The key to success is…


in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait, based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. (wikipedia)

Those who succeed most likely have a strong motivation to persevere the goal and achieve, with a strong resilience in face of adversity.

Grit involves maintaining goal focused effort for extended periods of time, often while facing adversity but does not require a critical incident. Importantly, Grit is conceptualized as a trait while resilience is a dynamic process. (wikipedia)

So you want to know who Rufi is, watch the video

Are you curious in knowing who Rufi is?

Watch this:

There are some key take away from Helen Keegan’s presentation:

1. Enlightenment, not just employment

2. Education & learning – centered around learners who get –

– curious

– questioning

– looking beyond what’s there

3. We need to make learners curious again

We need to make magic

We need to take risks

4. We need to develop our inbuilt crap-detectors

5. It’s about joining the dots.

6. Curiosity and opportunity of learning – is the key.

I think that is also the underlying principle and basic concepts behind gamification.

Helen also quoted two examples of “lying” (or cheating) to boost the engagement of learning – see this one on Reddit (when it was first started), and the other on a girl who told lies.

I am somewhat reserved when authentic learning relies heavily on crap-detection, despite that such information or site filter and crap detection is an important digital literacy.  There are indeed many clearly fake news stories that fooled the media.

Does lying and cheating hurt – to the online or digital learners?  If there is a lack of trust on the source of information, or too much camouflaging of the media with those crap-information?  What would be the reactions of learners? Would the learners stay away from such media or information sources?

How about the ethical issues and questions that any educators should raise, when experimenting with social media?

Is it an ethical issue if educators deceive learners in the education process?  Using human as an object in experiment do carry great risks, and if handled improperly, could lead to a loss of reputation, or even litigation.

To sum up, learning based on social media, webs and internet involves engagement, interaction, and communication.  The curiosity to explore, to learn and to interact, not just to consume, but to produce some forms of artifacts (like a blog post), or a comment, or just to communicate by raising one’s voice would all be part of the learning.

How one would react to such interesting experiment of learning would be dependent on the experience of the learners, the attitudes of learners towards learning through social media and networks and the motivation behind.

The motivation to learn could be driven by curiosity –  the curiosity to learn, explore, research and cooperate or collaborate with others etc.  It could be a product of identity, experience and interaction (like that in playing a game) where a person would like to immerse in, and learning as a production of identity.  09-10-27-CoPs-and-systems-v2.01

Motivation in MOOC

How to engage and motivate adult learners?

Viplav asks:

What skills do learners require to navigate these new learning environments? Does it require that they be motivated, socially enabled and have certain Critical Literacies? Should we worry about motivation or presume it? Is learning an art that can be acquired through reflection and practice or is it a science that can/should be rigorously taught?

Motivation is one of the most important driving factors in participating in MOOCs, as Doug discusses the problems here.

How were participants engaged and motivated in MOOC?  Stephen summarises:

“Engagement – how?
Col: “Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education have been referred to as a guiding light for quality undergraduate education and represents a philosophy of student engagement (Puzziferr-Schnitzer, 2005).”

Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson
Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations, and
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Also TeacherTube – Work on the Work Making Student Engagement Central eg
– student teamwork, discussing the work with them – interaction

Student Engagement in Dawson Creek – video
– project-based learning, real-life learning, eg., CSI project
– all our subjects are incorporated
– if we can teach effort –
But the presumption of a MOOC is that participants have self-selected, that they’re already interested and motivated.”

I have shared some ideas about MOOC here.

This paper on Why Share Knowledge? The Influence of ICT on the Motivation for Knowledge Sharing by Paul Hendricks provides an interesting insight into motivation of people in knowledge sharing.

The simple equation that knowledge sharing is good for organizations cannot be sustained. Knowledge can be augmented if it is shared, knowledge sharing may also prove detrimental to knowledge. The first will occur if people truly learn from each other. The second is to be expected if inadequate representations of knowledge are transferred between people. Both the acts of externalization and internalization (see Figure 2) require that knowing subjects should recognize the value of the knowledge to be shared. Otherwise, there is no knowing how both these processes, that require active intellectual involvement of the knowledge sharers, are best constructed. The key to success in knowledge sharing is that the personal ambition should match the group ambition. Therefore, also the touchstone for successful ICT applications for knowledge sharing is the question how they relate to these ambitions, and to the motivation of knowledge workers to match them.

