#MOOCMOOC Reflection on different MOOCs

Will MOOC transform Higher Education? There seems to be great potential for MOOC “to transform higher education at a time when colleges and universities are grappling with shrinking budgets, rising costs and protests over soaring tuition and student debt.”

Is free online courses movement good for the higher education? MOOC could be a good platform and hence a driver for education and personalised learning.  As George states in slide 20 of his post: The poor level of innovation needs more MOOC models.

There are models which could be good on surface, but not always good in outcome.  Also there are models which are idealistic but practical on surface, but good in outcome in the long term.

What are those models?  The Good, bad and the ugly models….

“Good MOOCs foreground and sustain the social dimension of learning and active practices, i.e., knowledge production rather than knowledge consumption.”  (Good MOOCs Bad MOOCs) The c MOOC’s foreground social media participation over “content mastery”. Indeed as any content that one has mastered may sooner or later be out-dated and replaced by more up-to-date knowledge, that render a learner to re-learn the latest content.  How to keep up with such information explosion?  Is MOOC the solution?

Based on the principles and concepts of MOOC, it could be used in the case of SOOC where Keith is thinking of and he cites Jim’s conclusion:

The promise of MOOCs is their inclusion in the creative design of individual programs of study for degrees and certificates, and the force that will drive it is the most intimate, natural, and informal sort of dialogue that transpires between teacher and student. In this scenario, the teacher becomes guide, advisor, and facilitator; and the student, an active participant in the planning. Together, they will explore all the learning resources in the world to generate an individualized plan that meets the student’s goals and the college’s standards.

This is similar in principles to those mentoring programs where the teacher acts as mentor, and students as mentee, whilst the networks and learning resources in the world and internet would be explored and used in the generation of such individualized learning plan.

We could scale Online learning up with MOOC – but then the problems, challenges and opportunities scale up too, as I have shared it here on MOOC and online education.

The critical issue for x MOOCs seems to lie with the problem of Cheating and Plagiarism.  Are students learning or cheating in a x MOOC? It seems that such evidences have confirmed that it could be the biggest problem in online assessment, especially when it comes to accreditation of MOOCs and the qualification awarded, if MOOCs are credited towards degrees or equivalent qualifications.

From college students’ perspective, Jordan says:

Another issue I have with MOOCs is that there is no face-to-face interaction. The classroom helps teach interpersonal skills and molds students into better functioning members of our society. If students do all of their learning behind a computer screen, they will not learn the necessary skills for being in a working environment, even if they are learning what is intended to be taught in the lecture.

Being in a full classroom and speaking your mind in front of classmates also builds confidence that will be necessary when selling yourself to a potential employer. Plus, in a MOOC, you cannot interact with fellow classmates. A professor can be the best teacher and know what they are talking about, but this may not be enough to allow all students to absorb the information.

Based on my experience, participants can interact with fellow “classmates”, as revealed in our past researches on CCKs and Plenk MOOC.  The question is: How would one sustain the interaction with fellow participants in MOOCs?   It was noted that there were always more lurkers or “inactive participants” than active participants in most MOOCs.  How to ensure participants are supported and “motivated” in MOOCs, so they could learn and or complete the MOOCs?  Those are the challenges yet to be tackled in MOOCs.

What are the similarities and differences in these kinds of MOOCs – c and x MOOCs?

Networked based, task based, and content based MOOC all have their merits and demerits, as Lisa points out in the three kinds of MOOC.

What I found amazing is these 3 kinds of MOOC have certain attributes in common.  I would compare and contrast the c MOOCs (connectivist), t MOOCs (instructivist and constructivist) and x MOOCs (instructivist)

1. MOOC with PLE/N/LMS based, with a spectrum:

PLE/N – are based on personalized learning with a strong focus on network and community as an affordance of learning.  Here the outcome would be achievement of personal goals, with the fulfillment of personal action plans, and projects or tasks completed.  The blogs, artifacts and PLE (eportfolios etc.) established and developed would be used as evidence of capability, or capacity to “manage personal learning”.  This wiki on youronlineself could be a good starting point to DIY.  Mobile learning and augmented learning based on augmented technology are also learning by DIY with the aid of technology.

