I read Jenny’s post on the selfish blogger with great interests.
Below is the comment in response to Stephen’s post on What Connectivism is
Hi Stephen, After reading your excellent post and all comments from others, I am more than convinced on the approach towards connectivism, in that it could add a new dimension towards learning, and help in understanding how we learn in a networked environment, especially the complex digital adaptive ecology.
First, as you have stated in various presentations, connectivist approach encourages and builds on connections, where learning is viewed as ontology rather than a static view. Second, different views under a connectivist approach is a healthy one, which to me also encourages each of us to reflect more deeply on the values of communication and interaction, and the importance of sharing of tacit and explicit (views/knowledge) in the learning process. Your example on chess playing illustrates the importance of pattern recognition, not mere knowledge per se. I resonate your views when I played with Chinese Chess. It’s the strategy that wins and the establishment of pattern which is the fun behind, not the one or two steps that lie ahead that determines the pattern, or the “knowledge” in playing chess.
May be what makes a fundamental difference with connectivism to all other approaches or theories would be that its application in external digital and virtual social networking and educational networks in particular, where we may not be seeing each other face to face, and so all those “meaningful learning in a traditional teaching” doesn’t translate into a reality.
I could sense the friction coming out of some of the interactions above, especially with the notion of techno-communism from CatFitz point of view, which sounds interesting.
I would applaud Stephen in sharing this important message on connectivism, where technology is accelerating and enhancing the mode of learning across the networks and individuals, even if people don’t want to see or accept connectivism as a new learning theory. Time will tell.
Thanks to Heli for the link in her post on quality of connection. I think this was a very emotional talk by Dr Brown. Getting “A”s and perfection in the academia is praised as the perfect achievement of personal goals and academic success. This sort of achievement seems to be very different from our real lives after “school” where we have to live in imperfection. This reflects our lives with authenticity and that often leads to a crossing between worthiness and unworthiness amongst us as we “struggle” with life.
Shame, fear, unworthiness seem to be “natural” part of life, and an offspring of personal study, learning, career, family upbringing, parenting, and ageing. I don’t think people would share these feelings openly in social networks, in fear of personal security being hacked or an over exposure of private life to the public. These have long term implications – on personal academic studies, marriage, career and reputation in one’s life.
People likes to associate with others who could empathise their feelings and emotions, especially when they are in despair, in vulnerability. Would such feelings of vulnerability be too hard to share in academia, in social networks, or in open connections? Why? That would be perceived by others as living without perfected emotional literacy, critical thinking, in confidence, competent at work, or in personal life. People would only share academic success but not much on life “failures” because that could lead to shame and fear in his or her life. Isn’t that the dilemma between academic success and personal life struggles (feeling weak and vulnerable)?
Why would people like Dr Brown feel vulnerable? Have some of us felt that way in our life journey?
Why would we have to numb our emotions, feeling in face of adverse personal issues or circumstances? Aren’t we all looking for an optimistic way of living?
Would this be a cultural “issue” or an international phenomena? The “pretend” issue just reflect what many of us are facing – we are living in a society that is so complex, filled with complex issues, dilemmas, and emotions, and advertising memes that so often we could be both fascinated and overwhelmed with information, power and politics, and personal life struggles.
How would we deal with these in social networks? How would emotional education in our society – emotional control & intelligence help?
What strategies have you adapted to overcome those feelings of loneliness, imperfection and vulnerability?
This is a continuation of the discourse on MOOC. Here I would like to relate to questions that I think would be important. Such issues were discussed by George, Stephen, Jenny, Rita and many others who had led or participated in MOOC.
What’s wrong with MOOC? Should MOOC be a course or an uncourse? Should MOOC be treated like an event (or a conference)? What about assessment in MOOC?
Is accreditation important in an online course? What are the options available to assessment and accreditation in online course such as MOOC? What are the implications of those options?
What were the lessons learned from MOOC?
What’s wrong with MOOC?
An interesting discussion here about unlearning in MOOC.
Would (M)OOc’s be any more successful with self organised learners drawn from non traditional non-institutional backgrounds? Those from a clean slate un-schooled environment who did not have to unlearn previous potentially inefficient ways of learning?
Would this depend on the design and delivery of MOOC and the target participants? I don’t seem to see many un-schooled learners actively involved in a “formal” online course such as MOOC, though there might be some that I wasn’t aware of. One could argue that they may be lurkers rather than active participants, likely due to the lack of skills or Critical Literacy in participating in MOOC. There are simply too many assumptions here.