So, based on such learning, is the sharing in networks also sustainable?  What are the motivations behind such sharing of knowledge amongst participants – i.e. networkers or PLENK participants? Would the touchstone for successful PLE/PLN applications for knowledge sharing be based on the ambitions and motivations of participants of PLENK?

How about the motivation with the super MOOCs or x MOOC?  You will find some student experience listed here.

Student experience in MOOCs

Flosse says:

I have been sceptical about the idea of massive open online course (MOOC). I have a theory: many courses (not only the MOOCs) are not motivating because they do not pay enough attention to the participant’s desires.

In a good course students should have the opportunity to practice leadership, gain knowledge, and be autonomous. Students should be provided ways to get social attention and opportunities to play and compete with each other. But this is not enough. Students should have the opportunity to make connections to deep philosophical issues, too: to obey moral codes, improve society and have connections to past and upcoming generations. Students should feel safe and secure and opportunities to take part in rituals, organize themselves, eat and express themselves as sexual beings.

I would agree on some of the points about what students should have as opportunity to practice like leadership, knowledge gains and autonomy, and to make connections.

I am not that sure if students should necessarily need to take part in rituals in community or social networks, though it would be nice to organize themselves, eat and express themselves in social gatherings.

I think there are assumptions that people would like to be involved in “religious” social gathering, if rituals are used in course, rather than in academic discourse, or social gathering, especially in social networking or communities.

Having motivated learners in a course is a blessing, but I think the group think may develop due to overly zealous and religious groups of learners in the community as I have shared here:

Having rituals and communities of elites also could create barriers to learning, especially in MOOC.  Here Stephen mentions that:

My own experience in life is that the people who become elite do not always become so as a result of their generosity, but rather as a result of their parsimony. They achieve their status as elite not by sharing but rather by hoarding. Such members of the elite carefully cultivate a culture of dependence. By ensuring that their followers depend on them for knowledge, influence and wealth, they augment their own position in society. The parsimonious elite are not interested in the empowerment of their students. They are greedy, selfish and self-interested.

Not all members of the elite are parsimonious, and not all experts are members of this elite. But the membership is sufficiently large that a learner ought not, as a general policy, place oneself in a position of dependence on experts. With every word of advice received, the learner must be in a position to ask whom the advice is intended to benefit. And the learner must be in a position to seek alternative sources of expertise, to weight options, and to decide what to believe for him or her self.

Stephen remarks: “Our MOOCs – including Change, including Connectivism, not to mention the artificial intelligence MOOCs and MITx and the rest of them – are insufficiently connective and they’re tending to slip toward an emphasis on content. And that’s where they stop being effective.”

That’s a critical point in MOOC, on whether one should focus on the content or the process, or the conversation that connects and binds people to share and co-create knowledge, which leads to a sustainable community or network of practice – in education and learning.

I agree with Stephen’s view that “Badges are not sufficient, analytics are not sufficient, it’s the interactivity, it’s the relative position with everybody else in the network, that represents learning in this sort of environment.”  To me, the conversation embedded in the discourse in MOOC is what motivates most participants in a sustainable manner, though badges or certification may serve to recognize some of the literacies, knowledge and skills participants have developed throughout the course.

Postscript: A relevant paper on Motivation

Are adults naturally self-directed learners?

This is an intriguing question that I have been pondering for years.

Stephen Brookfield in this paper on self-directed learning concludes:

A view of learning which regards human beings as self-contained, volitional beings scurrying around in individual projects, is one that works against cooperative and collective impulses. Citing self-direction, people can deny the importance of collective action, common interests and their basic human interdependence in favor of an obsessive focus on the self.

The notion of self-direction is to a great extent related to autonomy for learners, where autonomy is posited as one of the essential elements in fostering the most volitional and high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities under self determination theory (SDT), a theory of motivation.

