Personal Learning Environment and MOOCs

In response to a post here, Peter Sloep comments on Google +

Peer learning makes a lot of sense but as one of the tools in the box only. We’ve done work on this, see the PhD thesis by Peter van Rosmalen, back in 2008 already: See also a paper by me: There are pedagogical issues but the really hard part is developing the supportive technology that works at the level of large networks.

Thanks Peter for the precious sharing.  I have browsed through the papers, and there are many points worthy of deep reflection, especially in the peer learning and PLE/PLN. The development of supportive technology that works at the level of large networks, as Peter said could be a challenge, especially if such technology is overly rigid.

Take MOOCs as examples of technology platform, should one consider distributed platforms/social media, or a hub (VLE/VLM) for MOOCs?

Should MOOC shift its pedagogical to be more adaptive (or more connective and engaging) or should it stay with a prescriptive design (emphasising on one standardised model only – especially in mastery learning and common examination or quizzes)?

Are learners involved in the design of curriculum or instruction?

How would PLE/PLN developed by participants support MOOCs?

My sharing of cMOOCs

More sharing on xMOOCs in part 2.

If I have a dream, what would it be? Part 2

As I was attempting to respond to Tony’s post (and a background on MOOC with this introduction about MOOCs and What you need to know about MOOC?) in this part 2, Stephen got a wonderful and inspiring post where he says:

We need also to begin designing the educational resource support system for individual learners, including access not only to free or easily affordable educational resources – the learning ‘bread and butter’, so to speak – but also learning environments, network support structures, and access to learning inside work and other environments. I have spoken in the past about treating educational resources as a utility like water or power; we need to begin building this utility and putting it to work in hospitals, courts, manufacturing plants, parks and museums, and any other place people get together to work or play.

I agreed, we need to integrate work or play with learning, so learning is not separated from the work/play in the form of vacuum.  We could design learning through gamification, by ourselves and with others.

This helps me in formulating the following questions:

a. How would you respond to these changes in HE, especially the MOOC and commercialization of education?

b. What would be your ideal education?

c. What would be your ideal MOOC?

d. Would personal learning environment help learners to learn more effectively, with the knowledgeable others in the networks?

As shared in my previous post:

An ideal MOOC to me would likely be distributed over different learning spaces, which again would align with learners’ different and changing needs and goals. As Stephen mentioned the product of learning is the learner, and so the learning is based on a growth model where learner’s growth of “knowledge” and wisdom with the navigation and construction of networks upon time. This also requires pruning of obsolete network patterns (outdated concepts, information, knowledge etc.), with the growing and nurturing of new and emergent network patterns.

This is also one of the most difficult and challenging part of education and learning, as it challenges the values of traditional canonical knowledge often prescribed in books and are determined by authorities, and are confined to be “delivered” in a closed wall settings. With the rapid changes in information and knowledge landscape, such ways of “transmitting” information and knowledge limited the discourse and inquiry, reducing knowledge to a set of memorable known facts, information, or procedures which, if understood would constitute learning.

Answers to questions, if shared would provoke further thinking and reflection, in a connectivist learning ecology. As each of us may look at the answers from our own lens, experience, we could then share our understanding, and critique on the “strengths” and “weaknesses” of those answers, and thus be able to improve or innovate through deeper inquiry and critical thinking. This is also based on a social scientific approach where “truths” are revealed in light of evidences and arguments, rather than the mere showing of facts and figures in experimentation.

Photos: Google image

I have thought about the questions from Tony’s post :

1. Do you believe we should replace teachers (or instructors) with computers? What are your reasons?

I think we could replace teachers or instructors of certain courses with computers, and these courses include those that relate to hard technology – like this Mechanical MOOC on Pythons.   The skills required to program are based on routine programming knowledge, and would best be learnt and tested through machine based learning platform and machine testing and grading.  This way of learning may not require much intervention by the human instructor, though not everyone is comfortable with the learning with machine.  The mastery of programming knowledge are then based on instrumental learning.  In fact, we have adopted such system in our knowledge test for driving for a few decades, using computer technology, and that seems to be a perfect, effective solution.

