What and who really transform education?

During the past few years, there has been talks and debates about what would transform education.

ICT, Internet, MOOCs, pedagogy, or social networks?  Is MOOC really transforming Higher Education?  If yes, then, I would say it started in 2008, when the first cMOOC CCK08 PLANTED THE SEED OF SUCH DISRUPTION AND TRANSFORMATION.

The theory behind MOOCs is a simple one: Wouldn’t it be great if every student had access to the best college professors and college courses? And what if those ideas were accessible 24×7, from anywhere in the world?

MOOC would change education forever, as the author of the post believes.

In many ways, these developments have the potential to invigorate higher education by compelling traditional colleges and universities to become more accessible, committed to graduates’ success and more distinctive and diverse.

At the same time, MOOCs have some potential downsides. They could promote a two-tiered system — one tier consisting of a campus-based education for those who can afford it, and the other consisting of low- and no-cost MOOCs. This stratification could be reinforced if the colleges and universities that offer massive online courses reserve degrees for the graduates of their physical campuses and provide lesser credentials for their MOOC graduates — in effect, creating a “luxury” brand and an “economy” brand.

How would institutions resolve such two-tiered system is still yet to be revealed, as the current vision and mission of most institutions would likely struggle when only elite institutions are admitted to the MOOCs hall of the fame and bandwagon.

To some extent, there are many who have changed the world of education, whilst others are working for free, including the super-professors and their teaching assistants.  Interesting post on they-can-hire-one-half-the-professoriate, where professors are competing with each others in order to teach in the MOOCs.

May I say that each of the above contributes to the transformation of Higher Education, but none of these would be possible without US – the educators (professors, the administrators, the technologists), the networkers, the learners etc.

My conclusion is: We all transform Higher Education, whereas all the tools that we are now using are enablers of the transformation.

It is human who would transform the world of education, and that is all of us.

#PLENK2010 Roles and responsibilities of participants

Great to learn Rita’s insights in her great post Formal Learners Get Best of Both Worlds post.
I intended to be more involved in the dialogue in these few weeks, but couldn’t do so…. I could only make a few comments and questions that were based on my observations and past research.
In MOOC – PLENK: Would the participants perceive themselves as “learners”? What differentiate PLENK MOOC from the other formal courses were that participants are looking for learning, but may not particularly think they are “real learners” as those in formal courses. Or may be not? I can’t conclude….
When I did CCK08, I once commented that I was a learner in the course, and Roy (my co-researcher) reminded me that he was perceiving it differently – (my interpretation – that of a colleague). If that is the case, what would the role of the participants and instructors? How do they acknowledge their receipt of “instructions” or sharing their learning?
I think this may be a critical point in MOOC, as without a personal identity in the group, and an understanding of the roles and responsibility one has, there could be “role conflicts” amongst participants and instructors. For instance, if a participant raised a question in forum to the instructor, under a formal online class, the instructor would have a choice of responding straight (i.e. that would be his/her formal responsibility) or directing the student through questioning, or mentoring, or asking how other students see it. However, in the MOOC PLENK, when a participant raised a serious concern (as evidenced in a few forum posts), what would be response by the instructors? What would be the responses of the other participants? As the participant was questioning the instructor, it seems more appropriate for the instructor to respond direct to the participant, rather than having many other participants responding & advising that participant what to do (at least in a formal course), as there are many implications here when such comments are left in public forum by any participants, revealing one’s “weaknesses, feelings of helplessness, and potential issues (i.e. how would others perceive each other). So, high sensitivity and empathy is important in dealing with any conversation, not to mention dialogue.
I use the above example just to illustrate how “complex” it could be both in forum and blog conversation. So what are the assumptions behind the findings of those researches done (i.e. most are relating to formal courses, where participants are formal registered learners)? Would such assumptions be equally applicable with the participants of PLENK MOOC? What are the perceived roles of the participants? Do participants feel obligated to support and help in all circumstances?  I would assume yes – but how could one help others if he or she doesn’t know or understand what the real needs and goals of the other persons are?
Would the expectations of some of the participants be actual instructions from the instructors? Yes, more guidance direct from instructors and TRUE experts, rather than from other participants – who he/she doesn’t know if they are the great “experts” and “knowledgeable others” they are expecting. This seems explicit even in the Elluminate Session.
But we need to understand:
(a) this course is open – and free, and so participants are already enjoying a free session, and free instruction…
(b) this course allows for full learner autonomy, and is different from any formal course, so what else would the participants want? Constraints? Limited learner autonomy? Guidance – and to what level?
(c) This course has no particular assessment requirements – so what would the participants want? Assessment? Evaluation?
What do you think?