Stephen says:

“Ironically, as Boshier (1983) has pointed out, policy makers can also use the concept of self-direction to reduce public spending on adult education. After all, they can argue, if adult educators tell us that adults are naturally self-directed learners (in contrast to authority-dependent children) then why bother making provision for their education ? Won’t they self-directedly take their own initiatives in learning anyway ? But atomistic, divisive interpretations of self-directed learning need not be end of the story concerning the contributions of this concept to adult education theory and practice. ”

I could understand that self-directed learning have been a major concern for distance education in the 80s – 90s, where a lot of learners might drop out of the course due to the isolated feelings of learning.   It would likely be true that only those who were more “capable” and motivated would succeed in learning in the distance education mode.  Besides, adult educators had been under the pressure to provide better education with limited resources at the time of 80s and 90s.

In my self-directed learning post:

Could we use social networks for informal education and learning?

How web 2.0 will transform learning in higher education

Is access to learning resources still a problem?

I think more adult learners could access open education resources and information more readily via the internet at this digital age as compared to the 90s.  Although there are still many articles and artifacts locked inside the library or publishers website, where fee for service or reading is required, however, adult learners could still exercise their learning options with the aid of various information web sites, social media and networks.

Are adults naturally self-directed learners?  I don’t know the answer to this important question.  I think many adults would prefer to be self-directed, when they are self-motivated, and are given an option to learn, with when, where, how and what they like, especially at this digital era with the affordance of technology (mobile and computer technology), abundant information and ubiquitous networks and social media.   Confidence, motivation, information technology and communication skills, and experience would likely determine whether learners would take their own initiatives in learning, especially in social media and networked learning.

As I have argued here in my previous post: “I still believe that learning is a personal and private “business”, especially in blogging.  Autonomy is most important, for those self-paced, self-organised learners.  I am one of them, as I did “distance education” all by myself, in the past, even in the pre-internet era, and I still enjoyed it.”  It is through blogging where I could fully reflect personally on what is and what is not relevant to my life and work experience.  It also provides plenty of opportunities for others to provide critical comments to my open and public posts, which serves as sounding board for me to engage into more in-depth conversations and reflection.  This is also where I could form part of the blogosphere, and be connected to the networks and communities at large.   Would this also add to the social capital, when collective inquiry through blogging is achieved?

In conclusion, self-directed learning has become a way of learning for lots of adults at this era, especially in the developed world where technology is readily available.  Should we still provide education if adult learners are self-directed?  The answers to this question would be dependent on the context and the type of adult learners that we are dealing with.  As illustrated in the above case study of MOOC (Kop & Fournier, 2011), adult learners would need additional critical literacies when learning through the web and internet.  Adult learners who are highly motivated and confident in the use of new and emergent technology would more likely become independent, autonomous and self-directed learners.

#Change11 #CCK12 Motivation

As  my previous post on what we could learn from MOOC: A reflection was “lost” in my blog, I need to re-write it again now.  I have decided to post them in parts, so my post won’t be hacked that easily.  I have also changed my password, and hope this would reduce the risk of being hacked.

Stephen says in his post on What MOOC does change:

“One big difference between a MOOC and a traditional course is that a MOOC is completely voluntary. You decide that you want to participate, you decide how to participate, then you participate. If you’re not motivated, then you’re not in the MOOC.”


This could be one of the critical points about MOOC, where educators coming from a traditional or classroom teaching background would need to grapple with. A teacher who has been accustomed to the typical school setting would likely been given instruction and are expected to execute the teaching function – to teach in a class, or to maintain control over classroom learning for their students.  This sort of educational philosophy has long been hailed as the golden rule – with structured lesson plans, based on rigid course program.  In this connection, educators coming with those background might find this “freedom” to participate, and to “teach and learn” at odds with their habits of teaching, and could be at arms length, too much to “sacrifice” to let go – the very act of “professional teaching and lecturing”.  So, I doubt if these participants aren’t motivated, just that they are having such feelings of dissonance – in the adoption of MOOC informal learning approach to their formal teaching.  It doesn’t sound comfortable, for some educators who are adapted to the group, collaborative approach towards teaching.