It is, however, dangerous to replace all teachers or instructors with computers in other online courses which are based on soft technology, especially on those subjects on philosophy, humanity science,  arts, history, or certain science subjects.

Teachers or instructors are still the designers of education, and are needed to build innovative and improved learning spaces for and with the learners.  Though the instructors might have changed their roles from the traditional “instructor’s” role to “facilitation, mentoring and coaching” role (see below), they should take an active part in guiding those learners who have specific needs in their learning journey, and in particular those novices who would need mastery of learning how to learn in online learning environment and ecology.

The goal that instructors could consider is to help and support each learner to become an autonomous learner (Mackness, 2011) on their self-directed learning journey (Mak, 2012) for life.

2. Can online learning improve productivity in post-secondary education without getting rid of most instructors?

I think we could introduce online learning in post-secondary education without getting rid of most instructors. There are many ways.

a. Instead of focusing on the delivering content of the course using online approach, focus on the design of educational experience, and reinforce the importance of transformational and parallel thinking and learning in online education design and delivery.

In summary, western thinking is failing because its complacent arrogance prevents it from seeing the extent of its failure.

Because criticism is so very easy, it has become a dominating habit of even intelligent people.  There is a ridiculous belief that it is enough to get rid of the bad things and what will be left are good things.  Today’s experience all over the world shows that getting rid of the bad things only results in chaos.

The elevation of the ‘critical intelligence’ to the highest level of human endeavour has probably been the single mistake of Western intellectual development.  Yet that is still the basis of our culture and our universities.  That is danger indeed.  Think of all that wasted intellectual talent which might have been harnessed to creative and constructive effort.

Creativity and the design process and parallel thinking itself are only ways of achieving constructive results.

The above thoughts and perspectives challenge me to re-think about the traditional Western thinking system that was fashioned by the Greek Gang of Three (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle).  What was wrong?

Enjoy this:

So instead of using the boxes and judgement of traditional thinking, how about a ‘design forward from a field of parallel possibilities’ ?

The present folksonomy movement in Web 2.0 allows for the creative design and collaborative  aggregations under an adaptive learning ecology.

Instead of competition between teams of learners, how about an integration of technology affordance with teaching and learning?  This will foster the collaboration and learning amongst networks and communities of learners?  The present proliferation of free open course ware and social learning networks and educational communities accelerate the spirit of collaboration amongst all parties – institutions, business, educators and learners on a global educational and learning movement.

Success in such movement relies on how educators and learners would create new learning spaces, based on connections, collaborations, and co-operation with Web 2.0 and other emergent technologies both locally and globally.

See also my posts on Transformational Thinking and Transformational Thinking – additional 2 hats in thinking. These 2 additional hats, when used in conjunction with the 6 hats would allow for transformational thinking at this digital age, especially in education and learning.

Learning and development of new and emergent technology on an institutional and personal level would be deemed necessary to align with transformational and parallel thinking in action.

b. Provide support to online instructors based on their expertise, as subject experts, facilitators, mentors and coaches.

As content mastery is still important for technical subjects, online instructors could support students in the mastery of content with different roles -as facilitators, mentors and coaches.

A focus on emotional and social intelligence by both the instructors and learners would help in building a positive educational and learning experience, through interaction, dialogue and active positive reinforcement and constructive feedback.

What would be my dream then? To become who and what I want to be.

#Change11 Is this rhizomatic learning? My view on MOOC

I read Jenny’s post with mixed feelings.  I could understand that alienation is an uncomfortable feeling, as Terry mentioned, and that being involved in MOOC, but then he didn’t seem to find it right:

I recognize that education is a two edged sword and can also stamp out creativity, as evidenced by studies of changes in school aged children – but it also provides a context for students to learn how to create, think and get along with and tend the various weeds (personal and institutional) in our gardens. Education, like other institutional systems both creates and is created by individual and social hierarchies. You can also see that children don’t generally get any more creative when they are denied opportunity to go to school – maybe just the opposite. Except of course if they are the children of or exposed to educated adults or others with large (and often uncommon) personal gifts and abilities.

