eduMOOC EPortfolios and its significance in our life

Thanks to Helen, grandmother of ePortfolios for such an inspiring talk.

Have watched it last year, when it was first posted.  In response to Heli on FB: Good for the retirees or going to be? Love what Heli quoted – we need re-wirement, only that the motivation may be a matter of re-emergence – of our presence – of peer enlightenment, self & community actualisation. Portfolio to me is a philosophy of life – how we live, learn, love, and leave a legacy (as quoted by Steven Covey) when we leave the world. I would add that these are all inscribed within our hearts and mind when we interact, and converse at a deeper level of understanding of each others. It is captured through those snapshots of life when we share, in forums, blogs, FB, Twitter etc, that once upon we have left our digital footprints (as Visitors & Residents), that makes the difference. A tiny step on the digital space, but a big impact on our mind.

Back to you.

#CCK11 #PLENK2010 Transformational learning

It’s an interesting read on nuts-and-bolts-from-classroom-to-online-think-transform-not-transfer – Think Transform not Transfer 

Stephen posted here with his comments:

You are helping students become something, not acquire something. Sadly, that wasn’t the point of this article. This “nuts and bolts” missed the most practical advice of all!

Hi Stephen,
I agree with your views that transforming the students to become a more autonomous learner is much better than transferring information. Often, educators were using strategies such as that proposed by the author of the article: “a good instructor brings to the classroom, such as responsiveness, a sense of humor, interesting stories and examples, and immediate feedback”. However, this would only address “good teaching”, and have made numerous assumptions about learning, in that learners are the receptors, ready to be fed with those interesting stories, and receiving feedback from the teachers.

How about learning in the online classroom? Are the teachers also learning? Would such practice help the learners to learn outside their online classrooms, in the communities, amongst networks etc.? What is a more learner-centred approach towards learning, apart from teaching?
@jkunrein, “Sadly, in the world of corporate elearning (which is, after all, the Guild’s main audience), “just” transferring knowledge would be a vast improvement for a large percentage of courses.” Isn’t this similar to feeding the learners with fishes, like what the fisherman normally does? Teachers as fisherman should be providing a space, or showing people with spaces to fish and supporting them so the learners know where and how to fish, and thus won’t have to rely forever on the fisherman (the teacher) to provide them with the fishes. “the transformation she’s suggesting is in the service of more effective elearning, and her advice to that end is solid and practical.” May be if the transformation is based on the learners’ needs in the long run, then we need to consider what transformation really means, rather than just the mere transfer of “knowledge” or the acquisition of “knowledge and skills”.

The elearning world can never suffer from too much improvement”. Why not? Have we been using innovative approaches such as PLE to improve the elearning world? Have we improved together with our learners?  Our current researches indicate that Web 2.0 practices and PLE/PLN are all leading to great advances in elearning, on top of the fixed schedule, teacher instructed online classroom session where students are mostly reactive rather than active in the participation, if it is based on teachers telling their stories (the typical lecture). We may please our customers (learners) by giving them lots of fishes, but my experience for the last two decades with corporate world (training) is that our learners might be much better off if they could share their great learning by teaching each others, rather than being a passive learner sitting in an online class only.
I will share our latest research in MOOC which fully validates what Stephen has said.
Thanks Stephen for relating to a stimulating article, and your great insights.

CCK11 Learner Autonomy

Great list of the characteristics of an autonomous learner by Jenny here. I may have to dig deeper into our research findings to reflect some of those listed. Would some of them be interwoven with each others? Being proactive would also be showing initiative, and that may be related to intrinsic motivation (plus extrinsic motivation) etc. So, would a concept map linking of these attributes (with some cause and effect) help? Autonomy could also be based on personal taste, which could be translated and interpreted differently when one takes up a particular role. For a learner who is also an educator, being autonomous in learning could be in conflict with the autonomy in teaching, as wearing a teaching hat does assume certain responsibility that is beyond a typical learner would embrace.

This David Little’s paper on Learner Autonomy

Holec began by defining learner autonomy as the “ability to take charge of one’s own learning”, noting that this ability “is not inborn but must be acquired either by ‘natural’ means or (as most often happens) by formal learning.