#Change11 A reflection on MOOC

I enjoyed reading Jon’s and Jenny’s post.  Matthias also provided a detailed response as to the decreased engagement in MOOC.  Here are my reflections:

1. Motivation: As pointed out by Jon, “Apart from anything else, the only motivation for most people being here is intrinsic – apart from a very few who are getting some kind of professional or academic credit indirectly or directly as a result, no one is going to punish them for failure to attend, no one is going to reward them with grades for pleasing the teacher or demonstrating knowledge of a fixed set of stuff. But that does make me wonder a little – if we had such an intrinsically motivated crowd in a traditional course we would be pretty pleased and would have very high expectations as a result. And yet, many fall by the wayside.”  As to the motivation of participants, I think there is a need to analyse who are in the course, and what motivated them to participate, engage and contribute to the course.  I still think “What is in it for me” could make a difference, where I once wanted to learn about Connectivism and Connective Knowledge in CCK08.

2. Role of instructors.  When it comes to instruction, to what extent could people apply what they have learnt in the course in a workplace context?  In this transformative learning

The educator’s role is to assist learners in becoming aware and critical of assumptions. This includes their own assumptions that lead to their interpretations, beliefs, habits of mind or points of view as well as the assumptions of others. Educators must provide learners practice in recognizing frames of reference. By doing so, educators encourage practice in redefining problems from different perspectives.[5] The goal is to create a community of learners who are “united in a shared experience of trying to make meaning of their life experience”.[21]

Stephen mentioned here about engagement in MOOC

3. Technology – The soft and hard technology do play a significant role in structuring this MOOC, and Jon is right in that getting it right is crucial in balancing the abundance with adequate streaming and filtering of information.  Jenny mentioned: “An imbalance between soft and hard technologies. Are MOOCs too open/too soft? According to Jon Dron, the ‘sweet spot’ in networks, sets and groups is the balance point between the hard and soft technologies where emergent things happen. Do some of the soft technologies in ChangeMooc need to be replaced with hard technologies?” This requires a continuous review of the current state of information flow and the hardening of certain soft technology – such as the grouping of certain information streams using hashtag in Twitter as suggested by  Jon, and the clustering of people based on common, shared interest like the current research group, or the setting up of various groups on FB, wikis (more like a net), that would leverage technology and its affordance to individuals, nets, groups and collectives.  The Goldilock story here well illustrates how fitting into the “learners” would help.  Perhaps we need, the porridge, chair and the bed  (technology and tools) to try in MOOC, and see which one suits us best.

4. Key Literacies – Digital Literacy, Critical Thinking, Pragmatics in Education, Creative Learning Literacy and Emotional Intelligence The sort of literacies necessary to navigate in this sort of MOOC (a miniature of Internet and Web) includes different sorts of literacies, with the information curation, aggregation and filtering being one of the most important literacies.

Rheingold outlines what he considers to be the five key literacies:

  1. attention literacy (fundamental)
  2. participation literacy
  3. cooperation and collaboration
  4. critical consumption (Crap detection)
  5. network awareness

According to Rheingold, these literacies work together and are connected, not separate.  Our focus should be keeping up with these literacies and to not get distracted by the technologies.  The power has shifted from the hardware, software, services  to the “know how” around these things.

Here participants of MOOC often felt overwhelmed at the start.  However, once they have understood the need of tools and the creation and setting up of Personal Network Environment, they soon realized that such navigation based on sensemaking and wayfinding are just part of the strategies in working and learning through with the abundance of information.  As shared in the paper on Blogging and Forum as Communication and Learning Tools in MOOC, many participants have used them in a strategic and nuanced manner.  So, it is just a matter of time and experience when novice learners would learn those skills through observation, dialogue and conversation with the knowledgeable others, learning with the experts, practicing them in their PLE or applying them at work etc.  As Jon has mentioned, though many participants might not have created or posted using blogs, or have used other social media tools, they might have learnt those literacy and skills merely by consumption and lurking.  Here Jon mentioned:

I don’t think it’s too much of a problem that many people do not write anything public – people learn in different ways at different times and respond in different ways to different things, so (though it greatly helps the learning process to write about it, especially in public, as well as helping to provide one of the pillars of intrinsic motivation, connection with others) it is fine that only some of the participants are visibly ‘there’.”