He then commented: “I think we need to develop roles as change agents that speak WITH rather than AT our formal education systems – as well as developing and building alternatives.”  It could be disheartened to see many educators feeling alienated, and powerlessness, but then I think this is also a source of inspiration, when viewed in positive lights. No pain, no gain.

The eagle must fly high, in order to see the sky.

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Google

I think we have now gone to a stage where our formal education systems is opening up for public scrutiny, and so any one would not only speak WITH but AT the formal education systems.  That is reality.  It is good to be constructive,  and to suggest positive solutions to education, rather than “blaming and criticising” the system, and to me, that is what education discourse is all about.  However, it could also be interpreted otherwise, when the authority perceives such discourse as a threat to the formal education system, and a threat to academic knowledge (or the canonical knowledge) which has been built for decades.

What is a better way?

Photo: From Terry Anderson

Are these values of learning and knowledge creation and development reflected in the MOOC sharing, conversation and discourse?  I do think we are and have been listening to different voices – even the negative ones as perceived – relating to the production of workers, and soldiers. Have we forgotten that many of “us” have been educated under a regime where we were expected to be a responsible and loyal worker, and a compliant “soldier” to follow instructions and orders, especially in a hierarchical structure of organisation.  We are STILL operating in such modes of operations, within many institutions or business settings, and I doubt if that is a really distorted image of reality.  Rather, under a structure regiment, this is viewed as both legitimate and “democratic” setting in education in many developing and even developed countries.

There are merits in having a structured education (including the formal and informal education system), though there are also demerits in such an approach in this digital era of education.  Besides, the advances in technology and its use far outmoded most of the existing practices of educators and teachers, and that the technology used in the social media, such as mobile technology,  and various open softwares and learning management system has most likely lead ahead of most of the classroom practices.  Interactive board has only been introduced into the classrooms recently, in developed countries (like Australia).  How many teachers are actually feeling comfortable in its use?  Are these tools readily easy to use?  How far do teachers use these tools in classroom compare to other tools like Elluminate, FB, Twitters, Google (doc, Google +, Google Hangout), Wiki, and Blogs,  as used in social and learning networks or online education?   Teachers seem to be feeling more equipped and comfortable with the use of bits and pieces of social tools and media, including PLE/PLN than the Learning Management System and Interactive Boards in schools.  Why?  I think part of the reasons lies with Power and Control.  I would leave it to my readers of this post to ask further questions, and explain about this phenomenon.

So, yes, learning in social media, and networks could create feelings of “incompetence” (both amongst scholars, researchers, educators AND learners) too, when they are newly introduced into formal education and learning, with the feeling of alienation (especially when others in the networks or communities are judging “us”, or “we” are feeling neglected in our voices, when making suggestions to improvements or innovations) as facilitators, educators, administrators, scholars or learners.

Questions like: Should we weed out the concept of Nomads (or rhizomes)?  Should we criticise the education system? do spring up from time to time.  I don’t think any one could answer these questions with an absolutely “No”. Rather, our question would be WHY?/WHY NOT?

“Should we remove the weeds (with incorrect information, or biased sources of information, or those posting threats to human, like trolls, trojans, viruses)?” I would give it a resounding “Yes”.  So what is the solution?  I do reckon a combination of formal, informal, non-formal education and learning, offered and developed at various stages, for different people, at different times would be a feasible solution, in face of the uncertain future.

In this Future of Learning, personalisation, collaboration and informalisation becomes the focus of education and training, where learner centred, social learning and lifewide learning are considered as “new ways of learning”

Are these reflected in part of the MOOC, or shared in the concepts under-pinning Connectivism or Community of Practice (COP) or Landscape of Practice (LoP).

There seems to me that there is no more clear boundary between these conceptions (or metaphors) of learning, despite that each theory of education and learning (Social Constructivism, COPs and Connectivism) are based on different (and in fact overlapping, similar and dual) epistemology as shared here.

Whether we should focus on formal and or informal education is a priority for the institutions, as they need to develop strategic frameworks in order to accommodate and respond to the rapid changing technology and the quest for better and cost-effective education in order to survive and thrive.