LMS – are based on Learning Management System, with a strong focus on forum as an affordance of learning.  Instructure (Canvas). Instructure is the latest LMS used, and MOOCMOOC has also used that as the “centralised” platform, though there are Twitter, and other platforms also in use.

c MOOCs would likely comprise of a combination of PLE/N and or LMS, though the latest trend is to use LMS as a starting point for participants to engage.  Subsequent conversation and activities would be distributed over different spaces, platforms and PLE/Ns.

x MOOC would likely be based principally on a centralized platform, as in the case of Coursera, Udacity and EdX.

2. Role of the educator.  What would be the role of educator in a MOOC in this new era?  Not a teacher, as argued in this post, but a facilitator, an organizer, and a guide. “We are no longer (or should no longer be) in the business of giving information. The information is out there, easily grasped. It’s our job to present it to the students in a way that makes them want to learn themselves.”  Well said.

Number of facilitators in MOOC.  Would the number of “professors”, facilitators in MOOCs make a difference in the “educational and learning outcome” of MOOCs? These range from one professor to a number of professors taking up the principal instructional/facilitation role: Curt Bonk’s MOOC, Jonathan Tomkins’ coming sustainability MOOC,  Jim Groom’s DS106, George Siemens and Stephen Downes’s CCKs, 35 plus guest facilitators’ Change11, etc. (Refer to MOOC on wikipedia on the various MOOCs). More researches are needed to explore the impact of the number of facilitators on the outcome of MOOC.

3. Role of the institutions.  To school or not to school? Roy asks excellent questions: need to think more widely, toward a more inclusive and community oriented education”.  The question is:  How? ”

4. Assessment.  The scope and emphasis of assessment for the cMOOC is significantly different from x MOOC.   If the argument of internet (and part thereof) is the MOOC – online (www.linuxquestions.org), then assessment within a MOOC could be any activity, artifacts completed or conversation held by the learners within the MOOC.  Here Dave argues that the assessment of c MOOC should not be made based on a centralized assessment: “there is no sense, I think, in which it makes sense to assess, in the centralized – this is what to know – sense, a MOOC”

5. Learning theory and pedagogy.  Connectivism (George Siemens and Stephen Downes), Constructivism, and Instructivism

As George mentions in MOOCs are really a platform: “Our MOOC model emphasizes creation, creativity, autonomy, and social networked learning. The Coursera model emphasizes a more traditional learning approach through video presentations and short quizzes and testing. Put another way, cMOOCs focus on knowledge creation and generation whereas xMOOCs focus on knowledge duplication.”

c MOOC: Conversation, dialogues. Connectivism is the key to learning. Learner-centered. Students’ learning based on peer-to-peer, with networks and technology as affordance.  Assessment based on the accomplishment of personal goals, where learners would define and determine its success.

x MOOC:  Lectures and test, as in Coursera and Udacity.  Instructivism is the key to learning. Teacher and teaching-centered. Instructor sage on the stage is the norm, and is therefore expected.  Great teaching determines effective learning.  Assessment based on examinations and assignments, where institutions would define the learning outcomes and determine whether the students have achieved the planned prescriptive outcomes.

One common promise amongst all MOOCs seems to be the provision of education to anyone who are interested in learning around the globe, and to bring learner in as the focus of learning in an MOOC.

The motto at Udacity is: “At Udacity, we put you, the student, at the center of the universe.”

Stephen Downes summarises on c MOOC and its organisation here.  An excellent presentation that captures the essence of MOOC.


A related post on MOOC – world-education-university-looks-ride-mooc-wave-despite-skeptics.

Another interesting post on MOOC that I would like to share and discuss in coming post, from a MOOC professor’s perspective.

Research into the role of educators

In this paper Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers   by Geroge Siemens:

de Laat (2006) highlights the current paucity of understanding: “More systematic research in the role and perceived role of the teacher in networked learning environments would be desirable” (p. 174). Until this research is conducted, metaphors, as suggested above, which approximate or suggest potential roles may serve well as interim guidelines.

I have also suggested in my blog: https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/role-of-teacher-a-to-z/#comments on such research.

Would you be interested in conducting research into the role of the teacher (or educator) in networked learning environments? How about conducting a research and discussion on this within our Community http://connectivismeducationlearning.ning.com ?