More about blogs, wikis and nings….

Blogging/wiki and ning is like fishing.  Some people would like to fish in ponds, others in rivers, lakes and still many more in beaches, seaside, seas and oceans.  If you wish to catch big fishes, you will need to equip yourself with navigation skills, use a ship equipped with modern technology, tools and possibly work with a crew to do so. 

You will therefore need to ask the following basic questions, when fishing:

What: What sort of fishes do you want? Are you looking for big, medium or small ones? Are you looking for varieties or just a few species?  Are you looking for expensive or cheap ones? 

Where: Where would you like to fish? In ocean, seas, rivers, lakes, ponds (e.g. artificially-made ponds), seaside or beach.

How: What sort of equipment, tools, and techniques, procedures are to be used?

When: What season/time of the day to go fishing?

Who: What sorts of skills, knowledge and experience (competency) are required?  Who would you like to fish with?  Do you need to have a crew?  Who is the captain of the crew?  Who are the sailors?  Who are the engineers?  Who are the fishermen or fisherwomen?

Why: What are the purposes of fishing? For self interest?  For profit or commercial use? For a living?  For the community? For a corporate business , an educational institution or government?

With this metaphor of fishing, one could easily translate it to the use of Web2.0 and ICT in the connections in this digital world or global business.  This is also the basis of corporate, business, social or education networks: where edublogs, wikis, nings are formed with a network of interested people fishing together, with the fishes like ideas, topics of interests or learning, or research work, etc.  Or one may be blogging independently, where the blogger decides all the 5Ws and 1 H and thus have complete control over the topics of interest and ones areas of learning.

The creation, development of such networks and connections require skills and knowledge in:

(a) the use of Tools (such as Web 2.0 which are interactive) – blogs, wikis, nings, social tagging (delicious) & RSS feeds (Google Reader), slideshare, emails, social networking – Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and many others…, widgets (additions as translators, as feedburners, and RSS) etc.

(b) the use of personal (or virtual) learning management system, and

(c) communication, interaction

(d) social, interpersonal, patterning, critical thinking, reflection, sensemaking, pathfinding, leadership

(e) analysis ( peer review, discerning skills), synthesis and evaluation

There are a number of concerns that I have indicated in the past posts, and would like to elaborate them here:

Trust: In Beyond Blogging: a lesson for Groundswell  by Jon Garfunkel, only 16% Trust Corporate Blogs – Are they worthdoing. It is really surprising to find such a low level of trust in the “corporate blogs”.  So how about the private or personal blogs? 

Stephen Downes responded in his Daily that: But I doubt that only 16 percent of my readers trust me – why would they even bother reading?  But trust is based on some sort of acquaintance, and most people in the world have never heard of me!

Will you trust me in providing any information or resources?  You could check on my previous blogs to see if I am trustworthy.  Or you could check me out on Facebook.  As I noted that in previous posts, the one thing that really intrigues me is the digital identity in the blogosphere.  How about the hoax out there in blogs?

Risk: In this Why Blogging is Hard… Still, risk is referred to as an unfinished matter by the author.  Once you are in the blog of writings, you may risk losing contact with your readers if you stop blogging, and that may be the case to some of the bloggers.  If you extend this idea to wiki and ning, it is not a surprise to find many wikis and nings without any further development, in case if there are no specific input or contribution from any respondents to those social or education networks.

Blogging is still a risk to me. And what hinders me in blogging is not so much on the conversation that I have, but on the risks related to spams and my privacy that are disclosed to the public.
I welcome any comments except those wishy washy advertisement of “dirty ideas, links, sites or products” to me through spams. So far, I have not received any “unfavourable comments” and so I don’t have to respond to any of these indeed.
With regard to the unfinished matters, I do think blogging prompted me to continue my learning journey as an unfinished personal business.

How to create and stimulate connections?  How to attract responses or comments? How to keep the conversation?