How such changes in the education institutions would affect the overall education system is based on the assumption that what worked in the past (with face-to-face mass lectures) in particular, based on a standard one size suits all sort of curriculum, may not work that well in face of the rapid changes in society, in the existing financial situation.  What seems obvious would be to replace such mass lecture with more innovation in teaching. But how far would such education reforms go?  Would the adoption of more open, accommodating and structured online education system provide the solution?  What sort of challenges are there if the structure of institution is open and “flattened”?  What are some of the implications for the educators and researchers under those re-structuring? What sort of issues would arise relating to new pedagogy? See this post about education changes.

They’re being told to find new ways to provide a more individualised education, to change the shape of the school day, explore what technology can offer and even ask whether pupils need to be in school at all.

“The challenge we face is nothing less than transforming our schools from assembly-line factories into centres of innovation,” said the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who warns that the US school system is falling behind international rivals.

To these ends, MOOC could be a good experimental ground to explore all the above challenges, and wicked problems.

Back to our MOOC here:

First, I could see that this Change11 MOOC has been structured rather differently to the past.  Every week there is a guest speaker taking up the role of the facilitator.  And so it seems to me that there are responsibilities shared by the facilitators in the convening of the MOOC, not only the MOOC main facilitators – George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier.

Relating back to Jenny’s questions:

  1. What is the responsibility of the MOOC conveners to ‘newcomers’ or ‘MOOC novices’?
  2. How will the MOOC avoid ‘group think’, and in reality welcome and embrace the diversity of ideas that inevitably comes from a diverse network – which may (and hopefully will) include critical discussion of MOOCs. Isn’t this what a MOOC is supposed to be all about?
I don’t think the question of responsibility of the MOOC conveners is within the “scope” of the learners, rather it is the learner who SHOULD consider what is in the best interests of learning to reach out for LEARNING, using whatever approach that suits his/her needs, be it based on situated learning and Community of Practice, Social Constructivism, Connectivism (a connectivist approach), or Rhizomatic Learning approach.    To me, MOOC might be “self-organising itself” in a way that conveners and learners are co-convening itself, though the conveners still hold the “power” to post the resources on the course.  To this end, there is no reason why participants should or could not involve themselves in the creation of MOOC, and here inside or alongside MOOC.  Actually, that could be a healthy way to ensure that each individual in the MOOC would and could develop themselves in this setting.  There have already been various wikis and new MOOCs, and networks set up in response to those individual’s needs.
Even the clustering is based on whether one wants to or needs to do so, as this is dependent on the type of project that one is engaged in.  Is it a network, group or individual project?  What is the purpose of the project?  Who are involved in the project?  So, working on a project may be a wonderful way to learn through MOOC.  I have adopted an approach of working on research projects throughout the MOOC, though I still find it rather difficult to work on collaborative “group” project due to various reasons.  I also find the most satisfying project would be the creation and sharing of artifacts (blog post, video, digital stories, or a mindmap) that would resonate with myself and others.   

PLE, Do it Yourself Learning and Education and the assumptions behind

What does PLE mean? Here in Dave’s post: does the PLE make sense in connectivist context?

Dave says:

 connectivism where “Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements” and “learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity”.  There is a desire, it seems, to return to what “I” have and what “I” know pulling things out of their connective space. It makes sense to make the attempt, certainly. The vast majority of what we call education is premised on the idea of knowledge being something that can be owned, that you can give and receive. What, I wonder, does knowledge co-created look like when it is taken back and possessed by an individual? This seems like a critical context shift that removes knowledge (and learning) from its connective state and returns it to something countable.(as opposed to knowledge and the learning thereof being non-counting nouns).

Is learning an individualistic activity under Connectivism?  I would argue that it is both an individualistic and social activity that are interconnected since we were born.  What happened in the past was that we seemed to have focussed on certain aspect (cognitive development) over the others (social development) and vice versa, but then as technology has become ubiquitous, we soon found that cognitive and social development are in fact two sides of the same coin, where technology provides the affordance (the periphery of the coin as linking the 2 faces) and has in one way or the other becomes part of our tools to connect with instantiation.  So knowledge and learning is in fact part of our living cycle of life-long learning.