A response to Revamping a MOOC

Lisa has posted an important one on Revamping a MOOC http://lisahistory.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/course-recommendations-revamping-a-mooc/


I found her post so inspiring that I would like to respond to it here:

Hi Lisa,
This is an interesting debate.  I appreciate your, Bob’s and Jenny’s points on the course on restructuring and other comments. 
My point is: It’s really difficult to have a black or white strategy under connectivism – is it duality or plurality?  Are there any grey areas?
As mentioned by Jenny, a fully learner centered approach could be complex and chaotic.  I have used that in my on-the-job training and assessment in Distribution Centre Training.  Every learner becomes a leader.  They decide what, how, when, where and why they would like to learn them, all on an individual basis.  Every learning experience would be based on their needs, not mine.  I could be the guide on the side…
So, what make sense to the learner may not be what the instructor wants to do. And whether connectivism could really achieve this would depend on the learning paradigm adopted by the learner, not only the teacher.
For me, I take the stance of a learner (while I am a teacher by profession).  But I may not be connected to others, as others may be avoiding me as I am a “teacher”.  These are just my speculation.  With the same token, George and even Stephen took a stand-off role in some ways, to let go of the teacher’s hat.  But, what are the reactions of the participants? It’s a complex and emergent situation.  A structured course like this will suit someone like you, perhaps.  But, again under connectivism, a network or community of practice will suit a bigger “audience”.  Are we having the “right” audience or participants for this course?  Are we having the “learner centred” approach to “teaching and learning”?  This experiment has revealed part of the emergent phenomena.  Does it mean that we have to become “true” learners to appreciate connectivism?  Would you mind me including everyone, you, Jenny and me as true learners?  I am not sure whether Stephen and George would agree.  ??

Final paper on Connectivism – Part I – An exciting flight

You are invited to watch these videos on Youtube




 I still call Australia home


Here is my final paper on Connectivism-Part I.  I am doing all the assessments starting from the end, due partly to the time needed for reflection, but also my quest for a better version to be published to the public.

To address George’s questions

1.       What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?

2.       How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?

3.     How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

4.    What types of questions are still outstanding?

May I start off with a metaphor?

Flight in search of learning experience with people and learning/educational  landscape

I have often liked to take flight to reach different places of the world.  This has widened my understanding of the knowledge, perspectives and habits of other people.  I could see the importance of social, political and cultural values, and habits of people in learning and education in this global village.

When I first joined this course, I found I was boarding a virtual flight on connectivism.  With a 2000 plus passengers on board, we were all ready for the take off.  At the start, everything seemed so smooth.  It was an exciting journey, so new to me, that I wondered if I have chosen the “right” flight. 

Then, here came the announcement of the chief pilots- George Siemens and Stephen Downes (G&S), that the flight was on time and on track.  And our plane climbed the heights (the connective knowledge, networks and history of networks sessions in 2nd, 3rdand 4th week) smoothly…. 

Then the Moodle, Blogs, Wiki, Daily, RSS, Facebook, Second Life etc. were all in place and I felt like connecting to the other passengers using the computer screens – the internet and the artefacts. And it seemed that we have all boarded on an actual plane, where we could connect and have conversation with each other.  Due to the friendly service of G&S, everything seemed nice and calm.   

Then there came a surprise announcement from a female co-pilot named Catherine.  We were informed that the course track wasn’t right.  Our flight was heading to the wrong direction! I was taken back by such a surprise notice. I thought it must be a hijack! 

I talked to myself: ’Take it easy, calm down”

With the courageous act of the two steering pilots G&S and few passengers, the voices seemed to calm down.  It wasn’t a hijack at all.  It was just a virtual game – to entertain us.  And we were told that we could enjoy our flight, and so just relax with our dinner.

Then, there came the turbulence, power in between the pilots and passengers, when I have to fasten my seat belt.  It was a bumpy ride, and luckily, I have got my gears ready, and so I was safe and sound.  On one occasion, I took the breathing apparatus to keep alive.  But after a few more roller coaster rides, the complexity and chaos theories, the jargons, metaphors on friction, pipes, etc. I managed to focus on my exploration.  I finally understand where I am, and who I am talking to. And I soon got accustomed to the flight.

Once we have moved to the 9th week, we were safe.  And here came

the landing in Week 12. Safe and sound landing on the wonderland of connectivism.