Another challenge is the stereo-typing of young learners who are really smart and talented, but are very active in social networking, on Facebook, Twitters, etc, and that they might find the traditional school settings too limited to their learning. Some of these young learners might be highly creative, as could be revealed in the Youtube videos they produced, based on re-purposing and re-mixing, and would prefer active learning through actions such as production of videos or podcasts, slides, photos, rather than being lectured, or spoon fed with information or knowledge, and thus asked to sit in tests or examinations to demonstrate their competency or capability.
Who would benefit most from MOOC?
I have shared some of my views on participation in MOOC here.
So, what and how would people (including un-schoolers) benefit from MOOC?
Stephen comments in the Daily:
George Siemens writes about “what’s wrong with (M)OOCs” and while he identifies some of the common criticisms – high drop out rates and declining participation, the need for technical skills, learners expressing their frustration at feeling disconnected and lost – I think that the main problem with them is that they are in fact courses, isolated islets in a sea of disconnected meaning. The people who are disconnected, unskilled and drop out are people who have spent their entire lives being given content on a platter to memorized, and we don’t do it that way.I think our approach is the right approach, but that it will take time to establish as something like the norm.
Jenny remarks in her What’s wrong with MOOC? Some thoughts
But within the traditional system of accreditation and validation there are considerable constraints on what we can achieve. Anyone who is paying for a course – open or not – is going to have expectations of what they get for their money and that usually means, in my experience, of the level of tutoring/facilitation they receive.
I agree with Jenny’s views, in particular that there are certain expectations from participants, especially when it relates to accreditation and value for “money” in a corporate world of education.
Is high drop out rates and declining participation a concern from an educational perspective? A resounding yes?
My questions are: Should MOOC be viewed as a course or an educational and learning experience instead? Why? In a typical online course, the success is determined by a number of factors such as: (a) pass rates, (b) participation and engagement of participants (instructors & learners) in the course, (c) quality of learning, and (d) achievement of course or unit outcomes. If we are to reflect on each of those criteria against MOOC, then we may find that:
(a) Pass or course completion rate: this is not relevant to MOOC (PLENK and CritLit), and there are no assessment components, and so the pass criteria is not applicable.
(b) Participation and engagement of participants: this may be part of the criteria in judging the “success” of MOOC. However, participation and engagement could take many different forms – in open and or closed space, in the periphery (as lurkers) or at core (active engagement in blog postings and comments, or blogging communities) and forum discussion, Second Life discussion, Elluminate session discussion, and research, or under private emails discussion, message or chat conversation in different media spaces. Would these all be captured under the PLENK2010 hashtags?
How and why participants participate and engage in these modes would unlikely be known. Why?
Our current research indicated that only a very small portion of the participants (around 3 – 4%) would respond to a formal research in MOOC/PLENK.
Even with the learning analytics (via Google analytics, or other tools), only those conversations or engagement tagged with PLENK2010 would be captured. There are many other discussion and discourse that relate to MOOC – PLENK which are not under the radar of research and so we might need to develop alternative ways to account for such participation, interaction and engagement.
(c) Quality of learning: This relates to the value, expectations on teaching and learning, and meeting of the needs of the learners. As PLENK relates to personal learning (though it also relates to how one associates his/her learning with others or network, and how and why such networks are created and developed), this could only be assessed most appropriately through individual assessment and reflection. I would however think that some of the quality of learning could be revealed through the research findings.
(d) Achievement of course or unit outcomes/performance: This could be a challenging one for MOOC, as the assessment criteria has to be based on individual’s set goals and outcomes, rather than a centrally pre-set course outcomes. Could assessment be set aside in MOOC, so that assessment be done through a natural eportfolio approach? These portfolio evidences may then be assessed by a third party or university as previously suggested by Stephen Downes via his various presentations. This would relieve the networked learning constraints on personal autonomy in a MOOC (as shared by Jenny in her post What’s wrong with MOOC? Some thoughts ).
Should MOOC be a course or an uncourse?
In reflection, I think MOOC could be designed and delivered as a hybrid of course and uncourse – that it is a course for those who want to study with a structured format, with clear learning outcomes and objectives, specific course content and elements, and pre-determined assessment or performance criteria. MOOC could also be one where it is structured based on negotiated outcomes, without a set structure or stipulated course content, and without any rigid assessment or performance criteria. With this in mind, MOOC could be viewed as an experiment, under a research and inquiry “paradigm” where participants are invited to explore together with the facilitators, to co-create a networked learning environment which stimulated creation and growth of knowledge in a connective manner.