We might however, need to forgo the concept of thinking knowledge as the only “countable” personal possession that would give us the “power” to solve problems alone.  Rather, it is the connectedness or connectivity that is associated with the learning that would allow us to exercise the power – the power of autonomy, power of choice of connections – on when, where, who, how, what and why.  This connectivity and autonomy, when coupled with openness, diversity would then be expanded to form an emergent learning system (Complex Adaptive System on a personal level) that is embeded in the PLE/PLN, when we interact with actors, nodes and resources on the networks, web and internet.  That’s also what and how I have interpreted as Connectivism.

Here is Stephen’s post on What is Connectivism where he highlights:

Connectivism is, by contrast, ‘connectionist’. Knowledge is, on this theory, literally the set of connections formed by actions and experience. It may consist in part of linguistic structures, but it is not essentially based in linguistic structures, and the properties and constraints of linguistic structures are not the properties and constraints of connectivism.

In connectivism, a phrase like ‘constructing meaning’ makes no sense. Connections form naturally, through a process of association, and are not ‘constructed’ through some sort of intentional action. And ‘meaning’ is a property of language and logic, connoting referential and representational properties of physical symbol systems. Such systems are epiphenomena of (some) networks, and not descriptive of or essential to these networks.

Hence, in connectivism, there is no real concept of transferring knowledge, making knowledge, or building knowledge. Rather, the activities we undertake when we conduct practices in order to learn are more like growing or developing ourselves and our society in certain (connected) ways.

In Stephen’s terms, Connectivism differs significantly from the typical notion of transfer or making of knowledge, and it is more relating to growth and development.  I think this is manifested with the PLE/PLN that seems to be at the heart of Connectivism.

Pat shared his views on PLE.  How about some of the latest trends in PLE as highlighted in this PLE Conference 2011?  The PLE conference 2011 provides updates with videos and articles.  Here share your experience is an interesting video on Vimeo summarizing the essence of PLE Share.

How does PLE relate to Do it yourself (DIY)? Learners can now download free courses and videos from all over the educational sites. Anya prepared an Edupunks guide.  Stephen responded with his review on the guide.

Stephen remarked:

That’s why it is so disappointing to read this:

In the case of DIY education, it means getting the knowledge you need at the time you need it, with enough guidance so you don’t get lost, but without unnecessary restrictions. DIY doesn’t mean that you do it all alone. It means that the resources are in your hands and you’re driving the process. (p.3)

Education isn’t about ‘getting the knowledge’…. It’s about becoming something – whether that something is a painter, carpenter, computer programmer or physicist. And becoming something is so much more than getting the ‘big buckets of benefits’ from educational institutions.

Yes, I shared Stephen’s points in that education is more related to aspiring to one’s potential through continuous self-development, in becoming something, and I would add that: it should add value to both the individuals and the community.  To this end, DIY education could be interpreted differently from the formal education that we are referring to, where formal education is normally provided by the public or private provider, or even by home schoolers, and informal education is provided by our parents, friends, or peers, (i.e. education by others) .  So learning could be personally or socially situated and appropriated, under the umbrella term of formal education or informal learning, within a landscape of practice.

Etienne Wenger has explained here on walking on the landscape of practice, and how he sees one locating oneself in such landscape.

How about this sort of education where learners and educators are connected to others on a global basis?  Thanks to Stephen here for the link.

That is similar to the concept of connected classroom applied in action: Connected Classroom in action 

If you could afford the fees, then this Floating University – a massive online University could be another way to go.

Lisa Lane shares her experience and views on MOOC, with a SMOOC, where she highlighted the challenges with the design and setup.

How do I see all these on MOOC? I have shared my views on design and delivery of MOOC and MOOC here. What I think is critical to success needs to be based on questioning the assumptions made in MOOC, followed by an inquiry on what online learning means from both the educators and learners point of views, like what Lisa Lane and Jim Groom have done.  Surely, George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier’s efforts in pioneering in MOOC have been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of MOOC in this Change MOOC.