Implications of this definition of learner autonomy

We take our first step towards developing the ability to take charge of our own learning when we accept full responsibility for the learning process, acknowledging that success in learning depends crucially on ourselves rather than on other people. This acceptance of responsibility entails that we set out to learn, “in a systematic, deliberate way” (Holec 1981, p.3), the skills of reflection and analysis that enable us to plan, monitor and evaluate our learning.

So, there are lots of assumptions here, where responsibility could be one of the keys for learner autonomy – so the learner could take charge of learning.  Would this also require an understanding of the skills necessary to determine what a successful learning means?  This may relate to the goals and plan set by the learner in order to achieve personal learning.  Are the goals set by the learners in alignment with the education in a school or HE setting?

In What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered?  Dimitrios Thanasoulas explains that:

On a general note, the term autonomy has come to be used in at least five ways (see Benson & Voller, 1997: 2):

  • for situations in which learners study entirely on their own;
  • for a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning;
  • for an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education;
  • for the exercise of learners’ responsibility for their own learning;
  • for the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning.

It is noteworthy that autonomy can be thought of in terms of a departure from education as a social process, as well as in terms of redistribution of power attending the construction of knowledge and the roles of the participants in the learning process.

So, I think learning with learner autonomy could be quite distinct from the formal education pathway where educational goals are normally pre-set by the institutions rather than the learners.  Would learner autonomy be more relevant for more independent and self-directed learners who are seeking alternative learning pathways, especially when such learners are learning through social media or learning networks which are not directly linked to educational institutions?

To be continued.

#PLENK2010 Connectivism

Below is the comment in response to Stephen’s post on What Connectivism is

Hi Stephen, After reading your excellent post and all comments from others, I am more than convinced on the approach towards connectivism, in that it could add a new dimension towards learning, and help in understanding how we learn in a networked environment, especially the complex digital adaptive ecology.
First, as you have stated in various presentations, connectivist approach encourages and builds on connections, where learning is viewed as ontology rather than a static view. Second, different views under a connectivist approach is a healthy one, which to me also encourages each of us to reflect more deeply on the values of communication and interaction, and the importance of sharing of tacit and explicit (views/knowledge) in the learning process. Your example on chess playing illustrates the importance of pattern recognition, not mere knowledge per se. I resonate your views when I played with Chinese Chess. It’s the strategy that wins and the establishment of pattern which is the fun behind, not the one or two steps that lie ahead that determines the pattern, or the “knowledge” in playing chess.
May be what makes a fundamental difference with connectivism to all other approaches or theories would be that its application in external digital and virtual social networking and educational networks in particular, where we may not be seeing each other face to face, and so all those “meaningful learning in a traditional teaching” doesn’t translate into a reality.
I could sense the friction coming out of some of the interactions above, especially with the notion of techno-communism from CatFitz point of view, which sounds interesting.
I would applaud Stephen in sharing this important message on connectivism, where technology is accelerating and enhancing the mode of learning across the networks and individuals, even if people don’t want to see or accept connectivism as a new learning theory. Time will tell.

Commented here.

Connectivity, information overload metaphors

This relates to my past post and my response to Jenny’s post and George’s post on Quora

My confusion with information overload, that may be the result of filter failure is that under the web and internet information space and media landscape, each of us could flap our wings, raise our “voices” in our connections and interactions, and so most of the surprises are unpredictable, like the weather, and are emergent..even with the patterns that emerged.  So connections create meaning (at social level), but the meaning is in the networks (at neural or neuronal level).  The connections only make sense in “meaning” when it is perceived and interpreted by the connectors (nodes) or networks upon interaction.  That sounds complicated, and even complex – or further confusion…(even with aggregators and curators) because every one could interpret these aggregated and curated information or artefacts differently.  So, my view is: each of us could interpret connectivity in learning  (connectivism) differently, depending on your angles, your emotions, your context, and your attitudes towards connections, and networks, people.


How about the metaphor of a coin as a way to connect under connectivism?

In a coin, the 2 sides (top and bottom) represent the yin and yang of our voices, and the rim represents the multiple perspectives of each of us (both tacit and explicit ones).