I am impressed with Ingunn’s “Mrs Gadget’s Wish List” left in the comments of Why Blogging is Hard… Still to attract comments. That may stimulate people’s interest in the human or social response. A good idea.  Other ideas include the 7  things you don’t need to know about me by Tom Werner and What did you learn about learning in 2008?

1. How would one improve one’s blog/wiki/ning?  I am yet to know and learn the answers.  Any suggestions or findings?

2. How important is conversation in blogging/wiki/ning?

3. To what extent will conversation help in blogging/wiki/ning?

4. Is reciprocity of conversation important? (i.e. blogging/wiki/ning and response to each others’ blogs)

Each of us must be a learner, and each a teacher – 21st century learning matters for us all

In this You Tube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L2XwWq4_BYit concludes: “Each of us must be a learner, and each a teacher.  21st century learning matters for us all”.What do you think will be the role of teacher/learner?

What are the implications of such changes?

Picture of Sui Fai John Mak
Re: Teaching the Teachers: A key to Student Success
by Sui Fai John Mak – Saturday, 8 November 2008, 01:00 AM
  Here is the website:http://www.c21l.orgwith resourses: http://coloradolearns.wetpaint.com/page/Research+%26+Resources

and http://coloradolearns.wetpaint.com/?t=anon With the wiki as follows:

Help us define powerful learning, share resources and support educators. We want to know:21C Learners - Characteristics

  • How can we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century?
  • How can we help empower today’s learners and teachers?
  • What are the alternatives to schooling as we know it?
  • What does 21st century learning practice actually look like (in a “real” classroom)?
  • How can I contribute to transforming our educational organizations?

The more voices that contribute to the conversation, the greater the opportunity for our education system to serve a wider diversity of student-learners.

Role of learners – A response to Mike

Hi Mike, http://techticker.net/2008/10/22/the-role-of-the-educator-and-institution-in-a-changing-educational-landscape/
Thanks for your valuable insights.  I agree with you that educators are still students and still learners.  I have posted my full response on the role of learners on my blog:https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com 
My concern is that due to occasional confusion and conflicts of roles for learners, co-learners or even the teachers, there could be “internal friction” generated amongst network learners upon interaction or connection.  Such practice is apparent in our CCK08 course, especially in the forum.  If we are to adopt this practice in our classroom situation, I am not sure if such role conflicts or confusion would appear or not.  And I am interested in knowing how that could be resolved.
Also, I think this is one of the major areas of concerns in the practice of connectivism, when each of us defines our own boundary based on our needs and interest.  Also, not everyone is sharing the same or similar “values” in the interaction or connection, mainly due to the autonomy and diversity of perspectives and opinions as promoted or inherent in networking. At times, I could see people arguing in those cases or posts in the forum, and not valuing each others’ opinions.  And I wonder if this is viewed as a “best practice” when students in Universities or Colleges, or even K-12 classes are employing such practice.  One could claim that debates are important, but I am really concerned about the emotional outbursts (or the passions) which could impact the learning and the ecology.
Do you see this an issue?
You are welcome to visit and comment on my blog.

Reflection on the role of learners in networks – Connectivism in practice

When I reflected on what has happened in our CCK08, http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=668&action=article, where interaction and contribution of readers and learners were encouraged,  what I realised was a cautionary approach in the interaction between co-learners.  Whenever someone is trying to adopt a teaching approach, there would be a “tension” developed mainly because the co-learner has not been prepared or able to accept the “teacher-learner” or “expert – learner” role.  The learners might be preferring to adopt a “peer to peer” or “learner to co-learner” approach in learning on some occasions.  This seems also is the case in blogs, when the readers or co-learners were responding or commenting on each others’ blogs.  I have already noted numerous feedback from the blogs.  See my discussion in the forum on the different roles one may have in a network:  http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=956  Also, see Frances Bell’s comments on group and network discussion in  http://eduspaces.net/francesbell/weblog/485692.html and the forum discussion on groups and networks posted by Ailsa Haxell on passion vs reason. http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=956, where there were interesting and heated debates on passion and reason amongst teachers, learners and co-learners.  And the follow up discussion and debate via the blog by Terry Anderson:  http://terrya.edublogs.org/2008/10/20/more-on-groups-versus-networks-and-collectives/

Is such role conflict an issue in your teaching or learning?

If there are such role conflicts in networking or web 2.0 applications, what do you think will be some better ways to resolve them?