So, for me, it is the combination of personal learning coupled with social learning, together with the teacher presence, social presence and cognitive presence (both individually and collectively) that would make learning meaningful and valuable.

I reckon once the learners have acquired the learning skills (metacognitive skills), then it would be better to encourage and support them to exercise their autonomous learning through the development of PLE/PLN.

There are still challenges ahead with the adoption of technology in higher education as highlighted in Ignatia post

But what did surprise me was that although mobile devices are all around us, and we use it in many cases for contextualized, informal learning, most of the educational institutes don’t yet have a clear guideline for these new learning devices. Which immediately suggests to me that the content resources will probably also not be designed taken into consideration mobile learning affordances. Or web-based affordances at that. For although courses are mentioned in the report, the quality of these online courses, and whether these courses are designed following online contemporary needs (peer interaction, scaffolding, designed for reconfiguration depending on the device which accesses the content…) is unclear.

I think the use of technology in the classroom environment is still hindered by the pedagogy adopted – and the assumption that formal education and informal learning (with the use of mobile devices) could be fused to exploit the learning affordance.

How do we know if the online learning is effective or not?  We are now turning to Learning Analytics.

Learning analytics has been around for sometime, and here is an interesting post by Wgreller.  “One common assumption I noted is the belief that all students are ambitious and only aim for top grades and the best learning experience. Being a father and having seen a few student generations, I contest this assumption.”

Not all students are motivated in the same way when it comes to managing their learning, as shared in this post on PLEs and PLNs.

I resonate with the author’s views here too, and I have suggested the application of Assumption Theory in my post – that there are lots of assumptions made in the theory and pedagogy, that may need to be questioned, contested, debated, and re-tested under different context and networks/groups of learners.  What are our assumptions in adopting learning analytics? Is it a tool for the educators/administrators for monitoring and control purpose? Or for intervention when educators/administrators noted outliers and inactivity in the learners within or outside the networks? What are the assumptions held by actual learners who are under the “lens” of learning analytics? What reactions and issues would they have when it comes to their privacy and personal security?  What assumptions have been made on those self-directed or paced learners who might just be visitors to the web and internet?  Would these learners have left traces on the networks?  Is inactivity in connections over networks equated to inactive learning?  How about those learners who prefer to learn through reading of books, artifacts, watching TVs, videos, doing physical activities and playing educational games, or socializing with other groups and individuals face to face, without much traces on the virtual or digital networks?  How do we know whether these learners’ connectedness is well enough if their learning is outside the “radar” of the learning analytics?

Erik Duval, a professor in the research unit on human-computer interaction, at the computer science department of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven shared in this post:

you have to be careful what you measure: an optimal Body Mass Index (BMI) is not the same as perfect health. In fact, this is more problematic even in learning or research, where it seems to me that there is less consensus on what are relevant criteria… Do higher assessment scores always indicate better learning? Are papers with higher numbers of citations always more relevant? Are researchers with a higher h-index always better researchers?

Learning analytics is an important tool for us to consider, though it needs to be exercised with caution, due to the many assumptions we might have made.

In conclusion, PLE, PLN, Do it yourself and online education via various means like MOOC have their own merits and limitations, and it would be important to question the assumptions behind each model of education and learning, in order to match the needs and expectations of BOTH educators and learners.

Learning in a landscape of practice or networks of practice is both challenging and rewarding, though, each promise comes also with basic questions: Is this sort of learning valued by the learners?  Is it an effective way of learning? How? and Why?  Research and continuous exploration through experimentation and application would likely provide the answer to the question of: What is knowledge? What is learning? And how does it occur at this digital age.

Photo: From Networked Learning Conference 2012

#CCK11 How to explain Connectivism, MOOC and PLE/PLN?

How to explain connectivism, MOOC, and PLE/PLN in the simplest way?
Simple? Just Google it 🙂
Have fun.
My family? My dog, me and my horse…
With the duck versus the cow?

Picture credit: From Gordon’s blog post.  Thanks for his generous sharing.