When each of us interact in the networks, as shown in this piling up of coins, we could all see and sense that it’s yin and yang interacting with each other, surrounding us with more perspectives of the networks.  The emergence would be: toppling of the coins, or alignment of all coins.  However, if the coins are all piled up too high, then sooner or later, the whole pile could collapse.  This is similar to the information or connections overload, when too many coins are in “connection” with each other.  So we may need to focus on the similar coins, and pile the coins with care to maintain stability.  Would that explain why limited connections is better for us?

the compass


Another metaphor that could be useful to illustrate this would be connectivism as magnets – the polarity of nature, that magnetism exhibits on earth and in ferrous alloys.

Such polarity of views and perspectives (or different voices of individuals) could also be represented in the form of yin yang or the north and south poles.  Like poles repel and unlike poles attract.

The compass is where all these “connections” are connected to show the directions.  In this case, the context, the actual position and the actors (people, tools, resources, artifacts) are all inter-dependent and important in guiding us.

What are some techniques and strategies in handling information overload?

In this managerial information overload:

The more structured techniques for information handling required to manage information overload can be achieved at three levels of specificity:

Tools and Techniques. Knowledge workers need better tools and techniques to structure and retrieve information more effectively from both internal and external sources.

Organizational Design. Second, because changes in contemporary organizational structure have contributed to the explosion of information overload, organizational management needs to account for information overload in organization design.

Capacity for Inquiry. Third, these organizations need to address information overload issues at the level of the individual knowledge worker. People may perceive overload because the information they receive does not fit their mental models of reality.

Are these techniques and strategies effective in an open learning environment such as social networks or media?

I have found some of the following useful:

(a) Use of PLE/N

(b) Adoption of reflective inquiry in networked learning

(c) Immersion and inquiry in networks

(d) Research into PLE/N

#PLENK2010 On Learning Theories and Learner Taxonomy

In this post, I would like to explore Learning theories and Learner Taxonomy.

Refer to my previous post and an interesting post here on Bloom’s Taxonomy, what further elements might be considered in the latest revised Bloom’s model?

How about

(a) connections/disconnections/re-connections of learner with networks;

(b) interactions/engagement/cooperation/collaboration/integration with nodes/networks; growth, development & sustainability/decay;

(c) unlearning/relearning in response to changing/dynamic networked/learning environments?

The article here provides a useful summary of some application of learning theories.  Peter concluded that:

To make online teaching and training materials more effective, an agency should first establish suitable learning goals and objectives. Since the priority of instruction is to “benefit” or “instruct” the learner, instructional designers should then strive to facilitate the learning process i.e., make learning easier. This can be accomplished by applying proven learning theories and pedagogical practices, as well as, practical web-design strategies and guidelines, to their instructional design.

I have been recently thinking about learning based on a number of perspectives/assumptions (refer to this  Match and Mismatch between Learner Stages and Teacher Styles also discussed in Rita’s post here):
(a) Learning from a teaching perspective,
(b) learning from a learning perspective,
(c) teaching from a teaching perspective, and
(d) teaching from a learning perspective.

This would then form a matrix with the 4 quadrants. Each quadrant would then be connected with others (juxtaposed) to delineate the emphasis based on a number of criteria.

Teaching perspective could include the following themes & dimensions: LMS, Formal course/instructional design & pedagogy, teaching space, power and control (where I would like to refer to Stephen’s post on power of networks), assessment and accreditation, teachers’ role and responsibilities, teaching and learning resources.

Learning perspective could include the following themes & dimensions: PLE/PLN, eportfolio, self and peer assessment and teacher’s assessment, learners’ role and responsibilities, OER (open education resources), learner’s autonomy, social media, networks and Web 2.0 (i.e. media affordance), and network connections, interactions and engagement.

With each perspective, then one could develop the mapping based on a model similar to revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, (though I think it could be further refined or developed based on a more learner-based PLE/N model), to reflect the dynamic and adaptive mode of learning, rather than the “static” and linear model of “taxonomy”.

How about a dynamic model that is based on Folksonomy and Wordle approach (with tags and key words of learning from a learners’ perspective)?