Would there be confusion with such a hybrid format of Online Course?
How about the structuring of the course based on the structure/unstructured course? These may include a number of consecutive events or projects (with timelines open to the needs of the participants), one – three days unconference, mentoring for newbies forum or group blogs, research based activities (group and or networks, focus groups), negotiated topics on wiki, Google Groups or networks, and structured mini courses with focussed current topic – (like journalism, wikipedia interest), and community or network of practice that relate to particular professions – HE, K-12 etc. These could then be embedded into HE informal or formal accredited courses which articulate to higher qualifications – such as Postgraduate certificate, diploma, Masters or Doctors courses.
There are implications to such a hybrid course, which I would reflect later in the post in Part II.
George reinforces such research focus via MOOC in his latest post here. Research and inquiry breeds new seeds to MOOC and networked learning, which as he said could help in “exploring ways in which universities might be impacted by networked technologies, global trends, changing contexts, learner expectations, and west-to-east/north-to-south population and capital flows.” Would our MOOC networked experience be “evangelical”? As I shared in my post (see my comments), MOOC could be viewed as a tool, a platform, a “jumping board” upon which teaching and learning could be “blended” in a peer learning ecology, nuanced with juxtaposition when knowledge creation becomes the ultimate goal, and learners are the product of the learning process.
I will continue the sharing in Part II and III at a later time.
Postscript: Refer to this paper on Interaction in Online Courses: More is NOT Always Better on interaction.
Matt said in his confessions on MOOC: “To me, the advantage of taking a course is that you get to interact with the instructor or some other type of subject matter expert – and they are the ones that help you focus on what you need to be learning.” I could think in similar lines when it comes to teacher education, where students are normally looking for interaction with instructors and subject matter experts for learning. Even I was educated in this mode of training throughout my previous postgraduate education and training courses. So, such courses are fine for “teacher training” in classroom environments. However, how often are we (you) being challenged by the teachers or subject experts? Probably, not much at all! Why? My understanding is that most formal teacher training is about teaching techniques, strategies, but not much about peer-to-peer teaching or learning. How to connect with ideas, and connect with others might be learnt through action learning, networking, and they probably can’t be “taught” even by experts, or knowledgeable others, IMHO. Would that explain why we (Matt, and me too) find it so difficult to establish such connections with others in MOOC – PLENK?
One of the oriental education and teaching paradigms (from Confucius, from my memory) is: “Where there are three persons walking together, there will be a teacher for me”. I found this paradigm quite significant in MOOC – CCK08, when I learned together with Jenny Mackness and Roy Williams on various occasions. We had then become close colleagues and friends and worked on the Research post CCK08, with papers co-written here and here and the development of our research wiki. So, I think my learning wasn’t confined to the learning about the course content (of Connectivism, CritLit) itself. Here is my teaching and learning in CCK08 and Knowledge of how people learn which mapped out what I perceived as learning in MOOC. My learning has also been extended to the conversation and connections with those other experts and knowledgeable others who share similar interests and passions. These included networks on Facebook and Twitters.
The alternative perspective on MOOC by Jim here referred to the dojo model for student organised learning. To what extent would it be applicable in an online learning environment? I think it requires a lot of self organised learning to work.
Stephen says in his OLDaily:
It’s about attitude and approach. If you’re looking for someone to tell you how it works, you will find a MOOC confusing and frustrating. But if you take responsibility for your own learning, you will find any connection in a MOOC either an opportunity to teach or an opportunity to learn. No instructions necessary.
(2) Online networked learning involves a paradigm shift in “thinking” and “learning” that is non-linear and often mediated by the technology, tools and actors. This “pattern” of learning seems to align more initially with that of toddlers’ learning (the social constructivism where games and play – do help in the construction of certain knowledge domains” but then would gradually align with a connectivist approach, as it goes beyond the “definition” of knowledge and learning, as such knowledge and learning becomes natural part of the day-to-day conversation, interaction, (engagement in activities that are based on the interests of the actors), self-initiated (not governed), autonomous and self-chosen connections, without boundary on the “knowledge domain”. It may be hyper linked to various websites and artefacts, and are often virtual or online space-driven, and could be multi-focus, and multi-directional. Surfing over such information highway would require the aggregation of ideas and information in the networks, collect those distribution information which may be of interest to us, through RSS or hashtags, or aggregation tools. It could further be curated, refined by the nodes through reviews, amplification and damping, leaving the “residues” as emergent knowledge concepts, and so actions as emergent learning within the networks and amongst the networkers.
