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…





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?

My original response to George’s posting on: Can a group of networked individuals play the same role as a teacher or professor?

Can a group of networked individuals play the same role as a teacher?  This course could be a good example.  In the short term, I do think such group of networked individuals have played “part” of the role of a teacher… provided the individuals perceived the network as a valuable source of knowledge and experience, which could be trusted and relied upon. 

But will there be a timeframe for such role?  thoughtful

How about the emotions of the individuals towards each other?  How would the emotions be resolved?  An example is if the member was not “liked” or was neglected by other networked members, he/she may decide to leave the network.  So how could that member learn or be helped out?   How about the lurkers?

Are there any “facilitators” or “leaders” needed in such networks?  Will these individuals assume their role as “teacher” ultimately?  What motivate these individuals to stay in the network?  Is the network based on a community of practice/interest/project/problem/social reasons?  Is there a definite start/end time for such network (like a project)?  

To what extent will such network relationship persist? 

How will power relationship be developed in external/social network?  How will conflicts of power be resolved?

As the network develops, will the “weak ties’ grow into “strong ties” or “transform into something else – like a group”?

Will there be a cycle of network – group?

Will it be similar to the TQM (Total Quality Management) movement, starting with Top TQM Steering committee, quality circles, then formal TQM cross functional teams, Just in time, then leaderless teams, then process re-engineering, best practice, customer service, then lean, six sigma, and now networks (quality networks), then…will it be  Network Steering or Community of Practice, network circles again…?  And the cycle goes on?

Even if we don’t need teachers, will some people still want to become teachers or like to take up the role of a teacher?

Where will the teachers go?  Re-deployed?  Will the parents become the teachers?

So will it be schooling then de-schooling, then re-schooling cycle?

Where there is a solution, there may be a set of problems arising from that solution, the TQM movement cited above well illustrates the lesson from history.  Does it?

Connectivism – a short case study on mentoring and coaching based on my experience

In my year 7 high school study (many tens of years ago), my teacher suggested us to study in pairs to develop better spoken English, and to improve study skills.  That mode of pairing is similar to the mentor/mentee relationship we have nowadays. I wasn’t awared of this being called mentoring at that time. 

He first arranged us to pair up with other students.  I was paired up with another bright classmate who needed to develop improved reading skills.  Academically he was the star (much better than me in most studies).  On certain mornings before the class started or during the breaks (we negotiated the time), he practised reading with me, and I just listened, and provided feedback where necessary. Throughout the process, we learned and improved.  We had become very good friends based on that relationship. We both had to “report” back to the class, and every pairs did the same too on the progress and outcomes.  My classmate actually had to read in the class to show his improved performance (peer assessment).  And we could even change mentors and mentees at will.  So it was fun, emergent…relationship, learning and leadership.

During the last 10 years, this practice has been happening throughout my own work and outside membership in associations or networks.  On some occasions, I joined as a “formal” mentor and did the mentoring – all between us (me and the mentees) in private, and then more openly with the other mentors, during site visits, meetings, but we are both “mentors” to each others, and sharing the learning either face to face or in groups. 

So, we are now extending such mentoring relationships to the  networks, this course – with sporadic mentoring and coaching, consciously and unconsciously, sometimes propositional, other times nonpropositional (as cited by Stephen).

I always like to break the rule, if it is good for “us”- especially the one to two paragraphs cited by the experts or professors in forums.  Why? Because I think that is one question only, and is limited to one paragraph of answer (correct?), a didactic Socratic approach.  But I would like the stimulation of multi-conversation, and that’s the challenging part of the discussion. That simulate the multi-facets of complex issues in real life, and we could become the curator blended with creativity.  And Bob, Lisa, Ruth, Frances, Stephen, George…you are the one….

Did I pass marginally?

Thank you for being patient with me….more stories to share…in coming posts thoughtful

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

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

What are the implications of such changes?

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

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

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

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

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