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.

#Change11 What sort of changes are required in our education system?

This week’s topic and presentation on Managing Technology by Tony Bates sounds interesting to me.

Slides of Managing Technology to Transform Teaching by Tony Bates.

Recording of the Managing Technology To Transform Teaching Blackboard

Jenny responded with her post in Is our education system in crisis?  Others who have responded to Tony’s topic included:

Jenny mentions that it may come from within and without.  If it is coming from within, then “it is crucial that we can facilitate change from within – mainly by empowering people and inspiring them with a powerful and shared vision.” Matthias shares that change may come from within and the salient technological affordances cannot be prescribed by some higher power.  I couldn’t agree more on this, as I do see blogging and wiki allow for full autonomy for learners, thus liberating the learners to share his or her views and have such voices heard. 
As I have shared in my previous post on Future of Education and Online LearningFuture of Education, and Future of Higher Education Part 3, I do think there are needs for changes in Colleges and Universities in response to the urge for better and cost-effective education in most developed countries.   
These urges were also the result of ubiquitous use of new and emerging technology (including information and communication technology) in various areas of business and industries, some of the schools, and the rapid development of social media and the related tools during the past ten years.  These, coupled with the demand of more highly skilled and knowledge workers in society in many countries, both developed and developing ones, have created a demand of a more technology based working, educational environment where a great education has become an important benchmark for global competition.  

Governments are also looking for an agile, more cost effective and responsive education system to serve their society, and community.  This creates an enormous pressure both for the education authority and institutions to strive for better way of educating its population, so as to add value to their social capital – the people, which is one of the most valuable assets in the world.  
“Can universities or colleges change from within, or do we need new institutions for 21st century learning?”

I think universities or colleges can change from within, and would also benefit much from the changes from within.


As shared in my previous post, change usually involves three aspects; people, processes and culture.

People: Who are the people initiating changes?  Would the changes be initiated from the top or would they be initiated from the bottom (grass roots – staff and learners) level?   From a historical perspective, we witnessed most successful changes were initiated from the top, though there had been some “emerging” cases where changes were initiated by the grass roots, or those not based on the “formal institutions”

Culture: Has there been much changes in the education culture?  We seemed to have accustomed to the teaching as the main way of educating the learners, especially in a school setting.  In an online environment, we may be having a very different culture, where education is taking up a totally new form – with peer-to-peer learning, facilitated by volunteer scholars and educators – like that with University of the People, Wikiversity, or the provision of resources in the form of  Free Online Courses and MIT Open Courseware.

What sort of cultural changes is required in Universities and Colleges?

This requires a change in the way how people view Openness, Open Education, Open Educational Resources, and Digital Scholarship.

How to create and facilitate such changes? Leadership from within and without.

How about a change towards Servant Leadership based on serving other people as the fundamental principles when practicing leadership?

Process: Nothing will change unless the process of education is changed. However, this is easier said than done.  Why is changing the process of education necessary?  Currently there are Standards stipulated for Online Teaching and Programs:  Standards for Quality Online Teaching and Programs:

National Standards for Quality Online Teaching

National Standards for Quality Online Programs

Others skills frameworks include 21st century skills and Framework definition: Partnership for 21st century skills.

Aren’t these standards and frameworks good enough?  These standards are wonderful for school and online education, but would they be able to cater for the technology enhanced education and learning in social media?  I am not that sure on this.

Photo: Google Image

In my previous post:

The education system that we once cherished has been founded on an economic funding model, based on mass education, cost effectiveness and education efficiency for the particular nation, where a centralized education system is valued and mandated, and accreditation of education would only be granted if the course and curriculum are quality assured.  The current paper on Quality Assurance in Asian Distance Education: Diverse Approaches and Common Culture well illustrates the importance of quality assurance relating to distance education in those countries.

Now these paradoxes surfaced out of the education system posted new questions and challenges relating to (a) the values of traditional testing of knowledge based on rote learning, (b) the adequacy of grouping students, subjects against fixed curriculum, (c) the impact of new technology and social media on the nature and structure of formal education – in particular Higher Education, (d) the authenticity of learning at school with a curriculum based on content knowledge, with subject structure of – language and literacy, numeracy and mathematics, science, and information technology, arts and religion etc. (e) the need for new media literacies and their application in our daily life, or that in study or at work, in response to the changing needs and expectations from all those concerned – including employers, colleagues, customers, educators and peers, (f) the development of metacognitve, critical thinking and sensemaking skills that are often required to solve complicated and complex problems, individually and collectively, with technology as an affordance.

Photo: Google Image


Thought Leadership would also be required to facilitate those changes and tackle the challenges due to the changes.

See this wonderful presentation by Stephen Downes.  A great summary on MOOC, Connectivism and PLE.