(3) Networked knowledge and Learning could be both structured and un-structured, which is really a matter of personal experience and preference. For those who are accustomed to structured online learning, MOOC could be a huge challenge, as it is “designed” to simulate the real world wide web, and the various features of “hyper linked” cyber and online world, which is based on un-or ill-structured webs (though the webs are structured, but they are not perfectly linked to each other in a structured way), and even such links are in a continuous flux, due to the changes in the inter-connections. This gives rise to complicated/complex ontology which has no defined structure, or even pattern. These sort of informal learning pattern may not be consistent with the institution and corporate world of “structured formal” learning and education. As revealed in this article about Complexity Theory and Education, it is difficult to leverage complexity theory in formal education and learning.
We suggest that instead of expecting or pursuing participation as a kind of utopian ideal, a less tyrannical alternative is to anticipate that participation will be disruptive and encompass difference and variety, in a way that reflects a heterotopian rather than utopian view of participation.
Tools (to provide the basic means for manipulating information)
* Processing tools ( to support learners cognitive processing)
- Seeking tools (to locate and filter needed resources) – Slideshare, RSS, Google Reader, Delicious, Google, iGoogle, Netvibes, Amplify, Twitter, Youtube,
- Collecting tools (to gather resources) – Slideshare, Delicious, Google, iGoogle, Netvibes, Amplify, Twitter, Blogs, wikis, Email, Linked in
- Organizing tools (to represent relationships among ideas) – CMap, Bubbl.us, Brain, Google Reader,
- Integrating tools (to link new with existing knowledge) – RSS, Google Reader, Delicious, Google, iGoogle, Netvibes, Amplify, Twitter, FB, Moodle, Blogs, wikis
- Generating tools (to create new things or artifacts to think with) – Podcasting, Digital Story, Media, Webcam, Blogs, wikis, CMap, Bubbl.us, Brain,
* Manipulation tools (to test the validity of, or to explore, beliefs and theories) – Blogs, wikis, Twitter, FB
* Communication tools (to communicate among learners, teachers and experts)
- Synchronous communication tools (to support real time interaction) – Elluminate, Skype, FB chat, Twitter, UStream, Dimdim, Plurk
- Asynchronous communication tools (to support time-shifted communication) – Moodle, Blogs, wikis, FB, Amplify it
* Scaffolds (to guide and support learning efforts)
- Domain – specific versus generic scaffolds – Asynchronous sessions (Moodle Forum discussion)
- Conceptual scaffolding (guidance on what to consider) – CMaps, Brain
- Metacognitive scaffolding (guidance on how to utilize resources and tools) – Synchronous session (Elluminate), Asynchronous sessions (Moodle Forum discussion),
- Strategic scaffolding/guidance on approaches to solving the problem – Wikis – artifacts, selected readings, Synchronous session (Elluminate), Asynchronous sessions (Moodle Forum discussion), Blogs
An alternative way to classify the Social Networking Tools:
Social sites: My Space, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Amplify, Google Wave
Photosharing: Flickr, PhotoBucket
Videosharing: Youtube, Blip.tv, Vimeo, Teachers’ Tube
Professional networking sites: LinkedIn, Ning
Blogs: Blogger.com, WordPress, Posterous,
Wikis: Wetpaint, Pbwiki, Wikispace
Content tagging: MERLOT, SLoog, Delicious, Diigo
RSS Aggregator: RSS feeds, Google Reader
Virtual worlds: SecondLife, Active Worlds, Club Penguin
Aggregators: iGoogle, Google, Netvibes, Delicious, Symbaloo
Others: Voicethreads, Digital Story
Ref to Steve Wheeler’s Slides here on Communities Spaces and Pedagogies for the Digital Age
My ten top Web 2.0 tools (slide 28)
Blog – Blogger; WordPress
Wiki – Wetpaint; PB wiki
Podcasting – Audacity; Podbean
Slide sharing – Slideshare
Photo sharing – Flickr; Picassa
Social Tagging – Delicious; Diigo
Video sharing – Youtube; Vimeo
URL Shortening – bit.ly; ow.ly
Aggregator – iGoogle; Pageflakes
Microblog – Twitter; Tumblr
In this Student Apathy: Public Enemy Jason says:
I am not one to just rant. I have painted a fairly negative view of the student body thus far, and admittedly there are some fantastic students in each classroom. Unfortunately, the influx of a large population of college students seeking anything but higher education (e.g the wage premium,The Five-Year Party, etc.) has contributed to a large amount of variance between the top and bottom student in the classroom. It’s common to hear gripes from professors of “if I graded students the way I really wanted, I’d fail most of my class.” In turn, the pressure to maintain respectable graduation rates leads educators to “teach to the middle,” which leaves the strongest students unchallenged and increasingly disengaged.