#PLENK2010 Emotional and Social Intelligence and PLENK

The sociable brain (Daniel Goleman in his book Social Intelligence): Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us affect the brain-and so the body-of everyone we interact with, just as they do us.
Even our most routine encounters act as regulators in the brain, priming our emotions, some desirable, others not.  The more strongly connected we are with someone emotionally, the greater the mutual force.
Does this explain why networkers are having strong or weak ties in social networks, where emotions could play a part in its formation, development and sustainability? What would be your basis of your weak ties/connections?  Ideas or information sharing? Emotional sharing? Socialising?

In search of answers to the above questions, I explored this Bar-on Model of Emotional Social Intelligence .  It provides some important insights into emotional and social intelligence.

emotional-social intelligence is a cross section of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that determine how effectively we understand and express ourselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands.

I would also rate this article as one of the best in emotional and social intelligence that I have read, as the research was extensive, and findings based on strong evidences.

Ref to p7 of 28:

More specifically, the Bar-On model reveals that women are more aware of emotions, demonstrate more empathy, relate better interpersonally and are more socially responsible than men. On the other hand, men appear to have better self-regard, are more self-reliant, cope better with stress, are more flexible, solve problems better, and are more optimistic than women. Similar gender patterns have been observed in almost every other population sample that has been examined with the EQ-i. Men’s deficiencies in interpersonal skills, when compared with women, could explain why psychopathy is diagnosed much more frequently in men than in women; and significantly lower stress tolerance amongst women may explain why women suffer more from anxiety-related disturbances than men (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

The above findings sound well when I reflect on my observations in social networks, though I think more researches need to be done to substantiate the claims, in order to avoid any stereotyping.

Would gender difference affect the way how people use PLENK and connect with others? This could be important to understand, and if the findings of the research are right, then this may imply that more women are able to connect with others than men in social networks due to their superior skills in empathy and emotional awareness, whereas men may be able to cope better with stress, are more flexible, solve problems better, and are more optimistic than women.

This led me to explore further…..

In this Social intelligence, innovation, and enhanced brain size in primates by Simon M. Reader and Kevin N. Laland

Individuals capable of inventing new solutions to ecological challenges, or exploiting the discoveries and inventions of others, may have had a selective advantage over less able conspecifics, which generated selection for those brain regions that facilitate complex technical and social behavior. An alternative account is that primates are making opportunistic use of information processing capabilities afforded by a large executive brain that has evolved for some other reason to cope with challenges in new flexible ways. However, as these two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive (3), our findings support the view that social learning and innovation may have been important processes behind the evolution of large brains in primates.

To the extent that innovation is a measure of asocial learning, the correlation between social learning and innovation frequencies suggests that asocial and social learning have evolved together. This pattern suggests that social and asocial learning may be based on the same processes (50), which conflicts with the widely held view that social learning requires distinct psychological abilities from asocial learning (70). However, we cannot rule out the possibility that social and asocial learning are separate, domain-specific capacities (14, 15) that have undergone correlated evolution.

If the findings of the research are right, then innovation (as a measure of asocial learning) based on the use of PLENK and social learning might have evolved together, confirming that social learning and innovation is part of the evolution in past decade.  Could we separate the social and asocial learning?  That remains a myth.

This emotional and social intelligence is just so interesting for me to explore.

Photo: From Flickr


Postscript: Just read Heli’s Designing for commitment in online communities Great insights from Heli.

Will reflect and respond.

#PLENK2010 Reminder on Research Survey into the Design and Delivery of MOOC PLENK

Thank you to our PLENK2010 participants who have responded to the Research Survey.  If you still haven’t responded yet, please note:


“PLENK2010 participants are invited to fill out a short survey on the Research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC – PLENK2010. This survey is anonymous and voluntary and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Sui Fai John Mak, a participant of PLENK2010 would like to thank you in advance for your time and contribution to the research. The survey can be accessed here for 2 more days and will close on November 26th 2010 at 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time.”


Postscript: In response to a request, Survey MOOC PLENK extended 2 more days & will close on Nov 29th 2010 at 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time.