5. Structure – The structure of the existing MOOC is still evolving.  Is massive course an issue?  I think it depends on the topic and the sort of learning that we are referring to, especially in Change11.  If the topic is of interests to the majority of the participants, then they would likely engage and participate in the activities or contribute to the creation or production of artifacts, as pointed out by Matthias:

In previous MOOCs the 2-3 main facilitators were slightly more in the foreground, and they modeled and demonstrated their own thinking about the emergent connectivism. These concepts and the resulting teaching appeared as, if not messy, then somewhat unfinished, and hence encouraged a similarly messy learning to be openly shared by the participants.

In this MOOC, by contrast, I have the impression that many of the weekly speakers appear as experts whose opinion is more settled and tends to intimidate learners from uttering possible discomfort or objections. Even in Stephen and George’s institutions, research about connectivist phenomena seems already more scientifically settled.

The AI MOOC course has attracted tens of thousands of learners (students) and surely such course is more technical in nature, with the focus on the content and learning outcomes.  So, the pedagogy adopted may align better with the instructivist and social constructivist pedagogy, whereas students and learners would learn better through direct instruction of the professors, with the aid of technology and tools, as a support and learning would also be achieved through the assessment of student’s performance.

With Change11 MOOC, as mentioned by facilitators, Stephen and George, that there is no single body of knowledge to learn here, so the emphasis is to structure the course to suit individual’s needs, where individual could choose and pick whatever that suits them, and engage with those areas or connections which are of interests.  This sort of learning aligns well with life long and wide pedagogy, as knowledge is then viewed as a growth for the learners, rather than just the acquisition of knowledge content, or the acquisition of factual information or prescriptive knowledge.  Besides, such structure is flexible enough to cater for new comers or novices, as one could shape the course, and re-design it using their own PLE, in order to filter through the vast course landscape.

6. What is the solution?  As Stephen,  Jon, Matthias, and Jenny have all provided their own insights, I would instead post them as questions:

(a) What do participants want from MOOC?  Is achieving personal goals and objectives what the participants are looking for?

(b) What are the assumptions behind each of the solutions that we might have considered?  Is MOOC too soft a technology?  Do we need to automate more features of MOOC – i.e. hardening it?  What would be the impact of those hardening – such as having hashtags of “groups of beginners”, “clusters or sets for advanced or veterans”, “networks of technologists and instructional designers” etc within Change11?

(c) What have we found from researches in MOOC?  What could be applied in this Change11 MOOC?  Is collective intelligence or Wisdom of Crowds a feasible solution?

(d) Is self-organized learning, emergent learning working in Change11 MOOC?  Is connectivist learning the solution to MOOC?  Why/Why not?  What are some of the merits and limitations in using tools and technology in MOOC?

I have also posted our paper here A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses for your further consideration.

#Change11 On motivation

What could I learn from this wonderful post of motivation?

Would these principles on What demotivates workers be applicable in the case of motivation of learners and educators in online courses?  Just replace the word of workers by learners, and we will get a wonderful set of guidelines on What demotivates learners:

Hype: A failure to acknowledge the real difficulties the learners face.

Futurism: Pointing down the road at “difficult or impossible future goals” and not at the tangible achievement of learners’ recent efforts.

False democracy: Inviting learner’s input when the leader (educator) already made up his/her mind.

“And that’s a key point: in addition to demotivating talented workers (learners and educators), an opaque and dictatorial leadership style can silence innovation from below, leaving the leader in charge of coming up with all the great ideas. Nobody’s that good – not even Steve Jobs.”

So, motivation could be a critical success factor in distance education and online learning.  What is needed is to explore the assumptions behind those factors – the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Will explore motivation and leadership in another post.  Forthcoming!