The emerged themes would form the basis of individual’s learning based on personal learning, “individual learning styles”, multiple intelligence one has and the conceptual connections within and across domains. This could then be overlaid with the teacher’s perspectives (like the constructive alignment).

Such approach would be based on emergent principles (i.e. both the chaos and complexity theory) as the learner may be self-directed and the network he/she engages may be self organising, which means that a higher order of learning would involve sensemaking and wayfinding – i.e. identifying ways and strategies, analysing, sensing (sense making), responding, interacting, cooperating and collaborating/open sharing via networks, personal risk “controlling”, integrating, creating (individually, connectively, and or collectively) and deciding.

Such teaching/learning needs to be based upon the complexity of learning situations (situational learning, learning trajectory that one would like to adopt, i.e. LPL (legitimate Peripheral Learning) or Self-directed Learning to Active Participative Learning and personal autonomy.

Finally a connective learning approach would consolidate and integrate the learning that form the basis of networked learning – with different learning theories embedded at different stages of learning as shared here.


#PLENK2010 MOOC Reflection Part I

This is a continuation of the discourse on MOOC.  Here I would like to relate to questions that I think would be important.  Such issues were discussed by George, Stephen, Jenny, Rita and many others who had led or participated in MOOC.

Part I

What’s wrong with MOOC? Should MOOC be a course or an uncourse? Should MOOC be treated like an event (or a conference)?  What about assessment in MOOC?

Part II

Is accreditation important in an online course?  What are the options available to assessment and accreditation in online course such as MOOC? What are the implications of those options?

Part III

What were the lessons learned from MOOC?

Part I

What’s wrong with MOOC?

An interesting discussion here about unlearning in MOOC.

Would (M)OOc’s be any more successful with self organised learners drawn from non traditional non-institutional backgrounds? Those from a clean slate un-schooled environment who did not have to unlearn previous potentially inefficient ways of learning?

Would this depend on the design and delivery of MOOC and the target participants?  I don’t seem to see many un-schooled learners actively involved in a “formal” online course such as MOOC, though there might be some that I wasn’t aware of.   One could argue that they may be lurkers rather than active participants, likely due to the lack of skills or Critical Literacy in participating in MOOC.  There are simply too many assumptions here.

Another challenge is the stereo-typing of young learners who are really smart and talented, but are very active in social networking, on Facebook, Twitters, etc, and that they might find the traditional school settings too limited to their learning.  Some of these young learners might be highly creative, as could be revealed in the Youtube videos they produced, based on re-purposing and re-mixing, and would prefer active learning through actions such as production of videos or podcasts, slides, photos,  rather than being lectured, or spoon fed with information or knowledge, and thus asked to sit in tests or examinations to demonstrate their competency or capability.

Who would benefit most from MOOC?

I have shared some of my views on participation in MOOC here.

So, what and how would people (including un-schoolers) benefit from MOOC?

Stephen comments in the Daily:

George Siemens writes about “what’s wrong with (M)OOCs” and while he identifies some of the common criticisms – high drop out rates and declining participation, the need for technical skills, learners expressing their frustration at feeling disconnected and lost – I think that the main problem with them is that they are in fact courses, isolated islets in a sea of disconnected meaning. The people who are disconnected, unskilled and drop out are people who have spent their entire lives being given content on a platter to memorized, and we don’t do it that way.I think our approach is the right approach, but that it will take time to establish as something like the norm.

Jenny remarks in her What’s wrong with MOOC? Some thoughts

But within the traditional system of accreditation and validation there are considerable constraints on what we can achieve.   Anyone who is paying for a course – open or not – is going to have expectations of what they get for their money and that usually means, in my experience,  of the level of tutoring/facilitation they receive.

I agree with Jenny’s views, in particular that there are certain expectations from participants, especially when it relates to accreditation and value for “money” in a corporate world of education.

Is high drop out rates and declining participation a concern from an educational perspective? A resounding yes?