I am going to start my reflections by trying to answer these questions – but I may come back with further reflections in a later post.

1.       What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?

Throughout my journey here in this course, I managed to make a few strong “ties”, but most of the others are just “weak ties”.  In the moodle, I took an active part with a lot of co-learners.  I often interacted with Roy, Ken, Bradley, Dolores, Ruth, Jo Ann, Om, Pat, Mrs Durff, Jorge, Carlo, Jon, Sarah, Bob, Carlos, Frances, Catherine, Andreas, Ed, Lee, George and some others.  In the blogosphere, I often connect with various co-learners, like Jenny, Mike, Lisa, Tom, Maru, Ariel, Ailsa, Viplav, Dave and Keith, and many others. 

I managed to maintain conversation with more than 40 participants throughout the diverse network.  Gradually, I have to use RSS, Google Reader, Delicious, Wiki and blogs to keep up with the connections and aggregations.  I thought I have been able to connect with others without too much difficulties.  However, I also realised that it was a challenge in sustaining the connections due to two main reasons. First, any connection must start with a sincere intention, whether it is a post, or a response.  Second, reason and passion (and emotion) must be considered in a connection or interaction.   It really opens up my learning in that not only “like minds attract”, “unlike minds attract too”. 

I hope I could maintain such enthusiasm in connection even after this course, by taking an active part in blogging and response.

 2.  How has this course influenced my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?



I started off on-the-job training in 2000, and since then I realised our learners (including me) all learn in a diverse manner.  Learning from the instructor, peers, various artefacts mediated (resources, internet), work itself, etc.  Both formal and informal learning are important, in that they all contribute to one’s life long learning due to its emergent nature. From this course, I further realised the importance of emergent learning distributed throughout the networks, at neural, conceptual and social/external level. So, learning could be complex, and chaotic.  But out of all these came the emergent pattern, where one could find the order, the knowledge hidden behind – both the tacit and explicit knowledge in connections are important. 


Patterning of Knowledge and Wayfinding


This course has helped me in focusing on the pattern that lies behind those formal and informal learning.  I have gained a better understanding of the knowledge distributed in the network and in particular the artefacts and people.  Without such mining of distributed knowledge and learning, I would still think that knowledge could only be acquired.  I have also steered my learning in a different direction, with a focus on continuous learning via way finding.   

More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections that allow one to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways.  William Cronon, 1998 

3.       How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

I have already incorporated a number of principles in my design and delivery of learning at work.

These included:

·         Re-structuring the units of competencies that map the learners’ needs.  A complete learner centred approach towards learning

·         Design of Resources and Delivery of Learning –Resources were customised to each trainees’ needs – printed learner’s guides and assessment tools followed by mentoring visits and on-line session

Learning Management System (LMS) are structured: the Janison Learning Management System Tool box (similar to Moodle) with e-learning resources like virtual warehouse etc. and all powerpoints on lectures, activities and assessment tasks and quizzes are available in the LMS.

Further attempts include the extension of more blogs and wikis to support learning.

4.What types of questions are still outstanding?

·         How decisions could be made effectively in networks, given the diverse opinions and autonomy of the learners.

·         Explore the wider use of connectivism in a corporate training environment.  Is applied connectivism (such as Web 2.0) applicable to the training of CEOs and senior management?

·         What will be the use of connectivism in e-mentoring?

·         How will connectivism add values to teachers who prefer to teach in a face-to-face format?



What’s next for connectivism and connective knowledge?

Here is a talk by Mary Poppendieck on the Role of Leadership in Software Development http://au.youtube.com/watch?feature=user&v=ypEMdjslEOI Thanks to Jenny Mackness for showing the URL.
What are you building?
Three Stonecutters were asked:
What are you doing?

  1. I’m cutting stones
  2. I’m earning a living
  3. I’m building a cathedral

The suggestion by Mary was: Move responsibility and decision-making to the lowest possible level.

The Litmus Test: When workers are annoyed by their job

Under the same concept, when learners or teachers are annoyed by the “teaching and learning ecology”, what option will you choose?

Are you going to be the cathedral builder?