This raises the question: Is teaching to the middle leaving the strongest students unchallenged and increasingly disengaged? I think strongest students prefer to be challenged but not necessarily “taught” in a traditional classroom setting. Most of my strongest students like to learn, in a way that suits their needs.
When would students need to be taught by the professors, and when should they be encouraged to learn through peers, projects or collaborative problem solving? It depends on the situation – the type of learners you have, the learners’ style of learning, the learning context, and the pedagogy employed.
How about contrasting these scenarios of traditional teaching with online teaching and learning? Would we be able to shed some light in tackling the problems associated with such student apathy in a traditional classroom teaching or lecturing?
In this Interactions, Student Enthusiasm and Perceived Learning in An Online Teacher Education Degree (in quick view format) by Bill Ussher
Interactions and feedback are critical to success in online learning. All interactions and feedback must be purposeful. In order to achieve this these interactions must be personalised. Do this reflect why blog posts could be used a great learning tool as it could allow interactions amongst learners and instructors to be personalised?
“To make the learning significant these students required personal interactions such as those performed through the portfolios forums and on written assignments…”
Swan found in her research with students learning online, ” that all interactions with instructors mattered.” (2001, p309), not just feedback. I would like to reflect on this finding, especially when relating to my own online learning in MOOC (CCK08, CCK09, CritLit2010, and PLENK). Do interactions with instructors matter? I think interactions with instructors may be important in the Elluminate Session, but not always the case in blogging or forum discussion in MOOC – PLENK. Why?
Most of the interactions that I have in CCK08/CCK09/CritLit2010 were with peer learners, though on a few occasions, I did interact with Stephen Downes and George Siemens. However, may be the main “interactions” with the teachers would be through the Daily, as perceived by many participants.
In this connection, I think the quality of interaction would be more important than the quantity of interaction, especially when it comes to sharing of perspectives on Connectivism in the CCK08/CCK09.
Whilst students need opportunities to “share and compare [their] observations and understanding with others” (Kanuka & Anderson, 1998, p.72) in order to develop understanding, the role of the tutor in making such interactions purposeful cannot be underestimated.
So to what extent is this finding valid in MOOC (like PLENK)? Would this depend on the needs of students, the skills and experience levels of students in the case of PLENK? I could see that some handfuls of experienced educators have been interacting actively in the forum, but then there remained a large number of participants playing the role of “legitimate peripheral Learners”, who might be learning without too much interactions in the forum. They might be interacting mainly through the Daily. Would these participants be using other means of interaction? Blogging? Twittering? Or other Social Networking platforms? Past researches indicated that they did interact with a diverse range of tools as presented here by George.
Jason says: This again reinforces Swan’s finding: Students who had higher perceived levels of interaction with teachers had higher perceived levels of satisfaction with the course and reported higher levels of learning” (2001, p316), all pre-requisites to feelings of success.
Would interaction with teachers be that important in PLENK? May be we need to hear the voices of the participants through research in design and delivery of MOOC…. where I hope we could again reveal the importance of INTERACTIONS (one of the network properties) in learning.
I would assert that interactions amongst peer learners seem to provide a more practical learning solution in MOOC, given that there are more than 1500 participants in the course, with only 4 facilitators to interact with.
So how to keep the students enthusiastic in their learning? Would networked learning as discussed by George be the solution?
This case paper on Enthusiasm and Interaction reports on how group of students could learn through interviewing professionals.
Groups of students visited and interviewed accounting professionals in their offices. The students then prepared and presented written and oral reports. Benefits included exposing students to real-world environments and to successful professionals, and providing opportunities to practice team-building and oral and written communication skills.
Would this sort of assessment work with MOOC – PLENK? How about projects or assignments based on “interview” with professionals (in various fields)? This would allow students (say 9-12 grade, or HE students) to work together on WIKI and conduct such interviews using Elluminate, Skype or other Tools. The students would then be able report back using blogs, WIKIS and forum sharing.
May be I would consider these techniques in the coming year.
So to what extent is the following important in MOOC – PLENK?
INTERACTION with teachers, peers
FEEDBACK from teachers, peers
ASSESSMENT assigned by teachers, and or designed by learners (like the above example)