My questions are: Should MOOC be viewed as a course or an educational and learning experience instead?  Why? In a typical online course, the success is determined by a number of factors such as: (a) pass rates, (b) participation and engagement of participants (instructors & learners) in the course, (c) quality of learning, and (d) achievement of course or unit outcomes.  If we are to reflect on each of those criteria against MOOC, then we may find that:

(a) Pass or course completion rate: this is not relevant to MOOC (PLENK and CritLit), and there are no assessment components, and so the pass criteria is not applicable.

(b) Participation and engagement of participants: this may be part of the criteria in judging the “success” of MOOC.  However, participation and engagement could take many different forms – in open and or closed space, in the periphery (as lurkers) or at core (active engagement in blog postings and comments, or blogging communities) and forum discussion, Second Life discussion, Elluminate session discussion, and research, or under private emails discussion, message or chat conversation in different media spaces.  Would these all be captured under the PLENK2010 hashtags?

How and why participants participate and engage in these modes would unlikely be known.  Why?

Our current research indicated that only a very small portion of the participants (around 3 – 4%) would respond to a formal research in MOOC/PLENK.

Even with the learning analytics (via Google analytics, or other tools), only those conversations or engagement tagged with PLENK2010 would be captured. There are many other discussion and discourse that relate to MOOC – PLENK which are not under the radar of research and so we might need to develop alternative ways to account for such participation, interaction and engagement.

(c) Quality of learning: This relates to the value, expectations on teaching and learning, and meeting of the needs of the learners.  As PLENK relates to personal learning (though it also relates to how one associates his/her learning with others or network, and how and why such networks are created and developed), this could only be assessed most appropriately through individual assessment and reflection.  I would however think that some of the quality of learning could  be revealed through the research findings.

(d) Achievement of course or unit outcomes/performance: This could be a challenging one for MOOC, as the assessment criteria has to be based on individual’s set goals and outcomes, rather than a centrally pre-set course outcomes.  Could assessment be set aside in MOOC, so that assessment be done through a natural eportfolio approach?  These portfolio evidences may then be assessed by a third party or university as previously suggested by Stephen Downes via his various presentations.  This would relieve the networked learning constraints on personal autonomy in a MOOC (as shared by Jenny in her post What’s wrong with MOOC? Some thoughts ).

Should MOOC be a course or an uncourse?

In reflection, I think MOOC could be designed and delivered as a hybrid of course and uncourse – that it is a course for those who want to study with a structured format, with clear learning outcomes and objectives, specific course content and elements, and pre-determined assessment or performance criteria. MOOC could also be one where it is structured based on negotiated outcomes, without a set structure or stipulated course content, and without any rigid assessment or performance criteria.  With this in mind, MOOC could be viewed as an experiment, under a research and inquiry “paradigm” where participants are invited to explore together with the facilitators, to co-create a networked learning environment which stimulated creation and growth of knowledge in a connective manner.

Would there be confusion with such a hybrid format of Online Course?

How about the structuring of the course based on the structure/unstructured course?  These may include a number of consecutive events or projects (with timelines open to the needs of the participants), one – three days unconference, mentoring for newbies forum or group blogs, research based activities (group and or networks, focus groups), negotiated topics on wiki, Google Groups or networks, and structured mini courses with focussed current topic – (like journalism, wikipedia interest), and community or network of practice that relate to particular professions – HE, K-12 etc.  These could then be embedded into HE informal or formal accredited courses which articulate to higher qualifications – such as Postgraduate certificate, diploma, Masters or Doctors courses.

There are implications to such a hybrid course, which I would reflect later in the post in Part II.

George reinforces such research focus via MOOC in his latest post here. Research and inquiry breeds new seeds to MOOC and networked learning, which as he said could help in “exploring ways in which universities might be impacted by networked technologies, global trends, changing contexts, learner expectations, and west-to-east/north-to-south population and capital flows.” Would our MOOC networked experience be “evangelical”? As I shared in my post (see my comments), MOOC could be viewed as a tool, a platform, a “jumping board” upon which teaching and learning could be “blended” in a peer learning ecology, nuanced with juxtaposition when knowledge creation becomes the ultimate goal, and learners are the product of the learning process.

I will continue the sharing in Part II and III at a later time.


Postscript: Refer to this paper on Interaction in Online Courses: More is NOT Always Better on interaction.