivation to learn during a course? How can course content and its delivery support students’ self-efficacy for learning? Similarly, how can online environments support students’ metacognition and self-regulated learning? Do interventions such as metacognitive prompts and guided reflection improve student achievement or increase retention?

Is Connectivism a New Learning Theory – Part 2

Here is my response to George and others’ comments to my previous post of Is Connectivism a New Learning Theory?

Hi George, Agreed that the theory has to work at an individual level, and it would have to explain and predict how your learning could or do occur. My questions to you include: How do you learn? How has learning occurred to you?

Do you learn through building and or navigation of networks (aggregation, curation of information sources), personal level (neuronal-level connections, thinking and reflection of personal experience (what sort of changes in behavior?), and way of thinking with conceptual connections of various concepts based on those experiences (sense-making)?

In this way Connectivism is based on a thesis that learning is a networking phenomenon and that knowledge is where one could sense and recognise the pattern emerging out of the building and navigation of the networks. Learning is then a dynamic process, with certain adaptive properties associated with the networks, which could happen under a Complex Adaptive System and Knowledge Ecology (Chatti, 2012) (such as a MOOC). This means that when information changes, a person would need to examine the knowledge pattern resulting from those changes. The MOOC movement and the implications are good example illustrating such knowledge pattern. No one single expert (of MOOCs) so far has fully been able to definitely explain the knowledge and learning that are embedded in MOOCs for both the networks and individuals.

However, when individual professors and all associated learners are co-evolving and co-learning with the learners, each would sense the learning emerging out of the interactions or engagement, with some perceiving knowledge and learning with different degrees of meaning – based on sense-making.

Professors and learners (some, if not all) would each define their way-finding (goal setting, learning how to explore their own pathways) resulting from those exploration, connections, engagement or interaction. These sort of learning also result in various interpretations of what constitutes self-determined learning, self-organising learning (both individually and networks and groups) and emergent knowledge and learning, apart from prescriptive knowledge and learning.

There are people who may learn and interact differently from those as defined under the “formalised” and theorised learning approaches, based on legitimate peripheral learning (as peripheral learners) or other reasons (<a href=”http://www.col.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/MOOCsPromisePeril_Anderson.pdf&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>Anderson, 2013</a>).

Such patterns of both individual and social learning are appearing in various forms throughout the cMOOCs in repeated ways, and also re-emerging in xMOOCs despite the “assertion” that the pedagogy is based on Mastery Learning. Indeed, you could associate the learning associated with Connectivism to be an integration of the previous learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and situated learning (and COPs) all based on connections and interactivity (Connectivism).

May I relate to my previous post:”How would a connectivist approach work? Yes, you still require the deconstruction of the student’s existing thinking, but not just based on the teacher’s input. Rather, you would suggest the students to be immersed in networks, based on navigating activities and the using of appropriate tools or media (i.e. media and technology affordance), in exploring about the “right” and “wrong” concepts, and discerning those right from wrong through navigation tools and reflective thinking. This is similar to what I have suggested here:

The concepts that are crystallised through such networked learning may be based on the ability of the learner to recognise and interpret the pattern (i.e. principally on the navigation and exploration, with or without the teachers), rather than the demonstration of the teacher and explanation of the concepts via “Constructivism or Social Constructivism”. This means that the concept development under Connectivism is far more reaching than the typical “classroom” or social networks environment, but would also include technological and media enhancement for its nourishment.”

There are lots of factors which could impact or influence a person’s learning under such a knowledge ecology (MOOCs), including the authority and power exerted through formal authority, professors, peers etc. and the emotional and affective dimensions (likes/dislikes of certain aspects) emerging from the interaction with course, professors, experts, networks, peers, preference of learning based on individual learning styles, autonomy and self-determination or organisation of individuals, and most importantly personal educational and learning experience which would ultimately impact on one’s perception and appreciation or adoption of those properties of networks – openness, diversity, autonomy, and connectivity or interactivity.

Thanks again for your valuable comments and insights.

Anderson, T. (2013). Promise and/or Peril: MOOCs and Open and Distance Education (accessed 3/5/2013)

Chatti, M. (2012). The LaaN Theory