Some suggestions:

  1. May be we can do experiments
  2. Try innovative solutions – develop open course/coursewares, build networks, community of practice
  3. Be adaptable in learning new ICT tools via continuous personal learning and development – applied connectivism
  4. Go out and learn more – join communities, networks, open courses and forums
  5. Use creativity in building constant improvement both individually and collectively (connectivism and connective knowledge with brain power) with the exploitation of ICT (Web 2.0), networks, community of practice
  6. Leadership in place – every learner a leader – takes ownership in learning and teaching
  7. Network leadership – co-operation, collaboration  amongst networks, community of practice
  8. Research

Your suggestions….

May be a wiki to collect more ideas…

Or a set up of a community/network to continue our exploration on connectivism…





Identity, integrity, risks and assessment in a connective world

This is my response to the forum discussion on  Connective World raised by Jim McKendry, Lisa Lane and George Siemens http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=1159

This is interesting.  We seem to touch on an important and sensitive subject: integrity amongst educators and participants.  

Trust, honesty and openness are the connerstones of network learning (in my humble opinion IMHO), that was also mentioned by George, after my response to Catherine in previous forum discussion. Otherwise some conversations, critiques become apparent appreciative inquiries (sorry, I don’t mean to be negative), where participants would praise with responses to each others, in order to please and concur, (or the sandwich approach), in order not to offend each other, which sounds “good” in a class. 

Fake critiques and conversations are happening in many social networks.  Is it the reason of the avatars in Second Life?  Are the conversations “really reflective” or honest saying of the participants?  Just for fun or exaggeration? 

On the other hand, as tensions amongst participants build up, some people would stay away from the forum, in order to avoid conflicts.  So even networks (or this group) have norms (and implicit rules).  Is it?

Video chatting and posting is one way to identify people.  Due to time zone problem, I found it difficult to attend some “Elluminate” or “Ustream” sessions here in Sydney, Australia.   Is it a problem for others?

Are people in networks (this group in particular) willing to identify themselves in open space?  How many participants are willing to openly comment on their work practices, associations, organisations, society or community in public?  Is politics, religion still a taboo especially if ones identity is revealed?  Are people willing to speak the “truth” from their hearts?

Is it true that network could provide that protection for people who wishes to engage and connect if they hide their true identity?  Is people free to voice their opinions with minimum risk if they stay anonymous?  Again, is it why Second Life is so popular? Is risk an important factor in network learning?

If this is happening in “our network”, how could we know if the blogs, forums, facebook posts or even wiki  (in this and other networks) are genuine or authentic (both content and personal experience)?  Are they real or just imaginary in such a virtual, digital age?  Any research done in this area?

Is on-line assessment trustworthy?  Are there lots of plagiarism in on-line network assessment?  If that is the case, how could one detect and avoid it?   These all belong to another big topic that deserve a new post.. Who would like to start?

Can a network of learners play the role of teacher? More reflections – I

I couldn’t sign in to read the article.  I can’t comment because I haven’t read the full paper. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a784754045~db=all I am wondering the reason why people are looking for efficiency in learning. 

An old saying: it takes half to a year to grow a crop, ten years to grow a tree, and many tens of years to grow people.  At this digital age, we have a manic society.  How long will it take to grow and develop a person – to become a digital, net or network citizen?  Do you need a seond life?

Here is a picture in a scene featured in a best-of compilation called Parrot Sketh Not Included:

It is the Silly Olympics.  The stadium is full.  There is a blue sky overhead.  There is a sense of great anticipation as the main event is about to begin.  Assembled at the starting line are the finalists – an elite band of runners who have absolutely no sense of direction.

The runners are clearly agitated.  They are itching to get on with the race.  The starting gun fires, and the runners are off.  Very quickly they all leave the track – sprinting forwards, sprinting backwards, sprinting sideways, sprinting in circles.  They are all running extremely fast.  Maximum haste.  Great effort.  Fantastic speed.  Very athletic.  But there is no track, no direction, no finishing line and, ultimately, no purpose to the running.

How does this relate to the learning in this ‘Fast Society’?  Are we no difffernt to the fast runners?  Are we becoming a generation of “fast laners” in the networks?  Are we testing the limits of fast living, fast business, fast learning, fast instructions?  Fast posting? Fast responses? Fast research?…..Fast teachers?  And fast learners?  So you don’t need years to become expert, don’t you?

Is instruction important?  Do you need a purpose to your learning?